Now is the time to enjoy your summer with Zero Waste. All kinds of waste are piling up in landfills at an alarming rate. Single-use plastics have a disastrous impact but aren't the only issue.
I am carrying very few items with me this summer. I feel a lot better when I am outside enjoying nature without leaving trash behind. I hope I can inspire you to try and do the same.
To make a difference on a global scale, follow these simple tips for a Zero Waste summer.
1. Get your summer essentials
One of the best ways to produce less waste is to put together a Zero Waste travel kit and carry it with you. Put everything in your favorite backpack or reusable bag.
Here are some summer favorites that are very useful throughout the warmer months, presented by Sustainably Vegan. Use them as a source of inspiration if you are just starting a low impact lifestyle. They are all Zero Waste, minimalist, ethical, and sustainable.
Some very useful essentials for a Zero Waste summer are:
- Reusable water bottle
- Coffee cup
- Food container
- Bamboo straw
- Stainless steel cutlery
- Eco-friendly sunscreen
- Reusable bags
- Natural mosquito repellent
- Wood sunglasses
- Sustainable shoes
2. Pick up your trash
Before leaving the lake, park, camping site, or beach, make sure to take a few minutes to pick up your trash. Don't leave anything behind. Instead, you can try to recycle any waste you produced.
Of course, plastic is very concerning. But there are also many other types of waste to take into consideration, such as any clothes you had with you, glass, oils, food waste, liquid waste, or paper.
3. Buy organic items produced locally
As much as possible, try to buy food, clothes, and beauty products you need that are local and organic. You can reduce your water and carbon footprint a lot by choosing these over conventional products.
Summer is one of the best times to visit the farmers market. Try to stock up on delicious, organic, and locally-produced food. Why not snack on fresh fruits like peaches or blueberries? In winter, they will be gone.
4. Prepare your meals at home
After hitting up the farmers market, why not prepare all seasonal summer products you got at home? To eat lighter and healthier in summer, cook your meals in your kitchen.
Against hot weather, you can easily add berries to oatmeal bowls for breakfast, make salads or lettuce wraps for lunch, and cook a vegetable stew for dinner. Cooking using seasonal and local products is a fun Zero Waste summer activity.
5. Support local businesses
If you are looking for a place to eat or accommodation, prefer small-scale, family-run establishments. Traditional restaurants and housing support local communities.
You will have a much lower impact overall if you choose small-scale hotels over large chains. You can reduce your footprint nearly by half when you support local businesses.
6. Shop at your local thrift store
Head to your local thrift store or resale shop to buy clothes and don't forget to bring your reusable shopping bag with you.
Thrifting helps sustainable fashion tremendously. It reduces the amounts of waste we produce and the exploitation of natural resources.
Buying used clothes, home decor, appliances, and furniture not only saves money but also create a more circular and regenerative economy.
7. Recycle and upcycle
Upcycling and recycling are very environmentally friendly practices to adopt this summer. They help reduce the ecological footprint of the products you use and also support the local industry involved in collection, sorting, and shipping.
You can recycle organic material like food scraps and yard debris to make compost. You can also give used items such as clothes a second life by cutting and sewing them to make bags and cleaning rags, or shred them into materials for insulation, carpet padding, yarn, and other uses.
8. Make Zero Waste a family activity
Zero Waste can be fun, especially when you involve the whole family. Take the time to show your children why it's important to reduce waste and what they can do to help.
Even the smallest things add up over time. Reducing the amount we use and making just a few simple changes to our lifestyle already contribute a lot to environmental protection, and create a better future for the next generation.
9. Reduce water and energy use
Beyond reducing material waste, Zero Waste also means responsible consumption and conservation of all resources.
This summer, especially during a period of excessively hot weather, you can practice consuming less water and energy. Here are a few simple things you can do:
- Use LED bulbs indoors as they require less energy and release less heat
- Use a pressure cooker for the same reasons
- Turn off lights and other electronics
- Avoid elevators
- Fill the dishwasher all the way
- Wash your clothes only when you need to and with cold water
- Air dry your laundry
- Take shorter and cooler showers
- Capture rainwater to water your plants
10. Zero Waste is a journey
Remember that Zero Waste is impossible. Producing no waste at all is an unachievable goal. However, it's still possible to reduce the amount of waste we produce.
Zero Waste is a journey, not a destination. Try to do your best and enjoy it. It's impossible to be perfect, so please, don't feel guilty about it. If you are just starting a low impact lifestyle with less waste, take it one step at a time every day.
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.