Summer is brimming with BBQ’s, picnics, graduations, and the promise of a bevy of fun outdoor activities. Much of this season, you’ll find yourself surrounded by good friends, loving family and great food, all in the midst of beautiful natural spaces. Show Nature a little respect — and gratitude — by making an effort to green your summer events. Below are our top 7 tips on how to enjoy the season, without doing damage to the environment.
1. Consolidate Your Travel
Ditch the car! Find a location close enough to walk, bike, or bus/train to. If you simply must drive– we get it, kids, dog, loads of food– carpool instead of driving separately. It will help reduce your carbon footprint, and save you gas money.
2. Snack Local
Bring veggies and fruits from grocers that support local farmers. Local produce eliminates the need for long distance travel (and therefore is another means of minimizing footprint), and is much less likely to be doused in preservatives and pesticides. Just make sure you’re buying organic. Also, skip the meat, eggs and dairy. Not only will this minimize concerns over food poisoning, but it also keeps you from supporting the transit and even toxin chain that can come with eating farm animals.
3. Bring Reusable Dishes
Scratch paper and styrofoam plates and forget about plastic utensils. Pack your goodies in re-useable (and recyclable or compostable) glass or plastic tupperware, bring plates from home, and if necessary, bring forks and spoons from home. This lowers the amount of potential trash being left behind, and avoids the use of non-biodegradable items (i.e., styrofoam plates). Check out the To-Go Ware website, they have some really nice eco items.
4. Use Natural Sunscreens
You and your gang will likely be in the sun for hours, so it’s important to protect your skin. You want a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and B protection), but also one which isnt’ toxic; your skin absorbs about 90% of what you put on it, after all. Try out physical sunscreens– those that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to reflect the sun– rather than chemical ones which absorb it, and whose ingredients can potentially be unstable and harmful.
We get it– you’re bound to bring some non-reusable items. Magazines, a beer cup, a plastic knife, what-have-you. It’s okay– just be sure to recycle what you can. Outdoor garbage cans are already overflowing with trash, much of which ends up littering the ground. Avoid the cans, and go straight to the recycling receptacles.
6. Bring Non-Electronic Activities
We love Angry Birds, Draw Something and Words with Friends as much as the next smartphone user, but leave them home (or at least in the bag) during your event. Instead, indulge in a game of tag, or uno, or any other activity that will keep you away from electronics. When you get home, you’ll have one less thing to charge.
7. Scout Out an Eco-safe Location
When picking a spot to party, we don’t generally consider the avian and mammalian inhabitants. (“No snakes? No spiders? Lets go!” tends to be the attitude.) This summer, don’t forget that where you and your family decide to celebrate is likely the home of a number of creatures, and sometime, their homes are fragile. Bringing kids? Keep away from spaces with trees filled with low-hanging birds nests. Bringing pets? Try to avoid areas with burrows that can be trampled underfoot– or rooted out by nose and paw. And be careful not to decimate flower beds and grassy patches.
Tell us how you plan to “green” your events this summer in the comments below!