Summer Essentials: Enjoy your summer with less waste
“Hot town, summer in the city…back of my neck getting dirty and gritty…” (the loving spoonful)
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Summertime is the time for street parties, street food festivals, music festivals, BBQ and picnics.
It is the time for beach days, lake days, park days, kayak trips, hiking trips, etc…. We are enjoying nature and to be outside.
And we are mostly leaving trash behind while enjoying street food, iced coffees, etc… so it is also the time of overflowing bins and huge amounts of single use plastic spoons for ice creams, huge amounts of single use platic bottles and single use plastic straws for cocktails, frappuccinos, iced coffee, fresh juices and more.
Huge amounts of single use styrofoam and plastic container plus plastic cutlery on street food festivals.
Every time I visit such events I am horrified when I see the overflowing bins and all the single use items….
So to make a difference and to feel better, I am carrying a few items with me to make my summer more zero waste, or as I like to say: low waste.
I hope I can inspire you to do the same… If more and more people would change small things and say no to unnecessary single use plastics, we could achieve a lot of things.
(If you are up for a summer challenge, join the Plastic Free July challenge!)
Whats in my bag?
This is my zero waste kit when I know I might get something from a bakery or street food (collapsible container), a coffee or drink to go (reusable cup), a water bottle, my reusable cutlery, a reusable bag and a small produce bag in case I like to buy some nuts or fruit from bulk and my natural sunscreen. And no, I am not carrying all of it with me all the time. But the water bottle and cutlery and a small bag is always in my bag. And the other stuff only if I might know that I like to get a coffee or food to go.
My ultimate top 10 summer essentials
1) Reusable bottle or filter water bottle
If you live in a country/city with safe tap water: drink it and refill your bottle from tap. I love my stainless steel bottle. If you like glass more there go for it. These are way safer than plastic bottles because no toxins can leach into the water.
If you live in or travel to a city where tap water is not safe to drink, you can use a filter bottle like water to go* or life-straw*, or treat water with UV light or tabs. Get more tips how to refuse single use plastic bottle while traveling in my blog post here and learn more about water treatment and filter bottles here.
2) Reusable cutlery
Easy thing to do: refuse single use plastic cutlery and bring your reusable cutlery when eating out/getting take away.
You can bring normal stainless steel cutlery that you already have in your kitchen anyway.
Or if you need to go through security (airport, festivals) bring bamboo cutlery* with you.
3) Reusable cup
Iced coffee to go, cocktails on beaches enjoy them, but refuse the single use cup. Even if they sometimes look like paper they are lined with plastic. That’s why they can’t get recycled in curbside recycling… Cocktails in plastic cups don’t need to be either. Bring your own cup and then “let’s get the party started”;)
4) Reusable food container
Planning a picnic? Or want to get take away to enjoy in the park? Bring a reusable container for the take away. And fill salad and other stuff into reusable container when you are preparing for a picnic or BBQ.
Reusable plastic container is safe for cold food, but be careful with hot food/hot drinks and plastic or styrofoam as these are known to leach toxins easily when in contact with hot stuff.
-collapsible silicone container* perfect for travel and hiking
5) Reusable straw
Plastic straws are not necessary if you are a healthy person. If you ask me, we shouldn’t get our drinks with single use straws… It should be the norm to serve straws only if requested and necessary. Ask for NO straw please if you see plastic straws in every drink. Write or talk with the business owner about “straws on request only”.
6) Reef safe sunscreen
Conventional sunscreen can be potentially dangerous for ocean wild life and coral reefs. And in high frequented holiday destinations the damage can already be noticed. In Mexico I talked to marine scientists and they showed me pictures of turtles and fish with cancer, caused by stress and toxic ingredients from sunscreen and other stuff. One brand I can recommend and have tested already is the sunscreen from rawelements. It comes in a tin and they even have a tinted version that doesn’t make your skin whiteish.
7) Sustainable sandals
Plastic flip flops… I don’t even know how many I found on beach clean ups already (plus other shoes). Cheap yes, but they also often break quickly…
Every other year flip flops are taken from the shelves because they discovered toxins in the materials or colours. So you might like to choose better quality and durable flip flops, or sandals made from natural materials (cork), from recycled materials or with less plastic materials. (Adidas Parley*, Gumbies*, etc.)
Btw. I love my Birkenstock thong sandals*, I already hiked 20km tours with them.
Sunglasses are very important to protect your eyes from damage.
You could either buy the frames second hand and get good glasses in a shop, or buy glasses made from bamboo/wood or recycled materials.
If you want new but you old is still good, think about donating them!
9) Reusable bags and mesh-produce bags
Buying fruits and drinks (in glass of course;) to take with you to enjoy on the beach? Bring a reusable bag to refuse plastic bags. They just get easily forgotten after a few drinks or caught by the wind and out of sight out of mind but littering and potential danagerous for wild life.
Buying fruits on the markets: Bring your mesh produce bags*!
All kind of bags are easy to make yourself, but also easy to buy in many stores or supermarkets.
10) Natural mosquito repellent
Ugh yes, I can remember the smell of conventional mosquito spray… I always wanted to shower before going to bed… Since I make my own repellent I don’t need that anymore. (Get recipe and instructions here!) You need to apply it more often, but it works fine. If you don’t like DIY or need something stronger, look out for natural spray/repellent.
The green tip
No, you don’t need to buy all these things new (besides toothbrush, toothpaste, the sunscreen or mosquito repellent ingredients when they’re empty 😉 More sustainable and for a tight budget are these tips:
First of all take a look around your home. Do you have spare cutlery put it in your bag, you might have glass jars you can reuse as a cup. You might still have reusable container at home. Don’t worry if they are plastic. It is totally ok to use for cold food. For hot food try and refuse plastic and use stainless steel.
If you buy food that comes in plastic wrapper, and you like to take it with you on a trip to the beach or the park, think about re packing/filling it into reusables. If you don’t bring disposables and wrapper you don’t need to worry about if the wind might carry it out of the very full bin, or the bird might pick it out and it ends up in the ocean or the river as potentially risk for animals who could mistake it as food and die because plastic is not digestible.
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