As temperatures begin rising and days get longer, more and more people come out of hiding, spending time doing quintessential summer activities like having picnics, going to BBQs, and attending plenty of concerts and festivals. However, as much fun as summer brings, it also brings a lot of waste.
Taking the time, especially throughout summer, to make more green, conscious decisions can help lessen your impact and overall footprint this summer (and all the ones after). Here are some ways you can help Mother Earth not only in summer, but throughout each season:
1. Say Adios to Plastic
Take a page out of Seattle’s book and ban plastic straws, utensils, and bags from your life, especially in summer when iced coffees and BBQs are aplenty. On average, according to the National Park Service, Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day. Moreover, plastic utensils and bags, although convenient when enjoying a nice outing with friends or family, are seriously damaging to the environment.
Unfortunately, plastic isn’t easily recycled and, as Get Green Now explains, “Takes up to 200 years to degrade, but will never be fully off the Earth, as plastics are not biodegradable. To make matters worse, the degrading of plastic releases chemicals that are toxic to wildlife and the environment.” Plastic also ends up in the ocean more often than not, harming the plant and animal life there. Frankly put, excluding plastic as much as possible from your life and replacing disposable products with reusable ones, is an important way you can take better care of our planet.
2. Recycle, Even When It’s Inconvenient
What do fairs, concerts, and festivals all have in common?
Besides huge crowds, they usually have a complete lack of proper recycling bins.
Considering the amount of traffic these summertime events get, the amount of trash that piles up is alarming. Furthermore, there are rarely — if any — proper recycling bins available, so even if you are trying to recycle while attending one of these attractions, you can’t! It also gets tricky considering that many events won’t allow you to bring in your own reusable water bottles or containers.
A good place to start is writing a letter or making a phone call to the appropriate person to look into placing more recycling options at your local fair and concert arena. Also, as inconvenient as it might be, consider storing any recyclable items in a bag and then properly disposing of them after the event is over. And of course, encourage others to follow suit. It can seem over the top to some, but taking care of the planet should be one of our highest priorities, even when we are jamming out to our favorite bands.
3. Less Food Waste, a Happier Place
In summer, having parties or small gatherings happens a lot more frequently, especially if you are lucky enough to have a backyard or a balcony with a stunning view. However, as much fun as these summer get-togethers are, oftentimes, a lot of food goes to waste. The United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that in 2014, “we disposed of more than 38 million tons of food waste. By managing food sustainably and reducing waste, we can help businesses and consumers save money, provide a bridge in our communities for those who do not have enough to eat, and conserve resources for future generations.”
Whether the host has had a bit too much to drink and accidentally leaves the egg salad out or too many guests end up bringing their favorite dish, food gets wasted. Figuring out a method to combat waste can reduce your summertime food waste footprint. Try:
Starting your own home composting bin
Specifically assigning your guests dishes to bring
Finding unique ways to cook your leftovers
Storing your produce properly (so it doesn’t go bad before you can eat it)
It may seem simple, but small steps like these can really shrink the amount of waste we produce each year. Slowly but surely, we are collectively working to reduce our individual carbon footprint on our lovely planet. Summertime presents different challenges when it comes to recycling and reducing waste, but it is possible! Including sustainability in not only your summer plans but overall lifestyle can help preserve the environment, and hopefully one day Mother Nature will know a world without waste.