Most of us would agree that summer is one of the best times of the year, jam-packed with beach days, hikes, camping, hanging out with friends and travelling to new places.
With so much going on it’s easy to lose track of how much extra waste we’re generating. But as our activities dial-up, it’s often the case that our waste does too. This doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some of our hottest tips for a low-impact summer.
1. Travel lightly
This summer could be the first time you’ve taken a trip away for months. For many, it will be a road trip. But maybe you’re boarding a flight to somewhere new. Just because you’re going away, it doesn’t mean you need to throw your sustainable habits out the window. You can do simple things such as:
- Pack lightly – Whether you’re roading tripping or taking a flight, extra weight = extra fuel
- Offset your flights – When purchasing flights, the majority of airlines offer you the opportunity to offset your flight – by paying a small sum on top of your ticket (usually no more than $5) to plant a tree to absorb the carbon dioxide that would be omitted from your trip.
- Borrow, reuse or buy secondhand – It’s tempting to treat yourself to new things before you go away, but a great way to save money and the environment is to borrow items from friends (camping and ski gear for example), or buy second-hand in thrift stores, charity shops or online marketplaces such as Gumtree.
2. Walk and cycle instead of driving
The way we get from one place to another is one of the biggest climate decisions we make every day. Reduce the amount of time you spend in the car by walking, cycling, or using public transport and lighten your carbon footprint in the process.
3. Recycle your excess waste
With all of the extra BBQs, social events and beach days, consumption of single-use items such as food packaging, or hard-to-recycle items such as beauty products goes up. It’s important to recycle excess waste through RedCycle in Australia at Coles and Woolies for soft plastics, and Soft Plastics in New Zealand. For hard-to-recycle items, get familiar with TerraCycle’s solutions for tackling all sorts of hard-to-recycle waste streams including surf wetsuits, razors, toys, dental products, hair care products and aerosols, pet food packaging and thongs.
4. Rehome or donate unwanted Christmas presents
Millions of unwanted presents are given every year during the holiday season. They’re often stored away, collecting dust, when they could be rehomed, upcycled, donated or recycled if need be.
5. Ditch single-use and use reusables instead
Need a New Year’s resolution? Try cutting single-use items from your life. Switching to reusables like coffee cups, drink bottles, cutlery, straws, and shopping bags requires a bit of planning, but it doesn’t take long to get into the habit. And the rewards are great. (In 1 day we waste enough bottles and cans to stretch over 4,000km – the whole way across Australia). Make sure you give yourself a big ol’ pat on the back every time you remember to pack your reusables!
6. Choose environmentally responsible sunscreens
Not all sunscreens are created equal. Some contain ingredients that are damaging to our environment and marine wildlife, leading to Hawaii and some other islands banning their use. You can help by avoiding sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. Look for a zinc oxide formulation instead.
7. Eat less meat
Eating less meat is a simple way to reduce your environmental impact, and a great way to discover new food. You don’t have to cut out all meat and animal products to have an impact; even one meat-free day a week makes a difference. Significant amounts of energy and water go into feeding and watering animal stock and the production of meat.
8. Have shorter, cooler showers
Australians understand how precious water is. Taking shorter showers conserves water and by reducing the water temperature to make them just a tiny bit colder you also save energy, which reduces your electricity bills and carbon footprint. Win-win!