Many of us have an idea of the perfect summer itinerary. For some, it includes traveling, for others a lot of sunbathing. Whatever's on your list, it's important to keep in mind the environmental impact we're having. Here are a few things to consider when planning your summer recreation.
Ditch the water balloon fights.
Water balloons are all fun and games until they pop. Maybe you wanted to be splashed, but nobody wants to pick up the tiny balloon pieces when it's over. Resist the temptation of water balloons and instead opt for a sprinkler or good ol' water gun fight. And while you're at it, pick a grassy spot where the water will feed the lawn instead of somewhere the water will go to waste.
Take a more unique road trip.
Sure, packing the car full of friends and good music is fun, but driving around the country has a significant impact on the carbon emissions from your exhaust pipe. This summer, plan to take a train instead! The tickets are relatively cheap – definitely comparable to the cost of gas – and a seat on a train makes it more about the experience. Bring some friends, snacks, a deck of cards, and enjoy countryside views without traffic or gas station stops.
Opt for shade or an eco-friendly SPF.
Sunscreen is smart. No one wants a burn to ruin the summer fun. However, your standard sunscreen brands include toxic chemicals. Not only are you rubbing these into your skin, but it can also be incredibly harmful to the environment (primarily the already-dying coral reefs) when there's an over-spray or runoff from your body. When you're buying sunscreen, opt for an ocean safe brand or make your own!
Turn your beach trip into a beach cleanup.
Heading to the beach with friends? Plan to bring a bag or bucket to bring along, and whenever you see pieces of plastic or trash strewn about the beach, take a moment to pick it up. You don't have to devote the day to it -- just take a minute here or there to pick up whatever waste you may find. This will benefit all the marine life and sea birds out there, and it might just inspire other beach-goers to do the same thing!
Save money, save the planet.
Yes, we're all grateful for air conditioning on the hottest days, but most of us don't think about the environmental impact of our AC units. Not only are we paying for the energy used to fill our homes with cool air, but we're also essentially paying to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So, think hard about getting an air conditioning unit installed and try to stay cool using other methods besides blasting the AC, the atmosphere will thank you for it.
Neutralize your plane rides.
Tropical vacations are well worth the long flights, but the CO2 emissions from a single plane ride are massive. And as easy as it is to book a flight and end up on the other side of the country, air travel demand has increased in recent years. The best thing to do is simply fly less. If you have to fly, choose direct flights instead of layovers to save fuel burned during each takeoff. In addition, buy offsets whenever possible. They aren't very expensive and are essentially donations to places like wind farms or forest conservation programs that will reduce other forms of CO2 entering the atmosphere to make up for the CO2 from your flight. Just make sure it's a credible organization.
So, whatever your summer plans may entail, be sure to opt for as many eco-friendly activities as possible. Our summers are hot enough without the warming that comes with climate change, so we all have to do our part to reduce our carbon footprints and make sustainable choices. Above all, be safe and enjoy your summer!