Summer time is finally here, and with it comes music festivals, camping adventures, beach visits, road trips, and so much more. Venturing out into the world each summer brings with it opportunities to have a lot of fun, but also opportunities to be more wasteful than we should be. But how can we move closer to being zero waste this summer? Here are 5 simple ideas to get you going.
Forget about single-use plastics
It seems like every summertime outdoor activity comes with an array of single-use throw away items. Plastic utensils, plastic straws, plastic bags, single-use plates, single-use cups: the list goes on and on and on! Weaning yourself off of these single-use items is probably the biggest impact you can have. Will people think you’re weird for bringing your own fork to a barbecue? I mean, yeah, maybe a little, but the Earth will thank you.
It is next to impossible to fully get away from single-use stuff. Chances are, you’re going to wind up using a plastic solo cup at some point this summer. If you fall off the zero waste wagon, don’t beat yourself up. But do always strive to use single-use items that can be recycled. That way, the waste you are creating can be turned into something useful again and won’t just wind up in the landfill.
Compost your scraps
Some food waste is an inevitability. You’re not going to eat the husk of your corn or the peel of your banana, right? (More power to you if you do!) The U.S. EPA estimates that around a quarter of our total food waste could be composted and diverted away from the landfill. Composting is a sustainable, Earth-friendly way to deal with your food scraps. Plus once it’s all broken down, you get awesome, rich soil for your garden! No more buying bags of dirt (that are kept in big plastic bags!)
Bring a bag
The average single-use plastic bag isn’t just used once, but on average, they’re only used for around 12 minutes before they’re discarded. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that more than 380 billion plastic bags are used each year. These bags can get stuck in trees, end up in the ocean, and can harm wildlife. And besides, who wants to be swimming at a beach with a bunch of bags in the water? When you’re hitting the grocery store for all your beach trip snacks, bring your own bag to help reduce how many plastic bags you’re using.
Always pack it out
We recognize that perfection isn’t practical, that there are always going to be slip ups in your zero waste journey. There will be moments that you have no choice but to use a plastic bag or throw your compost in the trash. If you are creating waste, try to create as little as possible, and if you’re out in nature, like at the beach or a campsite, always pack out what you pack in. Don’t leave anything behind. And no, burning things in a fire pit doesn’t count as getting rid of the waste!
It’s a big task trying to be zero waste, but with a little bit of commitment, you can get yourself on track to waste nothing this summer!