5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Zero Waste Summer Fun

Imagine your perfect summer day. It’s sunny, but not too hot, and you have nothing on your schedule but enjoying yourself. Maybe you spend the afternoon reading by the pool, taking a quick hike or having a picnic with friends.

This summer, many of us are eager to return to the activities we’ve been missing during quarantine. And, the good news is, we can do it in a way that won't harm the planet.

Zero-waste summer fun doesn’t have to be time-consuming, stressful or expensive. In fact, making more sustainable choices can help you simplify and enjoy more of what you love!

Why is it important to aim for a low-waste summer?

A study by the World Economic Forum found that every minute the equivalent of one garbage truck-full of plastic gets dumped into our oceans. And, plastic waste often increases during the summer months.

Take a second to picture all of the waste created on a typical summer afternoon. You might think of plastic cutlery, single-use water bottles, popsicle wrappers or water balloons. And, the list goes on.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can form new habits that help you create amazing summer memories, without creating excess waste.

The Key to Zero-Waste Summer Fun

If we had to choose one tip for having a more sustainable summer, it would be preparation.

And really, this is the key to success in most areas of zero-waste living. When you prepare, you can easily make zero-waste choices without last minute stress.

To help you get started, we have five simple ways you can prepare for zero-waste summer fun.

Get Ready for Zero-Waste Summer Fun with These 5 Easy Tips

You can adapt these tips for any schedule or budget. Whether you’re planning a summer with kids or friends (or a trusty pup), these ideas will help set you up for success. 

1. Create A Bucket List of Summer Activities

Start by taking some time to think about what activities you’d like to do this summer. You can brainstorm with family or friends to get started. With some creativity, you can make your favorite activities more sustainable. And, don’t be afraid to try something new!

A few of our go-to summer bucket-list items are:

Camping trips. Spending time outdoors always helps us remember why we care so much about the environment. Take some time to plan ahead so you can enjoy camping without creating excess waste.

Sustainable summer travel. If you’re thinking about taking a trip this summer, we have some simple tips to help you make your travel easy on the planet.

Biking or walking tours. Even if you’ve lived in your area for a long time, try viewing it with a new perspective by taking a bike or walking tour. You’ll skip the emissions and gain an unforgettable experience.

You could also try organizing an outdoor read-a-thon, planting a summer garden or hiking a new trail in your area.

2. Explore Local Opportunities

While you’re planning your summer, don’t forget to check out what’s happening near you. Many communities host summer activities for all ages.

One of our favorite zero-waste summer pastimes is scouting out the local farmers’ market. Shopping at a farmer’s market helps you reduce your carbon footprint and score the freshest, most nutrient-rich produce. (Plus, it tastes amazing.)

Remember to bring your reusable bags or containers to store your tasty treasures in, such as a zero waste farmer's market kit

Not sure if you have a farmers' market in your area? You can check with your local recreation department, city hall or community center to learn more.

3. Remember Your Zero-Waste Summer Essentials

Have you ever found yourself searching for sunscreen when everyone’s ready to run out the door? One way to reduce chaos (and waste) is by building a grab-and-go kit with your zero-waste essentials. Consider tossing in:

Zero-waste sunscreen. Most conventional sunscreens contain icky chemicals like Oxybenzone and often come in a plastic tube. Look for a sunscreen with responsible packaging like aluminum or glass and natural sun protection that won't harm your health or the environment.

Insect repellent. Similar to sunscreen, most bug spray is full of harmful ingredients. Luckily, there are zero-waste options that help keep insects away naturally in a compostable tube.

Reusable water bottle. Staying hydrated is key in hot weather, so bring along a water bottle to fill up along the way.

Plastic-free bandages. When you’re having fun, a few scrapes are bound to happen. Always use up the bandages you have, then switch to something more sustainable, like compostable bandages made from organic bamboo

Zero-waste deodorant. Stay fresh during your outdoor activities with a plastic-free deodorant. Some natural deodorants melt in high heat, but they resolidify at room temperature.

Hair ties or a hat. Consider slipping a biodegradable hair tie or hat into your kit so you can stay cool.

Sustainable snacks. Adventure makes you hungry, so pack some snacks in eco-friendly containers or reusable silicone bags before you head out. (Don’t forget a cloth napkin and reusable utensils, when needed.)

4. Get Creative Planning Eco-Friendly Summer Events

Hosting a family party or planning a group picnic? You can still have a blast without creating unnecessary waste.

You can reduce plastic use by focusing on finger foods that don’t require utensils to eat. Or you could ask each attendee to BYO plate or container from home. (Remember bringing your own meal kit to summer camp?)

When you’re planning a special day, it’s easy to get caught up trying to make things perfect. But stressing yourself out because you’re not 100% zero-waste can make it harder for you to enjoy the event. Instead, set your priorities and do what you can. Every little bit helps.

For more inspiration, you can check out these ideas for throwing a zero-waste kids’ party.

5. Share Your Summer Vision With Family & Friends

Most of my happiest summer memories are the days spent with loved ones. So, as you dive into summer fun, let your loved ones know how important the planet is to you!

You could start by chatting with family and friends about your goals for a sustainable summer. Then, you could come up with ideas together. You may be surprised by how many of them want to join in. After all, achieving any goal is easier when you have a team to support your goals.

Enjoy a Sustainable Summer

We wish you a happy, healthy summer. And, we hope this list has inspired you to discover new, simple ways to enjoy zero-waste summer fun.

We’d love to hear about what you have planned for this summer. And, if you have any tried-and-true zero-waste summer hacks, we’d love to hear those too. Let us know in the comments!