Sunbathing on the beach, sipping cocktails on the patio, or camping under the stars. No matter how you like to spend your summer, the good news is that fun in the sun is just around the corner! And you can make this season extra spectacular by going zero waste. After all, summer fun shouldn’t be at the expense of our environment.
Wondering what zero waste is? Or how to start? You certainly aren’t alone! While this way of living is becoming more mainstream, it is still in its infancy.
Living zero waste simply means aiming to send no garbage to landfills. You can do your part to reach this collective goal by using the 5Rs.
REFUSING what you don’t need.
REDUCING what you do need.
REUSING what you can.
RECYCLING what you can’t reuse.
ROTTING the rest (compost).
By using the 5Rs to go zero waste, you can embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle and save money—while still having a blast! Try it out for yourself with these tips that will prep you for a zero waste summer.
Say goodbye to heavy sweaters and hello to shorts and flip-flops!
Start by sifting through your wardrobe to get a good idea for what you have (It’s hard to remember all those cute summer clothes after a long winter!). Donate or sell items that you no longer vibe with, and take note of any garments that you want to add to your wish list. From there, you may want to:
Repair. Don’t toss items with rips or holes. Instead, repair them. A ladder stitch is ideal for tears where you want an invisible patch job. However, if you want to make a bold statement or create a one-of-a-kind piece of clothing, give visible mending a go. Visible mending is beginner-friendly, fun, and highly versatile. It is also a wonderful way to add a subtle splash of color to your clothing.
Repurpose. Take note of any off-season items or clothing in your donation pile that can be repurposed. For example, light cotton scarves make comfortable wraps to cover bathing suits or protect your hair from the sun. Have pants in your donation pile? Give them a quick cut job and a hem to create chic pair of shorts. Try iron-on fusing tape for the hem if you don’t want the hassle of sewing. Another option is to skip the hem altogether and leave the bottoms frayed for a laid-back look.
Secondhand Treasure Hunt
Score some unique items and help preserve the planet by shopping second-hand.
By buying secondhand you are saving items from landfills, skipping the excess packaging that comes with new items, and saving money. Therefore, consignment stores and thrift shops are always great places to shop.
Want to shop from the comfort of your own home? Scoop up some great used finds by shopping online.
ThriftBooks – If you can’t find a book you want at the library, head online to grab a copy of your very own. ThriftBooks has millions of used books that ship in 100% recyclable packaging.
Outdoors Geek – Whether you need a tent or a hiking backpack, Outdoors Geek has you covered. Not only is their used gear offered at unbeatable prices, but you can rent it before you buy to inspect the quality in-person and give it a whirl.
Depop – This online marketplace has thousands of independent sellers that sell used and vintage clothing, accessories, and houseware. You can find everything from strappy summer sandals to vintage dresses! It is continuously ranked as one of the best websites for vintage clothing.
Get that picnic basket ready to enjoy lunch anywhere from the beach to the park.
You can plan for picnics early by getting your picnic basket in tip-top shape. You will want to go plastic-free and avoid disposable options. Look for these zero waste alternatives instead.
- A reusable bag or basket
- A tablecloth or blanket
- Reusable containers
- Washable cutlery
- Cloth napkins
- Mason jars for drinks
- Glass or metal straws (optional)
Finally, you aren’t going to want to forget the best part of the picnic—the food! Try a few zero waste picnic recipes to make the experience truly waste-free. Remember, you don’t have to wait until summer to find the recipes you like best. Experiment throughout the year to find what you enjoy. That way, by the time picnic season rolls around your basket will be perfection!
Swapping out pads and tampons for less wasteful substitutes—menstrual cups, reusable pads, and period panties—can help you enjoy summer to the fullest.
If you want beach days where you don’t have to worry about Aunt Flow, it may be time to look at zero waste period products. Many women that make the switch from traditional pads and tampons report positive changes in their cycle that include less cramping, lighter bleeding, and no chaffing in the summer heat.
While changing to any zero waste period products will save you money in the long run, menstrual cups are particularly great for activities like swimming and hiking. You don’t have to remove them as frequently as tampons. Plus, they pose no risk of toxic shock syndrome. However, there is a bit of a learning curve using these cups, so try it at home a few times before venturing out. You’ll see why everyone is raving once you get the hang of it!
Decrease your grocery bill by growing package-free food right in your own backyard, on your balcony, or even indoors by a bright window.
Whether you want to grow vegetables, herbs, or anything that you can get to sprout, planning your garden early can ensure its success. Gardening provides a fantastic opportunity to get creative by reusing recyclables and other waste. To plan for your zero waste garden, you may want to:
- Save seeds from fruits and vegetables to start your own seedlings.
- Keep toilet paper rolls to make your own DIY seed starting pots.
- Collect tin cans or yogurt containers to use as herb pots.
- Upcycle bottles into self-watering planters.
- Start vermicomposting your food scraps and create a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants.
- Dry and grind banana peels to create a natural calcium booster for plants.
- Save coffee grounds and eggshells to mix into the soil.
Buying plants from a garden center or greenhouse? Ask if you can return their plastic nursery pots once they’re empty—many are happy to take them back to reuse!
You can have a fun and memorable summer without creating waste—or draining your bank account. Zero waste is possible, and its benefits hold not only the possibility for an eco-friendly summer but a healthier future for our planet.