Special Report

20 Ways to Make Your Summer More Environmentally Friendly

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11. Use reef-friendly sunscreen

As much as 6,000 tons of sunscreen are estimated to wash into coral reefs every year. Hawaii, Key West, Florida, and some retailers are banning sunscreens with certain chemicals, typically oxybenzone and octinoxate, that studies have shown can be harmful to reefs. Sunscreens without these ingredients are now being labeled as “reef-safe.” Of course, other chemicals in approved sunscreens could still be harmful to marine life. The safest bet is to cover most of your body with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing and put the reef-safe sunscreen on any remaining skin.

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12. Volunteer to clean beaches

There may not be a better place to spend the summer than the beach, but there could be a better way to spend your time there. If you’re looking to soak up some rays and beautiful scenery while helping the planet, then volunteering for a beach cleanup could be for you. Environmental groups, civic organizations, and parks departments organize beach cleanups throughout the year. Just search for one in your local area to take part. People can also collect trash from beaches if an organized opportunity isn’t available.

One of the biggest efforts to clean up beaches, the International Coastal Cleanup, started more than 30 years ago. On Sept. 21, 2019, communities will come together to collect and document trash on our beaches. This effort has helped us better understand how we are polluting our oceans and has prompted some global brands to reduce plastic waste.

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13. Use reusable straws

With summer’s higher temperatures come cravings for cold drinks — from iced coffee to pressed juices — making it the perfect time to try out a reusable straw and help save the planet. There are many options on the market, made from bamboo, silicone, glass, and more, and in several shapes and sizes. Or drink straight from the glass.

It’s estimated that Americans use 500 million straws each day, and that up to 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches. The movement to ban their use is growing as more cities and corporations ban or phase them out. Though in reality straws only make up 0.025% of plastic floating in the ocean, the reason behind the ban partially comes from the ability to replace them with something else.

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14. Wear eco-friendly sunglasses

Sunglasses can range from no-name cheap shades to designer brands that cost more than some people’s rent. But no matter the price, most pairs are not environmentally friendly. They are made of plastic, metal, paint and other materials that are near impossible to recycle and will spend forever in a landfill. To combat this waste, companies are making sunglasses that are eco-friendly and even socially conscious. Some pairs are made from recycled materials, such as fishing nets, reused ocean plastic, old skateboards, and vintage records.

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15. Choose a propane grill

Charcoal grilled burgers may taste great in the summer, but they’re not the most environmentally-friendly way to have a BBQ. When it comes to air pollution, charcoal can’t compare to liquid propane or gas grills, which also serve as a way to conserve energy compared to cooking inside with an oven in a hot summer kitchen. If you are looking for a more eco-friendly option, then use an electric grill powered by a renewable energy source, such as solar or wind. There are also pellet grills on the market that let out limited emissions. These grills run on compressed pellets of scrap wood that would have otherwise been discarded.