Summer is well and truly here. It’s time to break out the barbecues, slap on the suntan lotion and head to your favourite spots.
But all that relaxing, hydrating, walking and lounging around on the beach comes with an environmental price. All those single use plastic bottles, sandwich wrappers, suntan lotion bottles, disposable barbecues all mount up.
How bad is it?
Plastic bottles purchased every minute.
Number of drinks cans UK gets through each year.
12 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year.
But it doesn’t have to be like this
Here are some easy ways to cut down on waste this summer.
Here are some top tips to help you have a zero waste summer holiday.
Pre-pack Food for the Journey
Most packaged sandwiches use a mixture of cardboard and plastic. Separately these materials can be recycled, but combined together they contaminate one another -leaving them unrecyclable and destined for landfill. It might seem like it is impossible to avoid plastic packaging when looking for a quick bite, but it’s easily enough done - provided that you plan ahead.
If you’re taking a long drive to get to your holiday destination, or have small children that won’t be able to wait until the end of the journey for something to eat then pack your lunch in advance.
If you feel that you need to wrap your food before putting it in your Elephant Box use Beeswax wrap. It’s eco-friendly, reusable and you can even make your own - here’s how from Mommy Potamus.
Elephant Box Recommends:
The classic Elephant Box for your sandwiches.
Big and beautiful. Elephant Box is a lunchbox for a proper packed lunch. A great eco-friendly food storage box and cleverly designed to stack.
Wise up to Water Bottles
Mind-bogglingly we purchase plastic bottles at a rate of one million every single minute. All these plastic bottles invariably end up as waste, whether in the landfill or thrown by uncaring motorists into the hedgerow. There is absolutely no excuse or reason to be using plastic bottles in this day and age. In one recent beach clean in the UK 99 bottles were picked up along every kilometre!
Traveling in the UK you can tap into the wonderful Refill network [http://refill.org.uk/] . This project from the lovely people atCitytoSea connects you with outlets that allow you to refill your water bottle (free of charge) there. Even if your area is not currently covered by the network, plan ahead - look for pubs and cafes on the route that would let you refill your bottle for free.
Our brand new, 750ml stainless steel water bottles are just the ticket for staying hydrated this summer.
Made of food grade stainless steel they give a fresh taste every time, plus 10p from every purchase goes tohttp://refill.org.uk/.
Get Savvy With the Sunscreen
In terms of zero waste, you might think of the negative environmental impact of sunscreen being confined to throwing away the bottle when it’s done.
But, it’s much, much worse than that.
Conventional sunscreen, when it washes off our skin into the oceans is killing our coral reefs. Oxybenzone, a key ingredient in the vast majority of most commercial sunscreens, robs coral reefs of their life giving nutrients and turns them ghostly white.
What happens is that the oxybenzone, and other chemicals,stir the dormant viruses in zooxanthellae, the symbiotic algae that lives inside reef-building coral species. This then causes viruses to replicate and replicate until their hosts explode and the viruses spill into the sea and infect the neighbouring reefs.
So, what’s the alternative? While the perfect answer involves wearing long sleeve T - shirts, hats and staying out of the sun that’s understandably not always perfect. However, there are more practical, more environmentally friendly alternatives. Look for sunscreens that use certified organic ingredients, and non-nano uncoated zinc oxide.Eco-Boost.co recommends several types of plastic-free, environmentally friendly sunscreen, read their posthere.
Head over to Eco-boost.co to check out their post on eco-friendly sunscreen.
Use Natural Soap to Wash off Sunscreen:
Wash off the sunscreen with this wonderful soap. It’s very gentle for skin, all our soaps are fortified with vegetable oils. They facilitate the hydro-lipid reconstitution of your skin. A regular use of our soaps will leave your skin nourished, protected and moisturised.
To Fly or Not to Fly
Flying, it’s a tough one. Environmentalists debate the environmental impact of flying versus other activities. The Smithsonian Magazine does a great number crunching piecehere which breaks down fuel consumed per person compared to car travel - coming out in favour of air travel. However, the Smithsonian Magazine admits that these calculations are based on long haul flights, whereas a UK-based report, which takes into account the figure from a shorter haul flight and a more efficient car - coming out in favour of car travel.
However, these reports are just looking at the environmental impact of two different types of travel in terms of fuel economy. There are other considerations which need to be taken into account - for example, disposable plastics used for in-flight meals, sandwiches eaten from plastic containers during a long drive.
As theGuardian has pointed out aviation amounts to a relatively small percentage of the total environmental impact of all of our actions.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. There is no perfect solution and often taking other actions, avoiding plastics, eating a primarily vegan diet and reusing everything you can will impact equally as much as your travel choices.
Obviously, having a zero waste summer holiday has its limits. Whether we choose to drive, fly or take the train to our summer holiday we are all producing some waste. But, while the goal is zero waste - the journey there is equally as important, if not more so, each one of us in reducing their waste lessens their environmental impact on the planet. So don’t pick holes - look for the positives in your journey to zero waste.
Your Complete Zero Waste Holiday Package
For your zero/low waste summer holiday Elephant Box recommends:
Elephant Box(for family sized packed lunches)
750ml water bottle (perfect for staying hydrated while out and about)
Cups (available in sets of two or four at 350/500ml these cups are perfect for enjoying a drink on the beach).