sustainable solutions for summer: how we can make eco-conscious choices this sunny season

Heather Brown
June 27, 2024
· 5 min read

The summer season is upon us, and with it brings everyone’s favourite outdoor adventures. After a long winter, many of us are finding ourselves reconnecting with nature this time of year, and as we dive into the warm and sunny months ahead, we are reminded of why we do what we do to protect our planet.

However, as we embrace this time of year, it’s also important to remember that many of these adventures – backyard BBQ’s, bonfires, summer roadtrips and beach days all come with an environmental impact.  We have the opportunity and the responsibility to be mindful in how we pursue our summer fun so that can mitigate the impact of our activities.

Keep reading for our top tips to make your summer sustainable!

Keep It Local: Don’t Transport Firewood

There is nothing quite so nostalgic as gathering around a campfire. Roasting marshmallows, singing campfire tunes, and making memories together harkens us back to childhood memories doing the same. However, when travelling to a new area for said fire (for example, if you’re headed out on a family camping trip), it’s important to know that transporting firewood from one region to another can spread invasive species and pests, devastating local ecosystems. Instead, buy firewood locally at your destination or gather fallen branches from the area (where permitted). This small step helps protect forests and maintain biodiversity.

Take Nothing, Leave Nothing

Whether you’re hiking through a lush forest or lounging on a sandy beach, the “take nothing, leave nothing” rule is crucial for preserving natural beauty. When you visit natural areas, ensure you bring back everything you took with you. This includes not only trash but being conscious of things like beach toys (especially cracked pieces, if any break), cigarette butts, and other small items that may be overlooked.

It’s also helpful to take a look around for litter left behind by other visitors and do your part in cleaning up the area you’re visiting. Avoid the temptation to take natural souvenirs like rocks, shells, or plants. By doing so, we help maintain the pristine condition of these environments for everyone to enjoy.

Waste Not, Want Not

Summer is synonymous with barbecues, picnics, and parties. However, these gatherings often generate a lot of waste. Here are some eco-friendly alternatives to consider:

Reusable Water Balloons

Instead of traditional single-use water balloons, opt for reusable ones made from materials like silicone.

Ditch the Disposable Plates and Utensils

Choose reusable plates, cups, and utensils for your gatherings. There are many inexpensive sturdy options available in the camping section of many stores, if you’re looking for a better option for outdoor dining.


When celebrating special occasions like graduation parties or Canada Day, opt for decorations made from recycled or natural materials. Avoid single-use plastics and choose items that can be reused year after year.

Swap your Sunscreen

Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is essential, but many sunscreens contain chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can damage coral reefs and marine life. When choosing a sunscreen, look for those labeled “reef-safe” or “biodegradable,” which use mineral-based ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. This is especially important when you will be swimming in natural bodies of water, where these chemicals will be most impactful. These options provide excellent sun protection without harming the environment.

Offset your Travel

Summer is a peak travel season, but unfortunately, the season of adventures also comes with significant carbon emissions. Consider investigating ways to offset your carbon footprint before embarking on your next big trip:

Carbon Offsetting Programs
Many airlines and travel companies offer carbon offsetting options. You can support projects that reduce or capture greenhouse gases, such as reforestation efforts or renewable energy projects.

Travel Locally
Consider exploring local attractions instead of traveling long distances. This reduces your carbon footprint and helps support your local economy.

Eco-Friendly Transportation
When possible, use public transportation, carpool, or rent eco-friendly vehicles like hybrids or electric cars.

Get in The Garden

Gardening is a fantastic summer activity that connects us with nature and promotes sustainability. However, when gardening, one of the most significant environmental risks is also a huge hazard to human health and safety. It is critical for all gardeners to be aware of the risk of mulch fires, which can occur when mulch heats up and ignites, especially during hot, dry weather. To prevent mulch fires, keep mulch layers no more than three inches thick, water mulch regularly to maintain moisture, and avoid placing mulch too close to heat sources like barbecues or outdoor fireplaces.

One of the best parts of gardening is the excitement and fulfillment that comes with growing your own food. Producing your own fresh produce is incredibly rewarding and reduces the need for store-bought items and their associated packaging waste. It also reduces your carbon footprint by minimizing the transportation of goods.

Additionally, planting flowers and native plants supports local pollinators like bees and butterflies, which are crucial for maintaining biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. Creating a pollinator-friendly garden with a variety of blooming plants can help sustain these essential species and contribute to a vibrant, thriving environment.

Enjoy Summer, Sustainably

The summer season offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature, making it the perfect time to embrace outdoor activities and recognize the importance of protecting our planet. By incorporating these simple tips, we can enjoy our summer adventures in a responsible and eco-friendly way. Let’s keep the summer vibes alive and have endless fun in the sun, all while caring for our earth.