With spring coming to an end and summer just round the corner, if you’re anything like me you’re probably itching to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. But while we still have a sliver of spring remaining, why not use this time to prepare yourself for the ensuing season so you can enjoy the summer months as sustainably as possible.
Protecting your skin from premature ageing and sun damage is so important, and wearing some form of sunscreen is a must for sunny days. But when we’re in the sea, we are unknowingly washing 14,000 tons of the product into our oceans each year, meaning we have to make sure that what we put onto our bodies is sea safe.
A common ingredient in sunscreen to watch out for is oxybenzone, one of the highest-risk chemical ingredients. It contains nanoparticles – a sustainability buzzword I’m sure we’re all too familiar with – which are difficult to remove from our waters. Left in the sea, they disrupt the coral cycles and can lead to bleaching. They are also a danger to humans as the toxin builds up in fish, the fish end up on our plates, and oxybenzone (which acts in a similar way to oestrogen) can result in health problems.
But we don’t mean to scare you and there’s no reason why you should be as there are so many safe alternatives out there on the market. Mineral sunscreens are your best bet and are almost completely reef-safe. In contrast to chemical sunscreens which soak into the skin to provide protection, mineral products sit on top to provide a physical barrier between your skin and the sun’s rays. As a result, they are free from chemical ingredients. They are also a great option for those with sensitive or acne prone skin as they are made from zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which are soothing.
Picnics are my favourite way of spending a summers day. Walking to a secluded spot and sitting round a veritable feast with friends and family is my idea of heaven. But it can be one of the most wasteful ways of eating that there is. It’s so tempting to walk into a supermarket and pick up all their picnic offerings as it saves time. But with plastic being so harmful to the planet and to wildlife (picnics are a killer for litter, and local wildlife can get into all sorts of troubling situations as a result), try to plan ahead.
Bring reusable straws, cutlery, glasses and plates to ensure nothing is wasted or littered
Use reusable plastic containers, sandwich bags or beeswax wraps rather than clingfilm
Sandwiches are extremely quick and easy to make, and can be whipped up the morning of the picnic for minimum effort and maximum satisfaction. If you want to level up your sandwiches, use cookie cutters to create pretty shapes
Sausage rolls and other filled pastries can be easily made with a block of shop-bought puff pastry and whatever ingredients you have in the fridge
Stray away from pre-made salads and fruit platters and instead visit your local market and pick up some fresh, local ingredients to create your own (more tasty) version
But make sure that when you’ve finished your picnic, you leave the space exactly as you found it (if not cleaner).
Try and stay local where you can and ditch the car. Dig out an old map of your area and, whenever you explore somewhere new, highlight it. Aim to have the entire map coloured in by the end of summer. Bike rides are a great way to cover a lot of ground and explore some further flung villages and towns. If you’re thinking about a weekend break, opt for travelling by train or boat rather than plane or car; it’s much kinder to the planet and you can see some incredible scenery en route.
We’d love to know your favourite ways to spend a summers day. Get chatting in the comments to share your tips for a sustainable summer, and be sure to tag us on Instagram @mygaeco when you’re out and about.
Serina Tatham is currently an editorial assistant working for a magazine championing sustainable luxury travel. She has been passionate about the environment for years, and looks forward to sharing her tips and tricks on how to live a more conscious lifestyle with the Myga community. In her spare time, she loves practising yoga (especially yin), discovering new rambles in her local area, and experimenting in the kitchen.