No more pencils, no more books; we’re letting landfills off the hook this summer. With school out and warmer weather finally here, summer’s the time we all free ourselves from boring routines and let loose — and sometimes our trash cans reflect that. But all the effort we put into reducing waste during the rest of the year can fit seamlessly into our summers, too.
Check out these top 10 ways to keep waste to a minimum during the warm weather. From spending time at the pool to traveling, these are the easiest ways to green what both kids and adults are already doing this summer. No studying required!
1. Ditch the school supplies. But don’t just stick them in the trash: Inspect all those books, pencils, and backpacks and decide what can be saved (a few tests and pieces of artwork), reused next year (barely-used notebooks), and restored (backpacks — even those with some wear and tear can be fixed up with a good vacuuming and some patches!). Of course, some school supplies should just be recycled (like worksheets, and even some books).
2. Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes! Okay, what we really mean is: Enjoy the season’s delicious produce! Visit the farmers market, check out the new vegetables and herbs available, and then stretch your purchase by using the produce wisely. Use fresh ingredients in multiple meals and drinks, and store produce so that it lasts as long as possible. Leafy herbs, for example, do best trimmed and store in a jar filled with an inch or so of water.
3. Keep cool with homemade popsicles. You can make your own frozen treats at home using a lot of everyday groceries — something as simple as freezing a basket of berries gives you something to snack on and creates a fun alternative to ice cubes. The homemade treats can save on packaging waste, and you’ll be able to make them as healthy (or not!) as you want. Win-win!
Read More: The List: 5 Frozen Treats to Make at Home
4. Stay hydrated with a reusable water bottle. Keep cool in style with your own reusable water bottle and you’ll save countless plastic ones this year, not to mention you’ll be able to save money by refilling it everywhere you go instead of buying new ones each time!
5. Recycle and reuse in the outdoors. Whether you’re picnicking in your neighborhood park or hiking in a national park, it’s as important to recycle while out as it is to recycle at home. Seems simple enough, but if your outdoor destination doesn’t have recycling bins, be sure to pack up your waste and bring it back home so that it gets disposed of properly (of course, you can also use fewer disposable items in the first place).
Read More: A Green Guide to Hiking and Camping
6. Choose natural repellents. Look into some natural repellents that will save you the bottles and bottles of bug spray. You could look into getting plants, like marigolds, that are natural repellents, burn citronella candles, or make your own repellent with essential oils. Some people have also found that a simple electric fan can be very effective at keeping pests like mosquitoes away.
7. Take to the water like a natural. Be it the beach, the pool, or the backyard, enjoying water usually requires a lot of special things with limited lifespans. Switch it up this summer by choosing green bathing suits and hang-drying towels. Meanwhile, kids can get creative and give some kitchen items a seasonal alternative use: Keeping cool in the yard can be as simple as a hose and a colander to help “make it rain” — and with water toys straight from the kitchen, you can ditch the cheap, never-last-more-than-a-season, plastic water toys going forward.
Read More: 5 Swim Season Switches
8. Play equipment-less outdoor games. When boredom strikes, don’t let the shopping bug (or kids’ begging and pleading) get to you. From tag to red rover, there are a plethora of outdoor games that don’t require any equipment.
9. Get crafty. Boredom can creep up during the summertime; combat it by crafting some awesome (and useful) things using items you were bound to toss anyway. Noticing an onslaught of empty glass pickle jars from all your BBQs? Turn them into garden lanterns or terrariums. (The bonus to reusing glass jars: Upcycling glass can be even better for the environment than recycling glass right now.)
10. Make your own souvenirs. Instead of buying rinky-dink, disposable souvenirs from vacations, start a scrapbook or keep a map for a memento that’s more meaningful and less likely to be trashed.
Read More: 3 Fun Ways to Memorialize Family Vacations