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10 easy ways to make your summer more sustainable

It’s easy to rack up the impact, but a few simple swaps will make this your greenest summer ever!

10 easy ways to make your summer more sustainable
WORDS Anna Blewett

1...AT THE BARBIE

“If the sunny weather has inspired you to barbecue, try to resist going for disposable ones,” says Jenny Bates, clean air campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Often fuelled by coal, they’re also smothered in single-use plastic. Burning coal releases clouds of harmful pollutants into the air, and while gas is certainly less harmful from an air pollution perspective, it's unfortunately still a fossil fuel. Go for an outdoor electric one, which if powered by renewable energy, is really eco!” Weber's Q 1400 Electric Barbecue (£274.99, wowbbq.co.uk) is a great urban option.

2...ON YOUR FACE

Did you know our passion for a bronzed look could be impacting the lives of vulnerable children? Child labour is common in the dangerous mica mines of India: sources of the sparkle for many an eyeshadow and highlighter. Last year, Lush ditched natural mica completely, but it's still common in mineral make-ups. “Child labour is probably involved in the making of many products,” says Jakub Sobik of Anti-Slavery International, “but it's very hard to establish which ones. We don't recommend a simple boycott – it could impact legitimate businesses that rely on trade – but we urge people to press their favourite brands to be more transparent.” Go for Green People's Mineral Powder Blush (£20, greenpeople.co.uk) made with mica sourced ethically from Malaysia.

3...IN THE KITCHEN

Our appetite for protein-rich salads spikes in summer, impacting lives across the globe – something to bear in mind when searching for your grains. “While the appetite for quinoa has improved living standards for producers, to meet increased demand, many quinoa farmers have also expanded cultivation of the crop beyond their traditional high-elevation plots,” says the Fairtrade Foundation. “This has implications for the long-term sustainability of quinoa farming. Fairtrade aims to empower quinoa farmers to meet the challenges they face and to improve their living conditions. You can help by choosing Fairtrade quinoa and other produce when you shop.”

4...ON HOLIDAY

“Aviation is a huge contributor of carbon emissions,” says Emi Murphy, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Even without the planned third runway, Heathrow Airport is the UK’s biggest single source of carbon emissions.” So, is it time to join the no-fly movement? “Have a think about ditching air travel this year,” recommends Emi. “From mountains in Spain to valleys in France, there are some truly beautiful landscapes overseas that you can reach without having to board a plane.”

5...AT THE FESTIVAL

There’s no doubt that festivals are going greener – witness Glastonbury's ban on the sale of single-use plastic bottles – but with cheap rain ponchos, wet-wipe showers and lashings of glitter all part of the fun, it's easy to clock up a mountain of non-degradable waste. As ever, partying responsibly involves a little bit of forward-planning. Pack damp cotton flannels in a sealable lunchbox, and pre-load with dazzling biodegradable glitter from ecostardust.com. You can even book a pre-pitched tent at camplight.co.uk – save spontaneity for the dance floor!

6...AT THE COFFEE SHOP

Iced latte season is upon us, so what's your milk of choice? “Of all the plant milks, almond uses the most water, and most almonds come from California which is suffering from a long drought,” says Sus Davy, plant-based blogger and owner of Cascara vegan coffee shop in Bath. “So, look for almonds from Europe – they have less air miles, too.” At home, try The Mighty Society's Pea Mylk (£1.50 per litre at sainsburys.co.uk) made using 100 times less water than almond milk.

7 ...IN THE GARDEN

A freshly-weeded border is a thing of great beauty, but is it time for a more wildlife-friendly look? “By allowing so-called weeds such as dandelions to grow in your garden, you provide food for pollinators like bees,” says Sandra Bell, nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “You can also help animals such as hedgehogs by creating log piles and ensuring your fence has gaps to allow animals to move about more easily.”

8...AT THE CLOTHING AISLE

When heatwaves strike, it's tempting to throw a few cheap maxi dresses and jumpsuits in the trolley during your big shop, but beware. According to waste campaigners WRAP, each new item will seriously contribute to your carbon footprint. Scour charity shops for alternatives, and you'll be saving emissions equivalent to a 6,000-mile car journey, as well as supporting a good cause.

9 ...IN THE VEG PLOT

“Peat is the foundation of a whole series of habitats for rare plants and animals,” says Dr Jillian Labadz, associate professor at Nottingham Trent University. “Prince Charles once called British peatlands 'our rainforests'. It also stores a lot of carbon, which can be released when it's dug up.” According to Jill, peat grows at about 1mm every year, but 20cm per year are removed from the surface of bogs to make the mixes found in most grow bags. The answer is to always buy peat-free: Verve Peat-free Multipurpose Compost (£4.17 for 50 litres, diy.com) is a sustainable substrate that's unusually rich in nutrients, so your garden won't be missing out this season.

10...IN THE SUN

Stocking your handbag, kids' school bags and holiday suitcases with sufficient suncream clocks up a LOT of oil-derived plastic bottles. Try Green People's suncare range, now in plant-derived packaging made from carbon-negative sugar cane – try Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF 30, £16 for 100ml from greenpeople.co.uk.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our Tried-And-Tested Guide To Fairtrade Shopping