In Indonesia right now (and from what we've been told, pretty much all year long) it already feels like August. If you're from New England, you'll know that's the kind of heat where you basically are either in the water or melting, the kind where walking through a parking lot feels like walking across a frying pan, and the kind where you lay in bed at night on top of the sheets wondering if you should take one more cold shower before trying to fall asleep again. I happen to love this weather (Porter, not so much), but regardless, it has summer on both of our minds.
Because we've gotten a lot of positive feedback from the blog posts we do with "quick tips" or lists of ways to adopt a more minimalist/sustainable lifestyle, we thought we'd put one together leading into our favorite season. Some of these are simple things, but others might surprise you. In Bali, as you probably already know if you've been keeping up with these posts, we've gotten kind of over-zealous about the state of the planet, and especially the need to put more effort into the really simple ways we can help to preserve it. We aren't talking about earth-shattering changes, just small things that, if everyone were to get on board, could genuinely change the air we breathe, the water we swim in, the temperature surrounding us, and the future ahead (you know, the things that matter more than "I don't want to walk to the hardware store to purchase a recycling bin").
This past week, we've been staying on a tiny island off of Bali called Nusa Lembongan and had the opportunity to explore this little trio of islands that include it and Nusa Ceningan & Nusa Penida with The Lembongan Traveler. This area is pretty popular for day trips because it's known for some truly incredible secret coves, snorkeling, and hikes, but a really small percentage of travelers actually spend the night out here. This means that around three o'clock every day it empties out, and you become just one in a small handful of tourists. Something we didn't realize about Bali before getting here is that it's densely populated. We should've figured because Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world, but you see the photos and you kind of just imagine it as, well, at least somewhat empty. This can be the case further to the north, but in general Bali is pretty happening no matter where you go. Nusa Lembongan is the opposite. You can walk in the middle of the road here, be one of two groups in any given cafe, take a boat nearly anywhere through coves of mangroves and see colorful fish straight through the water below you...we're going to get more into all this in our guide to the islands coming later this week, but I just wanted to throw an intro in here because we've included photos from our time there in this post...
Okay, back to the main subject, here are ten ways to have a more sustainable summer:
1. Carry a Water Bottle
Remember that stat we shared that each American throws away an average of 185 pounds of plastic a year? That should be enough motivation to make the switch. Check out S'well, Copper H20, and Fressko for some great options.
2. Use an Eco-Friendly Sunscreen
Even though you typically think of sunscreen as something your skin absorbs, the fact of the matter is thousands upon thousands of pounds of sunscreens wash into our oceans every single day causing all kinds of nasty things to happen (like coral bleaching). The sunscreen you choose as your "lifetime" brand can have a dramatic effect on how much you affect the planet throughout the course of your beach days. Choose a brand that is oxybenzone free and stick to it throughout this summer season (our favorite is SunBum).
3. Write A Note on Your Mailbox That Says, "No Menus, Please!"
If you live in a walk-up in any given city, I'm sure you get a whole lot of unexciting mail, typically in the form of a handful of menus from the same restaurant trying to attract new customers. Throw a sticky note on your mailbox saying "no menus please" and maybe some of your equally-frustrated neighbors will follow suit. If restaurants think they're off-putting customers by passing those things out, the habit will die more quickly.
4. Walk (Or Bike) Instead of Ubering
It's summer, after all, and I guarantee all winter long you were saying in your head that, once the weather was warm, you would never pass up an opportunity to be outside again. Stay true to your word..even if you never said it out loud.
5. Go Vegan (even if it's just once a week!)
Did you know that if every American took meat off their dishes one day a week, it would have the equivalent impact of taking 500,000 cars off the road, or that it would save 1.4 billion animals (you read that right, BILLION) from slaughter. Once a week is not a huge change for each of us, but it is for the environment.
6. Avoid Buying Fast-Fashion Swimwear
7. Repurpose Something You Typically Throw Away or Recycle
Porter and I recently decided to do this and have been think-tanking how to repurpose a few different things in our apartment this summer. One thing we're going to do is save up all of our glass jars of various shapes and sizes and make candles. By we, I mean me, but Port said he'd hang out with me while I did it to offer emotional support. Hopefully this will also be a big money saver because candles are not cheap and we really cannot live without them.
8. Grow Something
I in no way have a green thumb, but just growing one or two small things that you typically cook with in a small planter box in your window can positively impact the environment. Think how far your herbs typically have to go in order to get to you. From your window to your kitchen is a much smaller carbon footprint. (We grow mint and basil).
9. Make Your Own Organic Cold Brew
Check out this site to learn how. It will save you money, it will save you the stress of having to worry about all the toxins in your coffee, and it will save you from having to remember to bring a reusable cup to your local coffee shop.
10. Opt for Linen instead of Cotton
Did you know that linen is often listed as the most biodegradable fabric? Also, linen lasts some say for up to four to five decades when it comes to things like sheets. Cotton can't stand up to that test. Also, it's completely plant-based from a plant that actually has so many uses that nearly none of it goes to waste - flax (bet you never thought that flax seed in your granola was from the same plant as your favorite summer shirt).
We hope these are helpful, and that you'll have fun picking and choosing which ones to work into your summer!
I always find it amusing how instantly empowering making one quick switch for the planet can be...it can be as simple as throwing a big pile of needless mail into the recycling and, suddenly, you feel like you're Smokey The Bear and should be off lecturing others on their destructive habits. Obviously, don't be obnoxious about switches you make if you come across others who care (for whatever reason) a bit less....we've actually found the best way to get another twenty-something interested in something eco-friendly is, instead, to point out about five different ways its cheaper. At the end of the day, no one who wants to afford guac will argue with you over whether it's worth saving the money...
Anna Lisa & Porter
*Thank you to the Lembongan Traveller for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts & opinions remain our own.