Summer is a time when most of us are mainly thinking of having fun and enjoying life – and among the sunset cocktails and floaty warm-weather dresses, pursuits of sustainability might go out the window. But it can be surprisingly simple to incorporate an ethical mindset into your lifestyle. Simple tweaks can go a long way and help you lead by example when it comes to eco-friendly living. And don't worry, you can still enjoy summer – perhaps even more so, knowing that your indulgences have a minimum impact.
1) Have a vegan barbecue. Fire up the grill! Today, enjoying a meat-free BBQ is a no-brainer – everything from burgers and sausages to vegan coleslaw is widely available. And you will truly be making a difference, as choosing plant-based options significantly lowers your carbon footprint, not to mention saves animals from a miserable life on factory farms and a horrifying death at the abattoir. See PETA's tips for mouth-watering barbecue recipes that will convince even the most hardcore carnivore.
2) Avoid animal attractions abroad. Going on a trip? When planning your itinerary, cross out attractions that exploit animals. While some forms of entertainment may be obviously cruel, such as roadside zoos, other are less easy to spot. Swimming with dolphins, for example, might seem harmless – but in reality, dolphins are often taken from their natural habitats and kept in enclosures that can never meet the needs of these wild animals, who swim for many miles in the wild. And selfies with wild animals might look like no big deal, but those cute tiger cubs were likely taken from their families and drugged to avoid the risk of attacks during the photo-ops.
3) Choose vegan fashion. If you're planning on shopping for your summer wardrobe, steer clear of animal-derived fabrics. Instead of silk – which involves silk worms being boiled alive – go for lightweight linen, soft and breathable organic cotton, recycled materials, or plant-based replacements such as Cupro and ramie. And leather, fashion's biggest killer of animals, is easier than ever to replace. Today's material innovation means that there is no need to choose between wearing an animal's skin or harmful petroleum-based materials such as PVC. Instead, pick a design in plant leather made from pineapples, wine grapes, cork, or our material of choice, apple leather.
4) Use reef-safe sunscreen. Did you know that your sunscreen can harm marine life? Sunscreen that contains chemical UVA and UVB filters has been linked to coral reef deterioration – while the term “reef safe” is not regulated, the key is to choose products with physical UVA and UVB blockers rather than those added chemically. Save the Reef has a great list of ingredients to look out for when shopping. And as always, don't forget to check that the product is cruelty-free and vegan.
5) Take part in a beach clean. We all like to enjoy the beach, but what about giving back to it? Sun-drenched weekends often mean that people flock to busy beaches, often leaving litter behind. Not littering is obvious, but if you truly want to make a difference, join a beach clean. Your local city's Facebook group might have events that take place where locals can meet up, armed with gloves and rubbish bags, and spend some time picking up litter. No such event in your town? Start your own! It might just be the push that your local community needs to up their sustainability game.