Celebrate Summer the Green Way!

May 21, 2024

While not technically the start of summer, Memorial Day weekend is its official kickoff! Summer is the time to fire up our barbeques, put on sunscreen, and get out the picnic supplies. Just be sure to stay green while enjoying time with friends and family. It’s easy when you follow a few sustainability tips.

When barbecuing, remember to safely dispose of hot ashes and charcoal to protect yourself and others from injury and to prevent a fire. Dumping hot ashes and coals into the bed of a trash truck could ignite a truck fire and endanger local sanitation workers. Follow these steps to ensure proper disposal:

  • Allow coals to burn off completely and let ashes cool for at least 48 hours. Keep them away from combustible materials.
  • Wrap the cooled ashes in heavy-duty aluminum foil before placing them in your trash cart or bin. Keep your trash cart outdoors.
  • If you must dispose of ashes before they are cooled, soak them first in water before wrapping them in heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  • Please DO NOT mix ashes or charcoal with organic material for composting.

Place any barbeque leftovers and food scraps in your organics pile or bin for composting. Have a kitchen pail handy while cooking to collect any inedible peels, seeds, and stems. Watermelon like that pictured here is a perfect picnic food: it’s easy to transport, and you can compost the rinds when the picnic is over!

Next up: sunscreen. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ultraviolet (UV) rays are strongest at noon, when the sun is at its highest point. Therefore, the FDA recommends staying indoors during peak sun hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the summer. That’s a tall order to ask of us when we want to be outdoors!

When basking in that hot summer sun, make sure to apply a sunscreen that contains protective ingredients, such as zinc oxide, 3% avobenzone, and ecamsule (Mexoryl SX). These compounds are safe for your skin and help block UV rays. Purchase reef-safe sunscreen while at the beach to help protect ocean ecosystems and marine life. If you plan to toss out old or expired sunscreen, discard the contents and rinse the bottle clean before placing it in the recycling cart. (Check with your local solid waste district to be sure your plastic container is locally recyclable.)

And if you plan on spending a summer day at the local beach or park, please clean up after yourself and others. Secure any plastics that might easily blow away in the wind and check your surrounding area for trash before heading home. Trash that gets left behind can make its way into waterways and pollute our environment.

Lastly, be sure to bring reusable supplies for your gatherings.

Photo credit: skodonnell | iStock | Getty Images Plus