With Summer getting fully in swing, the Kiwi way of spending days and evenings outside begins. Either because it’s breezier and cooler than inside, you’re BBQ’ing, or having a cooling water fight, outside is the place to be in summer.
So how can we enjoy a sustainable outside experience?
One great way to enjoy the outdoors is to grow your own vegetables. Summer is obviously the best season for this, as pretty much everything grows. I am not the possessor of a green thumb, but some things are hard to kill, even for me. As there is more than likely more sunshine than rain in summer (as there should be!) watering often and enough is often the leading cause of death.
To avoid plastic packaging at the supermarket, grow spinach, kale and pick lettuce. Cherry tomatoes are delicious to pick and eat straight from the plant. Rambling tomatoes require no staking, so are easy to grow.
Cucumbers and Courgettes go crazy and need to be frequently harvested.
Vegetables are great if you are renting too. As many things can grow well in raised vegetable beds.
I am in the Wairarapa, so our sunshine hours make it easy to grow many veggies. Tui has a great planting calendar to help guide your decisions.
This is a tricky one. Ideally, a saltwater pool would help rid us of chemicals, but these require a bit of research and would be difficult in a pop-up pool as salt and plastic pools aren’t ideal.
Freshwater would be best, but this needs frequent replacing as algae grow with the higher temperatures. In summertime where there is a low supply of water, this is not possible (nor considerate to all the other people using the same water supply).
A balance of fresh water a little chlorine and a pool vacuum might be a good way to cool off sustainably.
This more comes down to the kind of food to use on your BBQ than the BBQing itself. There have been studies that show that when cooking meat the fat dripping onto the charcoal burns and becomes PAH-infused smoke which then coats the cooking food. This is as well as releasing pollution into the air (and your lungs). Propane (or LPG to us) BBQ’s are safer, but make sure you clean them!
Source sustainable meats meaning organic, free range and preferably local, unless you are vegetarian /vegan… then maybe a BBQ isn’t best for this kind of food.
Now, this is something I can get on board with for a sustainable way. Sometimes a good old hose and a bucket are all that’s needed for some fun (water guns are always plastic and break easily). We had a bit too much fun in Thailand for Songkran, which is the Buddhist new year, which has been adapted into a country-wide water fight in their hottest month.
Back in NZ I still love a good water fight, which for tends to be an all adults battle.
If you are a water balloon fighter, rather than litter your lawn in non-biodegradable latex, you can opt for a reusable crochet water balloon.
Watch this space, we will be selling these soon!
One serious issue we have in New Zealand is the sun. With no ozone layer, we need more protection than other countries. That old “Slip Slop Slap” campaign comes to mind. I prefer to stay in the shade where possible and avoid the sun at peak hours. But sometimes a simple stroll down the road, outside gardening or being in the pool can cause sunburn. A large hat and long sleeves may be the answer, but sometimes its just too hot for this!
With our countries high rates of melanoma, sunscreen is nothing to be skimped on. This is where being zero waste may not be easy, there are recipes to make your own and herbal brands, but some of these homemade options do not have a high enough SPF to protect us and they may not last in the water.
We don’t spend the summer just in our backyard but at the river, beach or in pretty much any body of water.
This is where our sun protection can actually cause harm to the environment. Even washing off sunscreen down the drain in the shower or sink can inadvertently get into our delicate ecosystem, like with the effects of our laundry room.
Biodegradable sunscreens are the best, as they will naturally protect you, but also break down in the environment.
There is a lot of information surrounding this issue. Parts of Mexico and now Hawaii has even banned sunscreens containing the two most harmful ingredients to the coral, oxybenzone and octinoxate. I hope NZ follows suit soon!
There is so much more to being sustainable in the great outdoors, but this post is directed to the home exterior aspect.
Have a great Summer!
I am not affiliated with any of the outward links, I just find their information and/or products great!