Our overconsumption of single-use plastics has become a major problem. According to the EPA, in 2018 alone, 27 million tons of plastic were landfilled, while only 3 million tons were recycled. And it’s not just the water bottles and plastic bags we use once and then toss; much of the plastic we use every day takes centuries to break down.

So what can we do to reduce our reliance on this non-biodegradable material? For starters, we can make an effort to use more sustainable products that don’t end up in landfills. Here are a few of our favourite sustainable summer must-haves:

THE BEST ECO-FRIENDLY SUMMER MUST-HAVES

  1. Refillable cleaning products; clean essentials kit
  2. Reusable Water Bottle: S'well Stainless Steel Water Bottle
  3. Solar-powered devices: cell phone chargers, solar lanterns, and solar lights
  4. Natural mosquito repellent: citronella candles, plants, and oils
  5. Reusable straws: metal, glass, or bamboo
  6. Non-toxic sunscreen: Badger SPF 35
  7. Multipurpose Baggie: Stasher Silicone Reusable Food Storage Bag
  8. Silicone Stretch Lids: ExcelGadgets Silicone Stretch Lids
  9. On-the-Go Utensils: Bamboo Travel Utensil Set
  10. Natural Deodorant: Schmidt's Natural Deodorant

1. Refillable cleaning products; clean essentials kit

A good sustainable summer starts with stocking your cleaning supplies with eco-friendly, refillable, and reusable products. This includes everything from all-purpose cleaners to laundry detergent. Not only will you save money in the long run, but you’ll also cut down on the amount of plastic waste you produce.

This kit from Grove Collaborative has everything you need to get started, including an all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, multi-surface spray, and concentrated dish soap that can be used to refill your existing bottles. You can also add on laundry detergent, fabric softener, and hand soap.

2. Reusable Water Bottle: S'well Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is important, especially in the summer heat. But if you're using disposable water bottles, you're doing more harm than good. Not only are they bad for the environment, but they're also expensive — costing you hundreds of dollars a year.

Investing in a reusable water bottle is a much better option. We like S'well water bottles because they're made from stainless steel and keep your drinks cold for 24 hours (or hot for 12). They also come in a variety of colors and sizes, so you can find one that's perfect for you. Plus, they're dishwasher-safe and have a leak-proof lid.

3. Solar-powered devices: cell phone chargers, solar lanterns, and solar lights

Solar power is a great way to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels and your carbon footprint. And there are tons of solar-powered devices available to help you do just that. A portable solar cell phone charger is a must-have for any summer adventure — whether you're hiking, camping, or just spending time at the beach. 

Solar lanterns are another great option for camping or picnicking — they provide light without needing batteries or electricity. This lantern from MPOWERD is super lightweight and collapsible, making them easy to pack and carry. And these solar-powered Sensitive PIR Motion Inductor lights from Aootek are perfect for lighting up your backyard or patio — they're water-resistant and come with a built-in solar panel for easy charging.

4. Natural mosquito repellent: citronella candles, plants, and oils

Nothing ruins a summer barbecue quite like pesky mosquitoes. But you don't have to reach for the toxic bug spray to keep them at bay. Citronella candles, plants, and oils can all help naturally repel mosquitoes, and they're much better for your health (and the environment).

This citronella candle from TIKI is made with natural beeswax, and it's got a burn time of up to 30 hours — perfect for a long evening outdoors. Or try a mosquito repellent plant kit from The Home Depot, which includes everything you need to grow your own mosquito-repelling plants

. And if you're looking for a natural mosquito repellent oil, this one from Repel is made with lemongrass oil and citronella oil — two of the most effective mosquito repellents.

5. Reusable straws: metal, glass, or bamboo

Plastic straws are a major source of pollution — in fact, it's estimated that 500 million plastic straws are used (and thrown away) every day in the United States alone. So ditch the disposables and switch to reusable straws instead. Metal straws are a great option if you're looking for something durable and long-lasting — we like these ones from FinalStraw, which come with a handy carrying case and cleaning brush.

FinalStraw

Glass straws are another good choice, and they're often cheaper than metal ones. These straws from Glass Dharma are made from borosilicate glass, so they're shatter-resistant and can withstand extreme temperatures. Or try bamboo straws — they're eco-friendly, biodegradable, and reusable. These ones from Bambaw come with a cleaning brush and carrying case, and they're perfect for on-the-go sipping.

6. Non-toxic sunscreen: Badger SPF 35

You need to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays — but not all sunscreens are created equal. Many commercial sunscreens contain toxic ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can be harmful to both humans and the environment. So it's important to choose a non-toxic sunscreen that will keep you safe without harming the planet.

We like Badger SPF 35 because it's made with zinc oxide, a physical sunscreen ingredient that is safe for both people and the environment. Plus, it's water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, making it perfect for swimming or sweating.

7. Multipurpose Baggie: Stasher Silicone Reusable Food Storage Bag

These 100 % silicone, food-grade bags are a more sustainable solution for storing everything from sandwiches and snacks to roasted veggies, chicken breasts, and marinades. The reusable design means you'll never have to use (and subsequently throw away) plastic sandwich baggies again — simply wash them out after each use (they're dishwasher-safe) and they'll be good as new.

Stasher bags are also freezer-safe, microwave-safe (without the lid), and oven-safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit without the lid — making them just as versatile as their disposable counterparts. Plus, they come in a rainbow of colors and range in size from mini (which can hold about 1/4 cup) to jumbo (which can hold up to 10 cups).

8. Silicone Stretch Lids: ExcelGadgets Silicone Stretch Lids

If you're looking for an eco-friendly way to cut down on plastic wrap, these silicone lids are a game-changer. The stretchy design means they fit snugly over bowls, pots, cups, and cans — essentially any leftovers container in your fridge. Plus, they can also be used to cover half-cut fruits and veggies, as well as open bags of snacks.

The BPA-free lids are made of food-grade silicone and are dishwasher-, microwave-, and freezer-safe. They're also super easy to clean by hand — just give them a quick rinse with warm soapy water after each use. And when they're not in use? Toss them in the drawer (or, better yet, in one of these handy lid organizers.

9. On-the-Go Utensils: Bamboo Travel Utensil Set

Summer is the perfect time to pack a picnic and head to your local park or beach. But if you're bringing along snacks and drinks, you'll need a way to eat them — which is where this bamboo utensil set comes in.

The set includes a fork, spoon, knife, chopsticks, and straw, all made from sustainable bamboo. They're also lightweight and come with a handy carrying case, making them easy to throw in your bag when you're on the go. Plus, they're an affordable way to ditch disposable utensils for good.

10. Natural Deodorant: Schmidt's Natural Deodorant

Summer is the time to ditch your heavy, perfumed deodorants in favor of something lighter and more natural. Schmidt's natural deodorants are made from plant-based ingredients and come in a variety of scents.

They're also aluminium-free, so they won't block your pores or cause skin irritation. And they're long-lasting, so you won't have to reapply them as often. Plus, they're affordable — making them a great option for those on a budget.

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