5 Ways to Enjoy a More Sustainable Summer


Sun. Heat. Swimming. Camping. Ice Cream. All words woven into our summer vocabulary. 

How about adding a few more like “sustainable,” “eco-friendly,” “carbon-conscious?” Many summer family activities can be modified with the environment in mind.

 Here are five (easy) ways to enjoy a more sustainable summer:

  1. Choose sunscreen carefully. Current research has proven toxicity to humans from sunscreen ingredients oxybenzone, homosalate, and octocrylene, all UV filters. These ingredients also harm sea life. Even our beloved mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium oxide can impact fish and coral, but this one uses a non-nano zinc oxide which is more environmentally-friendly. You can also minimize sunscreen use with other  protection. 
  2. Try alternative travel options. Reducing air travel by choosing to drive to one of the many amazing travel destinations in Oregon is a great start for reducing the carbon emissions of travel. Even better, carpooling can be a great option for families looking to enjoy summer fun with others this year. Better yet, plan a bike-friendly outing for the whole family. Family bike travel has grown in popularity with the affordability of electric bikes like this one designed to haul kids and gear. My family opted for for an electric cargo bike in lieu of a second vehicle and my children prefer riding over driving!
  3. Shop local. Few states boast the bounty and beauty of Oregon farms in the summertime. Many neighborhood markets in the Portland area run through summer and fall. Not only do you support a neighbor, you also avoid plastic packaging commonly used in grocery stores. Similarly, buying ice cream from your fave local shop eliminates the non-recyclable pints you buy from the store. Plus, you get to enjoy a cone!
  4. Monitor the AC. With rising temperatures due to global warming, avoiding air conditioning can be dangerous to your health. However, choosing to turn the AC off during peak times, running a fan in conjunction with the AC, and finding other ways to cool down can all minimize the carbon footprint from air conditioning. Heading to the beach or finding a local splash pad can provide the same relief as air conditioning and is much more fun than sitting inside. Portland offers many interactive fountains and splash pads as a way to help residents and protect water resources.  

5. Break out the clothesline. According to greenamerica.org, in many homes the dryer consumes the third most energy of any household appliance. Drying on a line or rack in the summer sun and warm breezes leaves laundry feeling crisp and smelling fresh. You may even find a space indoors to line dry all year long!


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Originally from Ohio, Jen Jackson moved to Portland with her college roommates to attend Portland’s Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in 2003. While there, Jen met her husband Alex, and the couple spent several years cooking at notable Portland restaurants before moving to San Francisco. Both Jen and Alex worked in and ran Michelin-starred restaurants before returning to Portland to be near friends and family. Though still a professional chef, Jen currently stays at home with their preschooler and 9-month old who may be her toughest food critics, yet. She looks forward to writing again, her first love before cooking, as well as reacquainting her family to Portland and the Pacific Northwest.