How to spend an eco-friendly summer?
06 June, 2023
And just because it's summer doesn't mean we have to give up on all our good ecological resolutions 😊
So let’s review some of the actions we can take this summer.
Fun and beauty are closer than you think
Generally, in summer, many of us want to go on vacation to the other side of the world to discover the wonders of Thailand, Australia, France or Mexico (you’ll probably want to ignore one or two depending on where you are 😊). But a round trip between New York and Paris by plane is almost 2 tons of CO2. This trip alone represents more than what we should emit in a year to respect the climate balance. At the same time, a round trip between New York and Palm beach, or Paris and the South of Spain by plane, which both allow us to enjoy the heat and the fine sand, will emit 3 to 6 times less CO2. Of course, the ideal situation would be to avoid flights at all and choose a train trip which has almost no environmental impact. Choosing to travel to closer destinations is the greenest decision you can make for your vacations.
Choose the right mode of transportation
That said, if you decide to travel far away, it is always useful to choose the right mode of transportation! Beware of preconceived ideas because it is not always as simple as we think. A 1500km trip by plane for example will only emit around 100 kg of CO2, while the same trip by car will emit an average of 310 kg of CO2 if you travel alone (in a medium sized car). Depending on the distance, the vehicle model and the number of passengers, it can therefore be more ecologically efficient to fly than to drive. But in any case, the train is generally the most ecological alternative.
Of course, the environmental impact of transport depends strongly on the vehicle models analyzed, their fuel and the traffic conditions. But as a general rule, here is the order of the most environmentally friendly modes of transport:
- Train, which is almost always the greenest mode of transport (with 5 to 30 g of CO2 per km and per passenger)
- A medium-sized car with 3, 4 or 5 passengers
- A large car with 4 or 5 passengers
- A motorized two-wheeler
- A car with 2 or fewer passengers
- A large car with 2 or fewer passengers
In summary, if you are traveling alone in a car, you are probably using the most polluting mode of transportation. You should also know that the more stops your plane trip has, the more it pollutes since take-off is one of the phases where the plane emits the most pollution.
What if summer was also an opportunity to disconnect? When you can go out in the sun, go for a walk, visit, do sports, go to the beach or in nature... Why stay in front of a television or a computer that consumes energy? Also think about disconnecting all your equipment when you go on vacation, and avoid leaving them in standby mode for two weeks in an empty house.
Stay on the move!
Spending an ecological summer also means putting the emphasis on active mobility. In many countries, the main source of pollution is transportation. Every time you take your car, you emit CO2. But summer is the perfect time to focus on active mobility. Active mobility includes all modes of transportation that use muscle power to move forward: cycling, walking, scootering, skating, rollerblading, etc. Not only is it perfectly ecological since it emits no pollution, but it is also healthy and economical. And with the good weather, it's the ideal way to enjoy the sun, the landscapes and to do some sport.
Of course, in areas with extreme heat during summer, you should do this moderately, and think about drinking enough water and protecting your skin from the sun!
The right sunscreen
Talking about protecting your skin. There is no summer without sunscreen! However, here again, you have to make informed choices. Not all sunscreens are environmentally friendly! Many contain chemicals that contribute to pollute the ocean, affect the physiology of fish or corals. So remember to choose an eco-friendly sunscreen that is good for your health. For more information, check this article from the Rolling Stones magazine
(Almost) zero waste
Even more than the rest of the year, we have to be careful with our waste in summer. Indeed, in summer we tend to produce more waste and especially to leave it in nature: picnics, water bottles, waste on the beaches, etc... It is therefore necessary to be even more careful: do not throw anything in nature! Also be careful with cigarette butts which every year are the cause of serious fires.
Buy clothes responsibly
Summer clothes are light, colorful and trendy. And we tend to pay less attention to our expenses when we’re on holiday. The problem is that “fast-fashion” (and even the “normal” fashion) is sustainable at all, and most of the time, we don’t wear them again the next year. So before buying any new items for summer, we suggest to ask yourself the 5 following questions:
Need: What need does this purchase fulfill?
Immediate: Can I wait a few days before deciding?
Similar: Do I already have a similar item?
Origin: What is the origin of this product?
Useful: Will this item or service provide me with a primary convenience?
Not all activities are fun (for the planet, at least)
In summer, there are dozens of different activities to choose from, and not all of them have the same impact on the ecosystem. Motorized sports such as jet skiing, quad biking or motor boats are very polluting. Similarly, activities such as diving can quickly become harmful to the environment if everyone starts touching coral or natural areas. To choose eco-friendly activities:
Avoid those that are based on the intensive use of a motor (jet ski, quad, towed surf, etc...).
During your outings in nature, respect it! Don't cut plants, don't take rocks or corals, be attentive to animals and ecosystems.
Prefer activities that require little transportation (and prefer public transportation): Driving for 3 hours to start your 2 hours hike is obviously not eco-friendly.
Avoid activities that revolve around wild animals. Whether it's swimming with dolphins, riding elephants, or petting tigers, these activities are often criticized by animal protection NGOs because of the deplorable conditions in which the animals live. Remember that the best way to protect a wild animal is to leave it alone.
Whenever possible, choose activities that support the local population!
It’s freezing here (easy on the AC)!
We know, it's a heat wave. But that's no reason to turn the air conditioning on full blast. In fact, air conditioning is anything but ecological: it contains fluids that are very harmful to the climate and consumes a lot of energy. And the louder you turn on the air conditioning, the greater the environmental impact. Thus, it is advised never to exceed a difference of 5 degrees between the outside temperature and the temperature of the air conditioning.
Don’t waste water
In summer, we also tend to overuse water. We take several showers a day, we water the lawn to prevent it from turning yellow, we fill up the pool, we wash the car, in short we consume more. The problem is that summer is also the period of greatest tension on water resources. In many areas, drought has been declared and there are therefore restrictions on water resources. But it is up to each of us to consume water responsibly during the summer. In concrete terms, the best thing to do is to install a rainwater collector for watering your plants, not to multiply the number of water games or baths/showers, and to avoid unnecessary waste.
Raise your and your loved ones awareness, and start acting
And finally, since you have time to enjoy the beach, nature and the sun, take advantage of it to become aware of the importance of ecology and to raise awareness among your loved ones. Know that a good part of what you are going to visit this summer risks disappearing if we don't pay a little more attention to the planet. Many tourist sites around the world are threatened by climate change, from the Pyla Dune to Machu Picchu to the coral reef. While you contemplate them, think that these wonders may no longer exist. So take action, and make your family and children aware of all these issues.
And if you want to go further, you can join a climate group to start acting, raising awareness more widely and putting pressure on governments and companies to invest more in the ecological transition.
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Hey there! I'm Khalid, one of Tiramisu's co-founders. I am really passionate about social impact and the role that technology can play in building a better future.