5 Tips For A Zero-Waste Summer

It’s summer! For most families this means trips to the beach, camping, exploring a new city, or enjoying a stay-cation. No matter what adventure awaits you and your family this summer, take up the challenge to be zero-waste.

What is zero-waste?

It means doing your very best to ensure that you do not create additional waste/trash that goes to landfills or pollutes our oceans. We want to make sure those beaches, camp grounds, and cities stay beautiful and trash free for all generations to enjoy.

Don’t know where to start? Here are 5 tips for you and your family to enjoy a zero-waste summer (and hopefully a zero-waste lifestyle).

1: #NoStraws

One of the most impactful and easiest things you can do this summer is say no to straws. Single use plastic straws are filling up our oceans and landfills. They take 200 years to degrade and even when they become tiny pieces of plastic they can still cause issues for birds who mistaken them for food. Need straws for you or your family’s drinks? There are many wonderful options that aren’t plastic! There are reusable silicone, stainless steel, bamboo, and paper options. You can even find some that come with their own case. If you want to go straw less but don’t want to buy reusable and are hesitant to drink from a cup without one check out the next tip!

2: B.Y.O.B.

Make summer a B.Y.O.B. affair! Sadly, I don’t mean bring your own beer, I mean bring your own bottle! Single use cups (like the ones that are given to you at many restaurants) are hardly ever recycled properly. Cups made of plastic and can take up to 400+ years to degrade! Ditch those cups and bring your own bottle to fill with your desired beverage. Many restaurants don’t have a problem with you bringing your own bottle! It’s also very helpful for everyone in the family to have their own bottle so you don’t have to worry about siblings fighting over who gets to  drink next. Since we’re talking about plastic again…

3: Ditch the Plastic!

If you stop and think about it plastic is everywhere. From cups, forks, knives, spoons, plates, straws, to-go containers, sandwich bags, even backpacks and art supplies.

How do we stop using plastic?

Bring your own cloth bags to the store. Frequent restaurants that only carry biodegradable or compostable food containers or bring your own! You’d be surprised at how many places will accommodate you bringing your own steel or glass containers to take your food to go. Instead of taking plastic cutlery purchase compostable ones or make or buy a reusable set of cutlery that you can take with you wherever you go! Where can you go to make your own reusable set of cutlery? I’m so glad you asked!

4: Be Thrifty

Head to your local thrift store! Thrift stores are amazing! Here you can purchase your cutlery, find some amazing home décor, and pick up a new outfit without breaking the bank. They are a gold mind for those that enjoy bargain hunting and want to save the world. Because you’re purchasing preowned items this means you aren’t creating a demand for new clothes, home décor, appliances,  baskets, dishes, furniture, etc. It also helps to keep perfectly good items out of landfills. Speaking of landfills…

5: Recycle & Compost

Help keep more out of landfills! You can easily do this by recycling and composting. Recycling is so easy and is talked about so frequently I won’t spend time talking about it. Instead let’s talk compost! What is it? It’s where you recycle organic material like food scraps and yard debris to make compost which fertilizes lawns and gardens without chemicals. When these items are sent to landfills they do not decompose naturally and release methane into the air. They are also taking up unnecessary space in landfills!

We are so lucky to live in a city that is recognizing the value in composting.

Many households can participate in curbside composting and the city of Austin is planning on expanding this program and is holding classes for those interested. Please head to this link to find out more. If your address is not part of this program or you don’t live in Austin you can still find places to drop off your compost here. Need to know more about what is compostable and how to compost? You can find information here!

Make going zero-waste a fun family activity!

Take the time to explain to your kiddos why it’s so important to bring your own bottles, save foods scraps, or go treasure hunting in thrift stores. You’d be surprised how quickly they’ll ask for no straws or remind you to bring their reusable cutlery. By doing one, some, or all of these changes you are helping our environment. Think about this, every single piece of plastic ever made still exists. It will continue to exist long after you throw it away. By lessening the amount you use and by making a few other changes will be doing the world and your family a favor for years to come.

Jaki Milakovic
I'm a mama of 2 ambitious and nonstop girls. Founder & Owner of Brick Drop Co, firm believer in live and let live, lover of science, learning, teaching methodologies (Montessori, Reggio Emilia, etc), not a great crafter, lover of animals, and vegetarian/vegan. My partner and I have been together for 10+ years and we strive to spend time together hiking, playing board games, building Lego, traveling, and spending time with our kiddos, pup, and cats.


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