Summertime Adventures in Low-Waste Living

How will you spend your summer vacation? Now that school is out, you can enjoy the freedom of no assignments, deadlines, or early wake-up calls. Whether you’re staying at home, adventuring outdoors, or traveling with your family, remember the four Rs – rethink, reduce, reuse, and recycle. Here are some tips for low- or no-waste summer activities:

Wash your car at a car wash

Do you help wash the family car? Did you know that it’s more environmentally friendly to visit a commercial car wash? The reasons for this include water use, runoff, and even cost!

  • Full-service or gas station car washes use 15 to 45 gallons of water per car and a self-service, coin-operated car wash uses only 8-15 gallons of water per four-minute cycle Compare that to the average home wash, which uses more than 110 gallons.
  • Under the federal Clean Water Act, commercial car washes can’t send their dirty water to storm drains, so water quality is protected. At-home car washes send dirt and oily residue down storm drains, which contaminates lakes, streams, and the sound.

    Point Source Pollution

    Point source pollution, which can result from a home car wash

If you need to wash your car at home, do it on lawn or other grass, so it will filter the runoff.

Travel lightly

Using public transport or traveling on your own energy can reduce your environmental impact, and also allows you to meet neighbors and locals. You can experience cultures in parks findera slower, more present way when you avoid car travel.

  • If time allows, plan a walk to a destination to which you typically drive. Maybe you’ll discover a fun shop or interesting view you hadn’t noticed before.
  • When traveling to another town, city, or country, learn how their recycling and waste disposal is the same or different from yours.
  • Plan a hike in King County with this map of all our parks.

Shop at farmers markets and Food Vendors

Farmers markets are a great way to get locally grown, fresh food. Find a market near you and take the opportunity to talk with the people who grow or make your food.Farmers Market

At markets or festivals, while you enjoy the wide variety of food from street vendors, consider how you manage the resulting trash. Some street vendors provide food packaging and utensils that are recyclable or compostable. For those that don’t, here are some tips to reduce that waste or handle trash when recycling or compost bins aren’t nearby:

  • Carry your own reusable utensils and cloth napkin. Your friends may be inspired by your example.
  • Skip the straw and prevent plastic waste.
  • Take items such as paper napkins, plastic lids, and bags only in the amount you need.
  • Be willing to carry home recyclable or compostable items to place them in the appropriate bin.

Let us know in a comment what you’re excited about this summer! What low-waste adventures will you have?