4 ways to give the planet a summer break

Enjoying the outdoors shouldn’t imperil the Earth. Give Mother Nature a vacation with easy-on-the-environment ideas.

1. Smart sunglasses

Made into shades: It’s estimated that discarded fishing gear accounts for more than half the total weight of plastics floating in the ocean. Search online for “recycled sunglasses” and you’ll find several options made from recovered ocean debris, including “ghost” fishing nets that were lost or abandoned.

2. Reef-safe screen

Block out toxins: Protect your skin and marine life at the same time. Avoid sunscreen ingredients such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. When they end up in water, they can harm corals and other ocean dwellers. More ideas: Seek shade—and find additional guidance at oceanservice.noaa.gov/sunscreen.

3. Eating out(doors)

Dishware from plants: Whether it’s an afternoon in the park or a patio party, avoid single-use items, which account for half of all plastic produced. If you do opt for disposable products, consider those made from palm leaves or fast-growing bamboo, and reuse them a few times when possible. A keyword search for “plant-based dishware” yields options for most needs and budgets.

4. At the beach

Algae-based plastic: Solutions to the tide of plastic waste on shorelines might lie within ocean organisms. Surfers, scientists, and designers are trying out algae instead of fossil fuels to make outdoor gear such as surfboards and flip-flops. No matter what you take to the beach, make sure it heads home with you.

For more stories about how to help the planet, go to natgeo.com/planet

This story appears in the July 2021 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Read This Next

How your favorite plant-based milk impacts the planet
Christianity struggled to grow—until this skeptic became a believer
Winter is coming. These trips help you embrace it—or escape it.

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet