Summer Bucket List: 9 Must-Do Items for a Sustainable and Holistic Summer

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It’s almost summertime! It’s the perfect season to embrace sustainability, natural living, and holistic practices. Here’s your summer bucket list, curated especially for people who are passionate about sustainable living, gardening, and embracing the beauty of nature.

1. Plant a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

Pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds play a vital role in the survival of many plant species and the production of most fruits and vegetables. Without them, many plants would not be able to reproduce. Creating a garden that supports pollinators like bees and butterflies is vital for maintaining biodiversity and promoting healthy ecosystems. One of my favorite things to do is plant bee friendly lawns. Yes there are bee friendly laws that should pass muster for the dreaded Home Owner’s Association!

Fun Fact:

Did you know that one out of every three bites of food you eat depends on pollinators, primarily bees? These little workers help to pollinate over 80% of the world’s flowering plants, including more than 120 major types of food crops.

How to:

  • Select a variety of plants that bloom at different times of the year to provide a continuous food source for pollinators. Depending on your location check out these wildflower mixes. (Midwest, Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, Find Your State)
  • Choose native plants, as they are more likely to attract local pollinators and require less water and maintenance. Check out Dutch Grown for native plants unique to your region.
  • Avoid pesticides and herbicides, which can harm pollinators. Opt for natural pest control methods instead.

Budget-friendly tip:

Start with seeds rather than mature plants to save money, and swap plants with friends to diversify your garden without additional cost.

Recommendations:

For buying seeds and plants, consider these environmentally conscious suppliers:

  • Burpee offers a wide range of pollinator-friendly seeds and plants that are non-GMO and often organic.
  • Local Plant Nurseries: Check for native plant sales at local nurseries or botanical gardens, which often provide species ideally suited to your local ecosystem.
  • Seed Savers Exchange: This non-profit organization is dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds, including many that are perfect for attracting pollinators.

2. Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market

Shopping at local farmer’s markets supports small farmers and artisans, reduces the carbon footprint associated with long-distance food transportation, and promotes the consumption of fresh, seasonal produce. I love my local farmer’s market! You can find your local farmer’s market here. Buying local supports the local economy and reduces your oil miles. Food miles is a way to measure how far your food has travelled before it reaches your plate. It is a good way of looking at the environmental impact of foods and their ingredients.

Fun Fact:

The food at farmer’s markets travels about 27 times less distance to get to your plate than the average supermarket produce. Buying from a farmer’s market not only means fresher, tastier food but also significantly less energy consumption and pollution from transportation.

How to:

  • Plan your meals around seasonal produce to take advantage of the freshest items available.
  • Bring your own reusable bags and containers to reduce plastic waste.
  • Engage with the vendors to learn about their farming practices and get tips on preparing their produce.

Budget-friendly tip:

Buy in bulk and preserve excess produce through canning, freezing, or dehydrating which is cost-effective and reduces food waste.

Recommendations:

  • Local Harvest allows you to find farmer’s markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, helping you connect with local producers.
  • Farmers Market Finder: Use this tool to discover the closest markets in your vicinity. It typically provides information about the vendors and their products.
  • Eat Well Guide (for my UK friends): This is a comprehensive directory for finding organic and locally produced food. Enter your zip code to find nearby markets and other food sources.

3. Volunteer in Community Environmental Projects

After covid— I need fellowship! I enjoy being at home, but I need to get out again! And I know that engaging in community environmental projects can bring people together. One of my favorite ways to get involved is volunteering for local environmental projects helps enhance local environments, strengthens community bonds, and form connection with like-minded individuals.

How to:

  • Explore diverse opportunities like local park restorations, wildlife conservation efforts, or sustainable urban development projects.
  • Connect with organizations such as environmental nonprofits or community centers that coordinate these initiatives.
  • Find projects that align with your interests, whether it’s wildlife conservation, urban gardening, or park cleanups.
  • Commit regularly to make a tangible impact. Even a few hours a month can make a significant difference.
  • Encourage friends and family to join you. This not only makes the experience more enjoyable but also amplifies the positive impact.

Budget-friendly tip:

Volunteering requires only your time and enthusiasm, making it an impactful yet economical way to contribute to your local environment and community health.

Recommendations:

  • VolunteerMatch: This platform connects individuals with volunteering opportunities that match their interests and locations, including environmental projects.
  • EarthTeam: Specializing in environmental projects for teens and young adults, EarthTeam offers a variety of activities that help younger generations get involved in sustainability efforts.
  • The Nature Conservancy: Participate in their volunteer events to help with conservation projects globally. They offer both local and remote opportunities to support environmental initiatives.

4. Support Local Artisans

Supporting local artisans and farmers stimulates the local economy, ensures money spent contributes directly to your community, and often results in getting higher-quality, unique products that aren’t available through larger retailers. Supporting local businesses and artisans is not just a choice—it’s an investment in community and craftsmanship.

Why Support Local?

  1. Enhance Local Economy: When you buy local, more of your money stays within the community. Local businesses are more likely to utilize other local services and products, which helps to stimulate the economy in your area.
  2. Reduce Environmental Impact: Local businesses typically have a smaller carbon footprint than their larger, non-local counterparts. They often source goods and materials locally, which reduces the need for long-distance transportation and, consequently, lowers greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Promote Product Diversity and Quality: Local artisans and businesses often produce unique products that stand out from mass-produced items. These products are crafted with attention to detail and quality that big corporations can’t easily replicate.
  4. Support Community Well-being: Local businesses contribute to the character and vitality of a community. They are owned by people who live in the community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.
  5. Foster Connections: Shopping local allows you to know the people behind the product. This can transform shopping from a mundane task into a social exchange, strengthening community ties.

By supporting local artisans and businesses, we not only keep the economic benefits within our communities but also help in preserving the local culture and heritage. Artisans often use traditional methods that have been handed down through generations, offering products that bring a sense of personal connection and history.

Fun Fact:

Did you know that for every $100 spent at local businesses, roughly $68 stays in the local economy?

This phenomenon, often referred to as the “Local Multiplier Effect,” contrasts sharply with spending at non-local businesses, where only about $43 remains within the local economy. This effect occurs because local businesses are more likely to utilize other local services, employ local workers, and contribute to local causes. This not only boosts the local economy but also strengthens community bonds and fosters a sense of pride and investment in the area.

So, every time you choose to buy local, you’re not just purchasing a product or a service—you’re actually planting seeds for community growth and sustainability. Isn’t that a fun and impactful way to shop?

How to:

  • Visit farmer’s markets and local craft fairs.
  • Choose products made locally whenever possible.
  • Shop at farmer’s markets and local craft fairs regularly to make a direct impact on the local economy.
  • Subscribe to community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs where you can receive a portion of a local farm’s production throughout the season.
  • Seek out local boutiques and online marketplaces that feature locally made products, from food items to handmade crafts.

Recommendations:

  • Etsy Local: A great resource for finding artisans in your area, offering everything from handmade jewelry to custom furniture.
  • Local Farmers’ Market Directory: Use this tool to find nearby farmer’s markets where you can buy directly from growers.
  • Farmers Market Coalition: Provides a directory of markets that adhere to certain standards of local and sustainable production.
  • Google Maps: Simply open Google Maps and use the search function to look for specific types of local businesses like “local coffee shops” or “handmade jewelry near me.” Google will display a list of local businesses matching your search criteria along with detailed information about each one.
  • Yelp: Another great directory for discovering local businesses. Yelp provides user reviews and ratings, which can be helpful when you’re trying to decide where to shop. It’s particularly good for finding restaurants, bars, and retail stores.
  • Local Chambers of Commerce: Most towns and cities have a Chamber of Commerce that provides a directory of local businesses that are members. These directories can usually be found on the Chamber’s website.
  • Local Business Directories and Apps: Websites like Angie’s List, Thumbtack, and Local.com also offer databases of local businesses. Some areas have their own local apps and websites dedicated to promoting local commerce, which can be discovered through a simple internet search or community boards.

5. Explore Nature Trails

Importance:

Hiking and spending time in nature reduces stress and enhances physical health. Engaging with nature through trails not only provides physical exercise but also significantly reduces stress, enhances mood, and improves overall mental well-being. Engaging with nature through trails not only provides physical exercise but also significantly reduces stress, enhances mood, and improves overall mental well-being.

Fun Fact:

Spending time in green spaces can decrease levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and enhance immune system function. Research has shown that just 20 minutes in nature can significantly lower stress hormone levels.

How to:

  • Choose trails that match your fitness level and enjoy at your own pace.
  • Leave no trace to keep habitats undisturbed.
  • Choose trails that match your fitness level to ensure an enjoyable experience without overexertion.
  • Pack eco-friendly essentials such as a reusable water bottle, biodegradable waste bags, and a map or GPS device to minimize your environmental impact.
  • Follow the Leave No Trace principles to help preserve the beauty and integrity of the natural environment.

Budget-friendly tip:

Pack homemade snacks and use a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated and waste-free.

Recommendations:

  • AllTrails: Offers detailed information on trails around the world, including user reviews, difficulty ratings, and trail maps.
  • REI Co-op’s National Park Guide and Maps: Provides comprehensive guides to national parks and trails, including tips on what to see and do.
  • Local Outfitters: Check out local shops for gear rentals and recommendations on the best nearby trails for different skill levels.

6. Craft Your Own Natural Skincare

Homemade skincare can be a healthier, more sustainable alternative to store-bought products. Creating your own skincare products allows you to control the ingredients, ensuring they are natural and free from harmful chemicals. This can be particularly beneficial for those with sensitive skin or allergies to commercial products.

Here’s my own personal favorite homemade lotion. I actually use this DAILY!

Homemade Lotion

Four tablespoons of Shea Butter
Two tablespoons of Coconut Oil
One tablespoon of Jojoba Oil
One tablespoon of Vitamin E Oil
One tablespoon of Beeswax
Fifteen drops of Essential Oils

Fun Fact:

The skin absorbs up to 60% of the products we apply to it—making what you put on your body almost as important as what you put in it. Using natural ingredients can reduce exposure to synthetic chemicals that may be harmful to health and the environment.

How to:

  • Use simple ingredients like coconut oil, sugar, and essential oils.
  • Experiment with recipes for lotions, scrubs, and masks that suit your skin type.
  • Research simple recipes for products like face masks, scrubs, and moisturizers that use common kitchen ingredients.
  • Experiment with essential oils for added benefits and aromatherapy effects, but make sure to use them safely (diluted and tested for skin sensitivity).
  • Learn about the properties of different natural ingredients to tailor products to your specific skin needs, such as using honey for its antibacterial properties or oatmeal for soothing inflammation.

Budget-friendly tip:

Bulk buy basic ingredients and use them across various recipes to cut costs.

Recommendations:

  • Mountain Rose Herbs: Offers high-quality, organic ingredients for making skincare products, including oils, butters, and clays.
  • Bulk Apothecary: Provides a wide range of raw ingredients for DIY beauty products at wholesale prices.
  • Local Health Food Stores: Often stock pure ingredients like shea butter, almond oil, and essential oils that can be used in homemade skincare recipes.

7. Start a Compost Bin

Composting kitchen and garden waste reduces landfill use and enriches soil. Composting organic waste reduces landfill contributions and produces nutrient-rich soil that can greatly enhance garden health, making it an effective and sustainable way to manage household waste.

Fun Fact:

Composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage bin and landfills. This process not only reduces methane emissions from landfills but also transforms waste into valuable fertilizer for plants.

How to:

  • Select an appropriate spot in your yard or choose a compact bin for small spaces. One of my favorite compost bins is the rotating tumbler bin. I also love electric composters (which are really dehydrators), but they do a great job breaking down food waste.
  • Layer greens and browns properly to speed up decomposition.
  • Choose the right location in your yard that’s convenient yet out of direct sunlight.
  • Balance green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials in your compost to encourage efficient decomposition.
  • Turn your pile regularly to aerate it, which speeds up the composting process and prevents odors.

Budget-friendly tip:

Make your own compost bin using repurposed wood pallets or containers.

8. Initiate a Seed Swap

Swapping seeds can increase the diversity of your garden and community green spaces. Seed swapping allows gardeners to diversify their plant varieties without the need to purchase new seeds. It fosters community among gardeners and helps preserve genetic diversity among plant species.

Fun Fact:

Seed swapping has historical roots in agricultural communities where farmers would share seeds to ensure a diverse and resilient crop yield. This practice not only helped stabilize food supplies but also encouraged the sharing of local plant knowledge.

How to:

  • Organize a neighborhood seed swap event or join an online community.
  • Label seeds clearly and share growing tips with participants.
  • Choose a suitable venue like a community center, library, or garden club where gardeners are likely to congregate.
  • Promote the event well in advance through social media, local community boards, and gardening clubs to gather a diverse group of participants.
  • Set clear guidelines for what types of seeds are welcome (e.g., no genetically modified seeds) and how they should be packaged and labeled.

Budget-friendly tip:

Collect and store seeds from your garden to swap, which costs nothing and promotes sustainability.

Recommendations:

  • Seed Savers Exchange: A non-profit organization that provides resources for seed saving and swapping. They also offer a platform to connect with other seed savers.
  • Local Seed Libraries: Many libraries now feature seed libraries where you can donate and take seeds. They often host seed swaps, providing a perfect venue for such events.
  • GardenWeb: An online gardening community where members can organize and participate in seed swaps.

RELATED CONTENT – SIMPLE LIVING LESSONS

9. Adopt Minimalist Living Principles

I know that minimalism is so 2015, but I’M STILL A MINIMALIST! Embracing minimalism can lead to a more mindful and sustainable lifestyle and helps reduce unnecessary consumption, leading to less waste. It can also simplify life, reduce stress, and promote a greater appreciation for the things that truly matter.

Fun Fact:

The average American home contains about 300,000 items. By choosing to live minimally, you can significantly reduce the amount of unused items cluttering your homes and the resources consumed by purchasing new items.

How to:

  • Declutter responsibly, donating items that no longer serve you. Check out my post on how to donate and recycle your clothing responsibility.
  • Invest in quality over quantity, choosing items that are durable and timeless.
  • Declutter regularly to keep only what you need and love. Start with one area or room at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Buy quality over quantity, choosing items that are durable and timeless rather than trendy and disposable.
  • Implement a one-in, one-out policy where for every new item brought into your home, one must go. This helps maintain a balance and prevents accumulation.

RELATED CONTENT – SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE DECLUTTERING HACKS

Budget-friendly tip:

Shop at thrift stores for gently used goods, which can save money and extend the life cycle of products.

Recommendations:

  • The Container Store: Offers solutions for organizing your existing items and making the most out of your living space without adding clutter.
  • BuyMeOnce: A store that curates and sells products designed to last a lifetime, helping you avoid frequent replacements and waste.
  • Local thrift shops and consignment stores: Great sources for purchasing high-quality pre-owned items, supporting recycling and reusing goods, which are cornerstones of a minimalist philosophy.

By incorporating these sustainable and holistic practices into your summer activities, you not only contribute positively to the environment but also nurture your own wellbeing. Let this summer be a time of growth, mindfulness, and a reconnection with the natural world around us. Join us in making a difference—one small, thoughtful act at a time.

These eco-friendly and holistic activities, designed to nourish your body, mind, and soul while honoring the planet we call home. Let’s make summer the time of sustainable living, mindfulness, and gratitude for the wonders of nature.

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