An updated version of Top Tips for a Plastic-Free Summer (2021).

Fresh, juicy watermelon. Wind-whipped hair, sunglasses, and the familiar smell of sunscreen. Canadians across the country often take advantage of the warm summer weather to go camping, attend or host picnics or barbeque parties, or go on road trips. As you gear up to enjoy the upcoming summer months, here are some tips and tricks that will help you experience these classic summertime plans  sustainably.

Parties and Picnics

  • Avoid purchasing single-use plastic dishes, cups, and cutlery. Reusable serveware you already own is the most sustainable option for packing up foods to go.
  • Skip pre-packaged foods and pack your own. Why not try a salad, vegetables, fruit, and cheese trays?
  • Pack it up: food sent to landfill rots instead of composting and releases methane (CH4) in the process, a gas that is more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide (CO2). Instead of throwing leftover food in municipal garbage bins, take it home to sort it into your municipal organic waste, or add it to your home composter if you have one. Make sure to bring a container for scraps with you and a cloth napkin or reusable paper towel to wipe dishes.
  • Make sustainable décor choices. You can make your own reusable décor by upcycling materials or collecting natural botanicals like pinecones. Not interested in crafts? Local artisans at your farmer’s market might be selling exactly what you’re looking for to add a little flair!
  • Avoid the use of straws or bring reusable ones.
  • Barbeques: consider using a wooden scraper instead of a bristled brush to clean your grill.
  • Reduce the impact of your food by trying out vegetarian or vegan options. Need some inspiration? Browse these BBQ recipes from!

On the Road

  • Being on the road and away from home can often mean generating more waste and having a higher environmental footprint. The following tips can help you reduce your impact.
  • Bring a reusable coffee thermos and water bottle with you. If you forget your reusables often, why not prepare a travel-dedicated tote bag with your reusables ready to go? If you travel by car, leave it in your trunk so it’s always with you.
  • Bonus tip: choose dishwasher friendly reusable beverage containers so they’re even easier to clean between uses.
  • If available, use public transport and bicycle sharing programs
  • Ice cream: choose cones instead of plastic bowls and spoons so you can eat the container! If you don’t like cones, ask for a reusable bowl.
  • Are there local low-waste stores along your travels? Check the Share, Reuse, Repair Hub ( to explore circular, sustainable businesses and events. Is the area you’re traveling through not listed on the platform? Use your voice to help the platform expand by expressing your interest here.

Camping and Hiking

  • Consider carpooling when travelling with others.
  • Skip prepackaged snacks. Make your own trail mix, granola bars, muffins, and portion into reusable containers or snack bags. If you don’t have time to bake, purchase them from your local zero-waste stores or bakeries with containers to pack away loose treats.
  • Help keep our natural areas clean. Recycle, compost, or dispose of any waste you produce while outdoors. If no receptacles are available on the trail, pack it out with you.
  • Did you know not all soaps are created equal? Find out which soaps are the least harmful for environmental release and learn best cleaning and hygiene practices while camping.
  • Pack reusable dishes and cutlery instead of plastic.
  • Purchase quality, durable gear that will last for years. If you don’t camp very often, consider borrowing equipment from a friend or renting what you need from an equipment store.
  • A water filter system can eliminate the need to bring plastic bottles of water on your trip if camping nearby a natural body of water. A gravity filter is the easiest to use of the filtration systems on the market – just set it up and let gravity do the work. It can filter non-potable water from rivers or lakes into drinkable water on the spot!