When you live in a climate that is frozen for half of the yaar, you tend to take advantage of every minute of summer. In Wisconsin (USA), the weather can be very unpredictable, but we make the most of it by gathering with our friends and families, barbecuing, hosting pool parties, hiking in our beautiful parks and spending as much time outside as we can.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the seasons, you can choose to make it more sustainable. Here are a few tips to help you plan your next gathering:

  1. Create a fun environment by getting creative with your decorating. What do you already have in your home that you can temporarily bring outside to add to the party? Consider plants and mixing and matching colorful bowls and plates. If you do need to buy decorations, shop first for upcycled items at local thrift stores.
  2. If you’re hosting a small gathering, supply water and other beverages in glass pitchers instead of offering plastic bottles. Also, use reusable plates, cups and silverware whenever possible. Reducing the use of single-use, throwaway items like plastic cups and silverware is a great example of how small, sustainable choices can make a big impact.
  3. Whether hosting or attending a party, buy local when shopping for groceries. Summer is the perfect time to visit your community farmer markets and pick up a variety of locally-grown foods. Options are normally fresher than what you’d get at a supermarket and buying local reduces the carbon footprint (from delivery methods). Plus, the varieties of vegetables will make for a colorful and delicious summer salad all your guests will love. (Here are a few reasons why buying local is smart.)
    My market also supplies farm-fresh eggs, breads, as well as meats and cheeses. These items aren’t always on display, so don’t be shy about talking to the farmers about what other offerings they might be able to supply for your table.
    Are you vegan? Check out these vegan barbecue ideas.
  4. Suggest a local activity that gets everyone outside to enjoy the weather. Bike, kayak or fly a kite. My family takes full advantage of the beautiful state parks in the area. The trails allow us to get outside and connect with nature. Many parks also provide shelters that can be rented if you want to relocate your gathering to the beautiful forest. Just make sure you pack out what you brought in. Leave no trace.

There are countless ways to enjoy these warmer months while also minimizing our impact on the environment. Please share your suggestions in the comments below.

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