summertime gone green

The heat of summer has set in, so now we have the choice of simply surviving it, or making the best of it. This week, I'm taking a look at some eco-friendly products that help to do both! To catch up on some summertime conversation tips, head this way

Insect repellents are necessary to summertime survival, but unfortunately many conventional repellents contain DEET, a chemical that can irritate skin and has caused seizures in children and adults. Be sure to choose only repellents that don't contain DEET for your and your children's safety. Wellness Mama has recipes for making your own bug spray, using mainly essential oils. I haven't tried doing any of these, but my curiosity has been piqued! The Daily Green also features DIY recipes, natural products, and other eco-friendly ways to avoid bugs – such as wearing long pants, a hat or scarf. (The key is to finding long pants that don't make you feel like you are being smothered!)

You can also turn to candles to help you block bugs while you're enjoying an afternoon or evening outside. Citronella oil is an essential oil that has been classified as a nontoxic plant-based insect repellent in the United States since 1948. Look for Citronella candles made from eco-friendly wax, such as the selection at Buy Green, and enjoy your outdoor barbecue!

Don't forget to outfit your home's windows with light- and heat-blocking curtains. This will save you from misery and extra energy costs.

When you go outside, always be sure to put on sunscreen. This is something my parents have always told me, and something I may not have always listened to. But as I grow older, I know that when I spend time in the sun, I don't want to feel like I am baking, so I slather on the sunscreen. I've also recently committed to using a BB cream with sunscreen in it, and I feel so much better about going outside every day. And there are natural alternatives to sunscreen, but I cannot personally vouch for how well these work. 

Tropical Seas offers eco-friendly sunscreens and other sun-care products in biodegradable packaging. Their goal is to create products that are also nontoxic to sea life, which is a nice thought to the fact that their packages just might end up in the ocean among the sea life. They also do not test on animals and do not use animal byproducts. The Honest Co. has a chemical-free, vegetarian sunscreen, and Abe's Market has an organic sunblock.

Now, for the fun stuff!

A fun project to do with your children (or by yourself, because we are all just overgrown children anyway!) is to make bird feeders out of materials lying around the house. Bonus fun, this also provides entertainment for kitties sitting in the window, as it gives them endless birdies to watch during the day!

Earth911 shows how to make seven different recycled bird feeders, from materials such as milk cartons to Coke bottles to even floppy disks! I smell an eco cajun project happening soon.

If you have a garden, consider making eco-friendly plant markers. Buzzfeed and Apartment Therapy each have lots of different ideas for using materials you already have lying around.

Decorating your outdoor space will make you want to spend more time out there! And decorating it with eco-friendly items will make you feel good about spending time there.

Add color to your space with a recycled outdoor rug, such as the ones from Outdoor Rugs Only. Since they are made from recycled plastic, they are durable enough for outdoor use.

You can also look for recycled rubber welcome mats, such as the lovely owl mat I found last year (featured above). Check out last summer's post about eco-friendly patio furnishings.

Another bit of decorating fun comes from adding recycled accessories, such as solar-powered string lights and other garden features. These solar-powered lights are going through their fourth summer with me and are still working nicely.

This recycled metal hummingbird feeder was something I chose as a birthday gift for my best friend this year, and her husband gave her this solar-powered lantern, both from Uncommon Goods.

And the last big part of decorating your outdoor space is the furniture. Look for pieces made of recycled plastic or rubber. Furniture made of recycled milk jugs is popular and sturdy, such as the chairs below from Polywood

Some other recycled outdoor furniture vendors include By the Yard, Loll Designs, West Elm, Crate and Barrel and Breezesta.

And get creative! Reuse items that you already have in a new way. Use an old colander as a planter. Use a large old bucket upside down as a small patio table. Use pallets in all kinds of ways. The possibilities are endless!

What's your favorite eco-friendly summer solution?

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