Last year around this time, I wrote a post called Zero Waste Outdoor Activities with Kids, all about getting back to nature and simple old-fashioned summer fun. I focused on classic children’s activities like building bird houses, forts, and fairy houses, hiking, biking, and swimming, and I believe I even suggested you dust off your potato sacks and get in a race or two. While I stand by these zero waste activities and hope you read the post, I would also like to suggest some low waste swaps to replace some common summer toys, activities, and food. Here goes:
Skip the swing set and opt for the playground (or a ninja course) instead. A new swing set is comes with a carbon footprint you don’t need. Instead, pack a picnic and take your kids to one of New Hampshire’s hundreds of public playgrounds. Now that school is out of session, you can even go on a tour of the local school playgrounds. Or, if you’d like something in your own yard for the kids to play on, I highly suggest a ninja line. Not only is a ninja line much less resource intensive, but it can be adapted to be harder, easier, or just different as your kids grow and change.
Skip a backyard pool and opt for the real deal instead (or use what you have). Almost every town in New Hampshire has at least one pond, lake, river, or beach to visit and, if your town doesn’t, your neighboring town does. If you have small kids, skip the plastic kiddie pools and fill plastic storage bins with water instead. My toddler has a lot of fun transferring water among several containers and can sit in the biggest ones. Best part? I don’t have to store a giant pool all winter.
Skip the grocery store and head to the Farmer’s Market instead. Okay, I know, most people don’t consider grocery shopping “summer fun”, but the farmer’s market actually is fun, with all the local food and artisans, plus music and funny-looking dogs, so kill two proverbial birds with one stone (we don’t kill actual birds on this site) and do your shopping locally. Find your local farmer’s market here.
Skip the disposable water balloons and opt for reusable ones instead. My daughter can back from nature camp the other day claiming she had had a water balloon fight and I was shocked. Balloons are so bad for nature. But it turns out the camp was using reusable water balloons like these ones or these ones (sorry for the Amazon link… I tried to find them sold through another site, but couldn’t). While I haven’t personally tried them, she highly approved of the switch.
Skip the packaged snacks and opt for low waste snacks instead. Sun tea and homemade popsicles could not be easier to make (I blend apple juice and frozen raspberries with a bit of honey and call it a day most times). Tired of trying to find things to feed the kids sustainably, you can check out a big list of low wastes snacks here.
Skip the plane trip and opt for a staycation instead. I know, I know! Covid is over and you want to go somewhere. Anywhere! But hear me out. New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts are world-famous tourist destinations. Give your own state and our neighbors a chance. Pretend you’re visiting from elsewhere. See our beautiful region with new eyes. Rachel did a great post on family friendly hikes and Amtrak is offering a 50% off children’s discount and lots of fun New England travel packages, so head out on the rails this summer!
Skip the ice cream… no actually don’t skip the ice cream! New Hampshire magazine published a list of NH ice cream shops, noting which ones make their own ice cream and/or use New Hampshire dairy. My favorite ice cream experience in the Concord area is Beech Hill Farm (ice cream plus cute animals plus a giant sand box), but I would argue the award for the best tasting ice cream around goes to Granite State Candy Shoppe in downtown.
Wishing you a fun, AC free, local summer with the kids!