Summer Heat: Your guide to Eco-sunscreen, BBQs, Swimwear & More

On our recent Q&A episode we wanted to answer many of your burning questions on how to have sustainable summers. When its super hot sometimes the last thing you think of is what components are in your sunscreen, or how your BBQs can be more environmentally friendly. As these are all summer essentials we wanted to do some research on how to make these switches a bit easier.

From all of your questions the top three summer ones that kept coming up were 1) Sun-screen 2)BBQs 3)Swim-wear. To be perfectly honest we didn’t have half of these answers, but from reading some reviews, and asking lots of you- here are some of our solutions for each of our top three topics:

1) Sun-screen

First with sunscreen, before diving into our favourite products we wanted to understand what the issue was in the first place. What is ‘wrong’ with the conventional brands that are causing an issue. From a stat by the National Park Service, 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter coral reefs every year.  As you put sunscreen on your body, we didn’t imagine that it would be so harmful to the coral reefs. In fact we are now seeing that Hawaii is the first state in the US from Jan 2021 to put a stop to this by banning the sale of sunscreen that contains oxybenzone and octinoxate. The issue with these chemicals is that it bleaches the coral reef, meaning the reef goes under stress and leads to it dying.

Moral of the story, avoid sunscreens with petroleum, titanium dioxide, oxybenzone and octinoxate because they are harmful to sea life. Lastly many sunscreens aren’t ‘vegan’ so another thing to watch out for is cruelty free sunscreen that don’t test on animals.

Switch Picks

  • Aethic Sôvée Triple-Filter Ecocompatible Sunscreen SPF 40 (The pricer one out of the batch, so maybe not ideal if you use lots of sunscreen)

  • For half the price and also a fan favourite there is Organii Sun milk- also recommended for kids of people with sensitive skin.

  • Ren Clean Skincare - a brand which uses all natural materials, is vegan, and packaging is recycled and recyclable.

2) BBQ’s

We had many questions on BBQ’s, what was more sustainable charcoal vs. coal; what are the best things to put on the bbq, or how to have more eco parties.

From doing research we found that charcoal was less sustainable than a electric/gas bbq. Reason being is that electric/gas bbqs release less gas and soot overtime; however if using a charcoal bbq use lump coal over briquettes. Again a topic we didn’t know much about, but thanks to some of you and research- that was the most common answer.

However we would really discourage everyone from swopping bbq’s, if you do have a ‘less-than-eco’ one you can consider the other elements such as the prep, material and food you put on the bbq.

Switch Tips

  • Use a reusable bbq kit - rather than wrapping everything in tinfoil or using disposables get a solid tray and bbq utensils that can be used over and over again. 

  • If it is a grill you can turn off easily, switch it off in between cooking meals it doesn’t need to be on the whole time, especially as it takes no time for them to heat up. 

  • Make recycling easy for people.

  • Leftovers - get people to bring tupperware. 

  • Use normal plates and cutlery, washing dishes is a lot more sustainable than generating waste from either plastic or paper.

3) Swim-wear

There is so much to say on sustainable fashion, but really interesting to note how it applies to swim suits. Before running out to a shop and needing to switch for a more sustainable swimsuit, the best thing you can actually is trying to wear what you already have. Sustainable fashion, doesn’t always mean ditching what you have and buying new sustainable things, but actually re-purposing what you have or buying what has already been made (second hand). However interestingly enough with swim-wear and under-wear its pretty hard to buy second hand/ many people us included would choose not to. With that said there are so many sustainable brands now out there that are worth looking at.

Before we dive into our Switch Picks we wanted to understand more about the impact of swim-wear. Firstly when you think of swim-wear the fabrics are typically lycra, spandex, or some poly-blend. Also these fabrics need to withstand chlorine and being in water so they are heavily processed to ensure the die stays. We don’t just see an issue with materials containing plastics and dies but the highly manufactured process of it all. Sadly the problem doesn’t stop once you get the product, what we typically see is the micro-fibers and dies of these fabrics breaking down into our water systems which also isn’t great.

There are many cool brands out there, so look out for things such as recycled nylon ‘eco-nyl’, hemp, recycled plastics or even linens.

Switch Picks

  • Tide + Seek (recycled plastic)

  • Stay Wild

  • Gyko (Everything is made under one roof in London by a not-for-profit social enterprise that provides full-time training and day courses for anyone considering a fashion career. The packaging is plastic-free.)

  • Batoko (Based on the north-west coast, micro brand Batoko also makes swimwear out of recycled plastic waste. Collections are deliberately kept small to maintain quality and a slower, more planet-friendly pace, so there are just nine fun and colourful designs to choose from.)

Podcast Switch