Sustainable Summer Essentials

July 14, 2020

Sustainable Summer Essentials

I love summer -the long days, the hot weather, the dips in cool water- but it's the season I struggled the most whenever planning my seasonal wardrobe. It took a long while (we're talking years!) before I found summer clothes that I felt comfortable wearing on those scorching hot days. I know so many of you struggle with the same issue; wanting to be cool and comfortable without always having to wear shorts and a tee - because that look isn't for everyone!

Making sustainable choices about what to wear when you're already struggling with being comfortable in the heat can be near impossible. So I've collated my sustainable summer essentials, from sun hats to sun lotion, to hopefully provide you with some options on where to shop and what to buy should you need to this summer.

As always: wear what you already have, look to purchase second-hand (both online and offline) whenever possible, and invest in the most sustainable option your budget can afford if you choose to buy new.


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Wearing trousers, even culottes, on a really hot day is too much effort for me to muster. For real comfort, there's nothing better than a loose-fitting dress. I lean heavily into the linen pieces within my wardrobe from the oversized Filosofia Chloe Dress (gifted)to a simple sleeveless maxi from Muji. I added a few other pieces, second-hand, new, and gifted. I treated myself to a Linen Fox Dress that would carry me through every season with a few tweaks to how it's styled, and a rather dramatic second-hand maxi dress, Everlane has a smock dress that's similar.

Other Options:
If dresses aren't your style, here are a few summery options. For days where trousers and shorts feel comfortable to wear, I reach for the Everlane Easy Chinos and Long Chino Shorts (both gifted) which fit perfectly and are comfortable to wear even in the heat. Other summer-appropriate options worth considering: maxi skirts (this linen option or this poplin choice), shorts (again, linen is the best option), or a smock dress (like this or this). With all of them I pair a breathable linen shirt (gifted), this one is made to order by Veryan and ordered through Wearth London. It's breathable with a loose fit and side vents, which is exactly what you need to help stay comfortable in the heat.



Sun Care

All year round this is important but especially so during summer. I can't stress this enough: wear sun protection; take care of your skin! Windows will not block most (90%) of UV light so even if you're indoors you'll need to protect yourself. I like Tropic's range of reef-safe sun care, which I have both purchased and been gifted over the last couple of years. I recommend the Tropic Skin Shade Sun Cream and Sun Day Facial UV Defence, neither are greasy and both absorb quickly. For extremities that have the tendency to get overlooked and burn more easily, the Sun Stick is useful for extra protection. For aftercare and soothing of burned or damaged skin, Tropic Sun Soothe is cooling and anti-inflammatory. If you struggle with dry skin like I do, especially after sun exposure, the Skin & Tonic Calm Balm (gifted) nourishes and repairs with it's blend of shea butter and essential oils. I apply this anywhere there's cracked or dry skin, massaging it in to soothe and restore.



Swimwear

Finding swimwear you're truly comfortable in is priceless. I have an swimsuit I've worn every year for the last 5 or so years; a plunging one-piece made from recycled fabric. It's an old ASOS purchase from when I still shopped there years ago. If you're looking for something similar I suggest the Samantha Sage Mauritius Swimsuit. I also have a You Swim High Waist Two-Piece (gifted) and it's a delight to wear. Adjustable with lots of coverage, I've never felt so comfortable in a bikini. There's also a one-piece if you'd prefer, and if you're looking for something more colourful, try Batoko.



Sun Hat

Essential for keeping the sun out of your eyes and a little shade on your shoulders; sun hats are a useful accessory for your summer wardrobe. I found both my sun hats in charity shops. I found a huge floppy brimmed sunhat, like this £125 sustainably-made garden hat, for only £1 and the other, a classic boater similar to this straw hat, for only £3.50. If you're worried about bugs or other nasties, disinfecting second-hand hats is pretty straightforward. Spray all over with spray disinfectant, seal in a plastic bag and, if possible, freeze. It'll kill of anything rather quickly. If you want to buy a sustainable sunhat new, Reve En Vert have a few, if expensive, options, as does Sarah J Curtis. Lucy & Yak have affordable bucket hats if that's more your style.



Sustainable Summer Essentials


Sunglasses

I've had the same pair of sunglasses that have, rather surprisingly, managed to make it through several summers of getting bashed about in travel luggage and thrown down on sun loungers. They are very similar to the Pendo Black sunglasses from Pala Eyewear. All their frames are made from biodegradable, plant-based acetate with UVA/UVB protection, polarised anti-glare and anti-scratch lenses. I now have a back-up pair for when mine inevitably break - the Pendo Sunset sunglasses (gifted) with a vintage yet modern two-tone cream and brown design. You can have your prescription lenses put into these frames or switch to contacts on sunny days. More information on that here.



Summer Bag

In all honesty, I tend to forgo bags altogether but with all the extra accessories that summer requires (sunglasses, hat, beach towel, sunscreen...) my usual habit of stuffing my pockets just won't cut it; a bigger than usual bag is required. I was gifted this beautiful jute bag from Ellyla (gifted) - a small business making ethical and eco-friendly accessories so local to me that they hand delivered! This is a classic summer bag, sustainably-made from natural plant fibres. It can fit everything needed for a trip to the beach but can also handle carrying the weekly food shop home. Smaller and larger sizes are available too, all at affordable prices.



Sandals

For the majority of summer I live in a pair of old Bikenstock sandals. They're practical and comfortable despite being ugly-chic. Teva are also worth investing in if you need a pair of reliable sandals for summer activities. Neither are fantastic options for more sophisticated summer looks. Nude recently launched a pair of vegan-friendly, sustainable sandals (gifted). For people like me who hate heels but like nice footwear, these are perfect. They're platforms, not heels, which means they're super comfortable and easy to wear plus they're absolutely stunning. Available in 5 colours (I chose black but I was tempted by sesame) and 7 sizes. Made from bio-vegan leather and responsibly sourced wood, these are sustainable as you can get when buying new shoes.



Water Bottle

A water bottle is absolutely essential wherever I go, whether it's summer or not. Favourites include: Elephant Box, Kambukka, Thermos, Klean Kanteen, S'Well, and Hydro Flask. It's worth looking in charity shops and online for second-hand options. With so many reusable bottles being gifted, many unused and unwanted bottles end up being donated or sold.



Lunchbox

No need for anything fancy just use whatever you've got, from plastic tubs to glass jars. If you take trips regularly or like to picnic often, purchasing something more appropriate for your needs might be worthwhile. I have an Elephant Box Lunchbox (gifted) I've been using for a couple of years now to pack lunches for road trips. It's large enough for two people and can be used as storage to divide up sandwich tins or salad boxes and snack pots. Dressings, toppings, and other ingredients are prepped and packaged into reused pots and jars. No need for special travel cutlery either, simply borrow cutlery and napkins from your kitchen.



Picnic Blankets and Beach Towels

I tend to grab whatever is at home and big enough for everyone to sit on - a bath towel, a bed throw, a linen sheet. If you're on the hunt for a picnic blanket or beach towel, I don't doubt you'll find plenty in the charity shops. A quick wash and they'll be ready to use, as good as new. If you really must buy one new, opt for something that's multi-purpose; a bath sheet can double as a beach towel, a bed thrown can double as a picnic blanket. A cotton throw would look beautiful whether laid out underneath a picnic or folder over the end of a bed. Same goes for a patterned bath sheet - just imagine it spread out over your sun lounger, no one would ever know it was stolen from your bathroom!




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