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Originally published Friday, August 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

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Summer stuff that’s good for you, good for the planet

Flip-flops, sun protection, toys and, last but not least, a great recycled ball for playing fetch with the dog.


Special to The Seattle Times

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It’s summertime and you’re out enjoying nature. Don’t you want to do your best to help preserve that serene, natural beauty? Make sure your fun in the sun isn’t hurting your surroundings.

Save your skin

If you’re anything like me, an hour hopping in and out of the water on a sunny day leaves you resembling a cherry tomato. Keep your skin healthy; slather that sunscreen. But keep an eye out; not all types of sunblock are created equal.

Avoid petroleum-based products, which break down very slowly in the water you’re playing in. Instead, find mineral-based sunscreens with active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, such as products from Kiss My Face, Burt’s Bees and the Honest Company. The Environmental Working Group puts out a list every year of the best options both for your health and the environment. Check it out and see how yours measures up.

Feet first (well, second)

Once your skin is covered, take a look at your summer wear. Still wearing those cheap rubber flip-flops that do nothing good for your arches and won’t last more than a season before hitting the landfill?

Check out Proper Flops, a company created by a Port Angeles native. These sandals are designed to provide proper arch support and keep your feet healthy all summer long. They are vegan friendly, recyclable and made in the United States in a factory that touts its green manufacturing processes. And, hey, they’re not an eyesore or a bank breaker, either. A pair runs about $30 for both men and women, with a two-year guarantee.

OK, I’ll admit, Proper Flops, while practical, don’t fully fulfill my quest to be stylish. Where are the cute, colorful pairs? Good news. There’s another eco-friendly flip-flop option. North Carolina’s FeelGoodz are made from natural rubber in various colors and styles. This company is all about global ethics, paying their Thai and Vietnamese rubber farmers fair wages. The sandals run from about $25 to $50.

Play time

Yearning to make a sand castle? Or do you have some little ones who are? Green Toys has a set of beach toys made in the U.S. from recycled milk cartons. Keep some junk out of the landfill and avoid the new plastic toys. A set with a bucket, castle mold, rake and shovel costs $22 and comes in a few colors.

If sand castles aren’t your thing, the same company sells a green Frisbee also made with recycled milk cartons for $6. Green, clean fun.

Canine catch

Don’t leave Fido out of the mix! Those neon yellow tennis balls we love to throw for our furry friends are usually made neither from recycled materials nor biodegradable.

Planet Dog’s RecycleBALLS are made from Orbee-Tuff, a recycled material that would otherwise be discarded. Find them for about $13 and make fetch on the beach both fun and eco-friendly.

Paige Collins is a Seattle Times features producer.



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