#AerieREAL Role Model Manuela Barón is @thegirlgonegreen, where she makes art out of trash and encourages people to take small steps that together, can make a big impact on the future of our environment.  Read on to hear Manuela’s own attainable, easy-to-follow tips for living more sustainably this summer:

Be a tourist in your hometown! According to the EPA, Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation account for about 29 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor of U.S. emissions. Vacationing while staying put is a great way to lower greenhouse gas emissions. You don’t have to fly or drive to take an awesome vacation! Especially while we’re spending time at home, it’s a great time to explore your own city. Rent a bike or take a self-guided street art tour. Order one takeout dish from different restaurants and have a picnic at the park! You can even wear your favorite summery outfit and take touristy photos. The options are endless, so get creative while you do good for our planet!

We are currently using a million plastic bottles per minute. Plastic bottles cannot be recycled. This means that they cannot be turned into another plastic bottle. If anything, plastic bottles are actually downcycled—meaning that they can be turned into something new, like a park bench. By using your own reusable bottle, you are reducing how many new bottles are consumed. Personalizing your bottle can help you remember to bring it along with you. Add some stickers or find a print that you love!

Have you ever jumped in the water and felt your sunscreen wash off? The chemicals in our sunscreens have been linked to causing harm to marine life and coral reefs. It’s estimated that 6,000 tons of sunscreen wash into coral reefs around the globe each year. Hawaii became the first U.S. state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing two common chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, which many researchers worldwide have deemed potentially harmful to aquatic life. Key West, FL soon followed with its own ban on products containing these ingredients.

Before diving into the ocean, a lake, or a river, it’s important to be conscious of what chemicals you are wearing on your skin. Look for “reef safe” and “reef-friendly” sunscreens without oxybenzone and octinoxate. There are more harmful chemicals being tested but this is a great place to start. Consider a rash guard, too! That way you can protect your skin and also use less sunscreen.

I carry a tote bag every. where. I. go. I fold it up into my purse, or use it as a handbag itself. The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year! These plastic bags end up in our waterways and forests, posing a threat to wildlife. By carrying your tote with you at all times, you’re always prepared for what you might need to carry with you on any adventure.

Now more than ever, the world needs you to CARE. We can wait for the systems to change or we can demand change ourselves. We can wake up and try our best! We can pick up trash when we see it in nature, write letters to our representatives, and work together to create a cleaner world. We all start somewhere, and it’s the small actions multiplied by many that have a ripple effect. This summer, take the time to learn about sustainability and experiment with ways to be more eco-friendly. This isn’t an overnight process—focus on one thing at a time.

It can be overwhelming to overhaul your entire life to be more sustainable! That’s why Manuela encourages us all to take any step—big or small—so that together, we can create a bright future for our world. Follow these tips and have your most sustainable summer YET! Share your own tips for taking care of our world with #AerieREAL @Aerie.

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