Tips for your sustainable and healthy outdoor adventures

Picture of Pamela TourignyThis blog post has been written by Pamela Tourigny, Community Manager at terra20. Pamela Tourigny manages communications and community outreach for terra20, Canada’s retail destination for healthier, more sustainable consumer products. She is among Nature Canada’s Women For Nature.  Pamela also blogs about mindful living at

At last, long-awaited summer weather has arrived, and nature lovers are reveling in the bounty of our great outdoors.

Whether your time spent in nature will be on a bike, in a canoe, or on foot, we can benefit our health – and the health of our planet –with some advance preparation. Here are a few tips for a healthy and happy summer experience.

Use safer sunscreens.  Traditional sunscreens use chemicals that absorb UV light to prevent burning. Unlike physical sunscreens, they can be absorbed into the skin — and that’s where the question of safety is raised.  Common ingredients oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate are known to cause skin irritation and photosensitivity.  Many conventional sunscreens also contain ingredients like parabens, which some scientists believe may be connected to some types of cancer with long-term exposure.

The Canadian Dermatology Association advises Canadians to opt for at least SPF 30. Sunscreens without broad spectrum protection or sunscreens with an SPF value of less than 15 must warn that they only help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging. Especially if you have sensitive skin, opt for sunscreens made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which provide a physical barrier against the sun.

Photo of terra20 and Nature Canada productsBug off!  Many of us have experienced the bitter taste of insect spray that has wafted into our mouths during spraying. Citing human health reasons, Health Canada barred the sale of insect repellents for human use containing more than 30% DEET in a 2002 re-evaluation, and also placed recommended restrictions on the concentration (10%) and frequency that insect spray should be applied to children.

So what are the alternatives? If you’re looking for a non-toxic alternative for yourself or your children, consider an outdoor spray that includes insect repelling essential oils, such as citronella, lemongrass or rosemary, or the Health Canada-approved Insect Defend Patch.

Stay Hydrated and Re-Energized!  As we move into warm weather, you will need more fluids to stay hydrated in hot weather and when you are physically active. For events lasting less than one hour, water is generally sufficient. For activities lasting longer than 60 minutes and/or taking place in hot, humid weather, hydration drinks can help to replace energy stores and fluid/electrolyte losses.

For longer outdoor adventures, a stainless steel S’Well bottle keeps beverages cool for more than 24 hours or hot for more than 12 hours, while also reducing single-use bottle waste. You should also bring fruit, vegetables or other snacks to re-energize yourself along the way, and you can ensure you’re reducing your trash footprint by taking your snacks in reusable snack bags and containers.

Nature Canada supporters are eligible for a discount on all products at terra20 through the Saving For Change program, which also donates 2% of Nature Canada supporter sales to Nature Canada. Sign up here.