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Give us the 'Green' of Summer: Part II

With apologies to Paul Simon: Give us those nice bright colors, give us the greens of summers, make us think all the world's a sunny day.

Last week I brought you the in my two-part series on being a little "greener" this summer. Here is part two for your enjoyment!

Speaking of ice, save water by freezing – and refreezing again and again – plastic ice packs. Just make sure the gel inside is labeled non-toxic, or freeze a cardboard juice box or two to replace your ice-cubes.

Also, be sure to use a hard-plastic ice cooler instead of disposable Styrofoam choices. boasts more than 35 types of coolers to choose from, including convenient rolling coolers.

Naturally highlight your hair: I admit this reluctantly, but I’ve spent many a day at the beach with pits in my hair – pits from squeezing lemons on my head to achieve natural sun-bleaching.

This actually works – on non-color-treated hair, of course – and the pits come out in the surf! Where to buy? Again, try or

Look inside your sunscreen: Many popular sunscreens contain harmful ingredients. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), these include potential hormone-disrupting compounds such as oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin.

Also, avoid Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate). Government studies show that tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with vitamin A-laced creams.

Instead of sprays, choose creams, and opt for those labeled broad-spectrum and water-resistant, since their ingredients tend to deteriorate less easily in the sun.

Although these compounds may not sound any better than those just mentioned, they actually are, according to the EWG. Look for titanium dioxide, avobenzone or mexoryl SX. These stay on the skin’s surface where you need it.

For more pointers, including more about ingredients and brands, visit the EWG site for its sunscreen guide

Bug off: Have a nasty green fly or mosquito buzzing around while at the beach or in your backyard? Try telling it to bug off the natural way.

Although most insect repellents on the market – including those containing the very effective chemical DEET – have been labeled "safe" by the Environmental Protection Agency, the alternative, Icaridin, has been reported to be as effective without the irritation associated with DEET, according to the World Health Organization.

Still, neither would be considered a natural insect repellent. Some alternatives include citronella, peppermint oil, soy-based products, and lemon eucalyptus oil.

For more about natural mosquito repellents, particularly in light of recent West Nile virus issues, see the column “Natural Mosquito Repellents" for example.

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