Happy first day of summer! Here in South Jersey, it’s also the first super hot day we’ve had this season. The temperature will reach the high 90s today, and it’s expected to reach 100 degrees tomorrow. I am fortunate that my family is able to join the pool in town, and we spend a lot of time there in the summer. Two years ago, the pool installed WiFi, and I can lug along my laptop, camp out at a table and work while my boys enjoy the days with their friends.


Joining the community pool is more sustainable than having our own pool in the backyard. It’s a heck of a lot less work, too. There are ways to make our fun in the sun even more sustainable with a little planning and consideration.

  1. Walk or bike to and from the pool if it’s possible. Throw your pool gear in backpacks or get a basket for your bike and leave the car at home. If you have a lot of stuff, you could throw it all in a wagon (which of course the kids will insist on riding home in).
  2. Take your own food and beverages. Most pools have a snack bar or grill. The food comes on paper plates and the beverages come in throw-away cups. And let’s face it — it’s not the healthiest food you’re getting from the snack bar, is it? If you plan ahead and take your own food and beverages along with durable plates, utensils and cups, you’ll save a lot of paper products and calories.

    (To be fair and respectful to our pool’s grill, they offer some great healthy options. It’s a full-blown Italian grill, and we can get all sorts of veggie pizzas, salads and fruit. They offer a healthy entrée most nights as a special, too. But, from talking with others, I've found that our pool is the exception, not the rule. I still bring a lot of our own food to save money, but we usually do Friday night dinner from the pool’s grill.)
  3. Only buy new bathing suits, goggles and beach towels if necessary. Just because it’s a new pool season doesn’t mean you need all new gear to go with it. If last year’s stuff is still usable, use it. The boys each got new suits this year, and we finally graduated them from Disney character towels to plain towels. But my poor almost teenager had been carrying an “Incredibles” towel far longer than he ever wanted to.
  4. Encourage recycling. Our pool has recycling containers, and I’ve been known to stop a kid who has been ready to throw a bottle in the trash and redirect him to the recycling can right next to it. If your pool recycles, make sure you encourage those around you to take advantage of it. If it does not, talk to management about starting a recycling program.
  5. Keep the kids out of the showers when they aren’t actually showering. My boys used to go missing during the “adult swim” time at our pool. Turns out they had been in the men’s room standing under the hot shower to keep warm while they weren’t allowed in the pool. I came to find out that many of the kids at the pool do this. It’s a huge waste of water.

Can you think of any other tips for being sustainable at the public pool?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Green your public pool membership
Belonging to a public pool that's used by many is more sustainable than having a pool in your backyard that's used by few, but there are other things you can do