Independence Day is a big holiday here in the USA, often celebrated outdoors, with delicious foods on the grill, big coolers full of beer, and American flags everywhere! It’s fun. But, a lot of 4th of July activities are terrible for the environment, especially when almost everyone in the country is participating in the festivities. Below are a few tips to help you reduce your footprint this weekend, and still have a blast!
Green Tips for the 4th of July
1. Biodegradable Kitchenware
Whether you will be partying indoors, on the deck, or at a beach, you probably don’t want a pile full of dishes to deal with after the festivities are over. It’s logical to opt for some plastic forks and knives. This year, however, I urge you to buy biodegradable forks, knives, cups, and plates. Don’t know where to begin? Vegware makes biodegradable cutlery, cups, and plates – all for reasonable prices. If you have a compost – or if there is a compost in your community (which you should definitely take advantage of) – I suggest Plantware Cutlery – these plates and utensils are compostable, stylish, and made in the USA.
2. Grilling Greener
You may not know this, but traditional charcoal grills produce twice as much carbon as gas grills. A more eco-friendly option for grilling is propane, because of its lower emissions and little waste – propane tanks can be returned and refilled. If you have your heart set on charcoal (mmm, nothing tastes better than charcoal-grilled steak), buy lump charcoal instead of briquettes, which can contain additives that are bad for your health and the environment.
3. Stock up at the Farmer’s Market
Eating organic and locally-sourced food is not only good for you, but it is great for pollution prevention! Fewer emissions are produced when food only has to travel a couple of miles from its source, instead of shaking in the back of an 18-wheeler across the entire country. Go to your local Farmer’s Market this week, and get all the veggies, fruits, meats, and sausages you need. Stop by the wine booth and pick up some organic local wine. Which brings me to my next point…
4. Green booze
I know you don’t want to hear this on 4th of July, but beer is the least eco-friendly type of alcohol because it goes through a rigorous heating-cooling process (which uses a lot of energy), produces a lot of water waste, uses agriculturally-intensive ingredients, and then usually travels great distances to reach retail shelves around the world. That doesn’t mean the party is ruined though. If you want beer, opt for cans, not glass bottles. Cans are lighter (therefore require less energy to transport) and are easier to recycle than glass is. Also, some beers are certified organic, which means, at the very least, that no harsh chemicals were used during the farming process, which is a great plus for the environment! If you are expecting a lot of people to come over, it may be a good idea to get a keg. The keg will leave zero waste behind and it’s a much more efficient way to get beer to your party.
Not a beer fan? There are more options for you to drink green! Square One Organic Vodka is very environmentally-friendly. Square One uses less water and goes as far as printing its labels on sustainably-grown fiber materials. Boxed wine is also a great way to reduce your footprint this year.
5. Ditch the private show
Sorry, no backyard fireworks this year. Fireworks, at least the ones you can buy at a store, are terrible for air quality. If everyone is setting them off in their backyards, we might end up like Beijing, where excessive use of fireworks last year resulted in hazardous levels of air pollution in a matter of hours. Instead, take a walk to your town park, or wherever the municipalities are displaying fireworks, and enjoy the view with other fellow Americans.
6. Eco-friendly décor
I love 4th of July for the decorations. Everything is beautifully-patriotic and red-white-and-blue. But like most decorations, Independence Day décor usually gets drunkenly thrown into the trash can, or worse – scattered around the ground until someone else picks it up and sends it to the landfill. There are many ways to make your celebration greener: buy recycled paper materials, recyclable materials, and compostable party supplies. They even have eco-friendly American flags made from recycled plastic. Even if you can’t get your hands on such things, make sure to reuse your decorations every year so that you are not contributing more garbage to the landfill. Another great idea is to use live potted flowers instead of fake ones for your centerpiece. That way, after the party, they will still serve a green purpose – turning carbon into oxygen.
That’s about it! Do you know some other great ways to be environmentally-conscious this holiday? Leave a reply in the comments!
And remember, if we want a greener world, if we want companies to be more responsible when it comes to the environment, then we (as consumers) must show our support and demand for greener products by choosing them over regular products as much as we can.