Green goes great with red, white, and blue! So this 4th of July don’t just celebrate America- celebrate the Earth by throwing an eco friendly bash. From ozone destroying fireworks displays to tons of paper plates tossed into the trash, Independence Day is one of the most planet-damaging days of the year. But there are little things you can do to change this environmental impact.
Whether it’s a backyard barbecue, a block party, or a shindig on the beach, you can do your part to keep America the Beautiful beautiful by swapping out a few conventional holiday traditions with some more earth conscious ones. Fight for your freedom to go green with these 10 easy tips for celebrating Independence Day:
1. Freedom From Disposable Partyware
Our founding fathers would be appalled by all the things we throw away today. Do our ancestors honor by saying no to disposable partyware. Here are some earth conscious options:
- Use your everyday dinner and serving ware and wash it up afterwards.
- Opt for biodegradable or compostable paper plates, cups and cutlery like those found at Green Paper Products.
- Use paper or bamboo straws like these fun straws found in our Eco Shop.
- A cute bamboo cutlery set can double as an eco smart favor!
2. Take The Party Outside
This seems like a given on the 4th when the weather is warm and everybody wants to be near the grill or swimming pool. Hosting an outdoor get together will reduce energy usage. If the party stretches into the night, opt for candle light instead of electric.
Sun and bugs are two unavoidable factors when it comes to the outdoors. Remember to use eco friendly products to protect your skin like DEET-free insect repellent and non-toxic sunscreen. Here’s one that does both!
3. Celebrate Close To Home
Keep it eco friendly this holiday by celebrating close to your own little corner of America. Tourism counts for eight percent of global carbon emissions, and that number is at an all time high. Hotel stays, transportation, and dining out all take a toll on the environment, not to mention the environmental costs of getting to those faraway destinations (this means you, air travel!).
Avoiding travel around the holidays can greatly reduce carbon emissions. Take advantage of your own unique locale and throw a block party in your own neighborhood. Is there a beach, park, or public pool nearby? Instead of driving, why not walk, bicycle or take public transportation?
4. Don’t Toss The Decor
How easy is it to just ball up and throw away those red, white, and blue streamers, plastic tablecloths, and paper table toppers? Before you answer that, answer this question: how easy was it for George Washiongton to cross the Delaware?
Exactly. Doing what’s right isn’t always easy. This year think about what a service you’re doing to your planet while you’re packing up those decorations for reuse next year. Or skip the decorations altogether and adorn tables with beautiful seasonal flowers.
5. Enjoy A Greener Fireworks Display
Did you know that the US experiences the highest yearly amount of particulate matter air pollution on the 4th of July (NOAA)? Fireworks get their brilliant colors from heavy metals and toxic chemicals. The residue from fireworks gets into our groundwater, while the debris ultimately makes its way out to the ocean.
But many believe that a 4th of July without fireworks would just be, well, unAmerican. If you can’t live without those dazzling bursts, try to keep your display on the green side:
- Look for eco friendly, nitrogen-rich fireworks that produce less environment-harming smoke.
- Take your party to see the local fireworks display rather than shooting off your own.
- For backyard displays, light off all fireworks in the same spot. Douse them in water immediately afterward to prevent forest fires.
- Make sure to clean up all the debris after displaying fireworks at home. Unfortunately, it can’t be composted but should be taken to the landfill.
6. No Bottles And Cans Allowed
Fourth of July barbecues go hand in hand with bottles and cans. Beer, soda, water, wine. Generally, people at parties will consume two drinks in the first hour and one an hour after that. Multiply that by the number of guests and you’ve got a mountain of cans to think about!
Avoid all that disposable waste by switching to large beverage containers instead of six-packs.
- Fill beverage dispensers with ice water to keep guests hydrated instead of single-use water bottles.
- Make large batches of punch, lemonade, and tea.
- Order a keg instead of buying cases of beer.
- Have guests write their names on biodegradable cups, supply drink tags, or have them bring their drinking receptacle of choice from home.
7. Choose Propane Over Charcoal
Some dedicated grillers may find this idea blasphemous, but studies have found that those smoky briquettes can be harmful to the environment. Charcoal smoke can contribute to air pollution and the release of greenhouse gasses into the environment. In fact, charcoal produces nearly three times the carbon emissions per BTU of natural gas.
If you are the type of die-hard charcoal fanatic who cringes at the mention of propane, consider opting for a cleaner burning variety of charcoal without coal, sodium nitrate, or petroleum. Otherwise, pick up a canister of propane.
8. Relish A Vegan Barbecue
We wouldn’t dream of asking you to step away from the grill this Independence Day. But you can reduce your ecological footprint by swapping out those quintessential burgers and dogs for a meat-free option. Exceedingly Vegan offers some mouth watering 4th of July recipes.
For those dedicated carnivorous, look for organic, sustainably raised beef products. And for all those delicious side salads, take advantage of locally grown and pesticide-free fruits and veggies from your community farmers market.
9. Remember The Three R’s
Just because you’re off work today, doesn’t mean you can take a break from practicing the recycle, reduce, reuse rules. Do your part and make sure that all recyclable waste makes its way to the proper bin. Set out clearly marked paper, plastic, and metal containers for your guests to use. And don’t forget your about compost bin!
10. Celebrate July 5th
If you live near the coast, hit the beach on the 5th with a couple of trash bags and a litter pick up stick. Sadly, 4th of July celebrations bring out hordes of eco-ignorant partygoers who leave every manner of debris on the beach after the celebration is over. Spent fireworks, empty bottles and cans, and food waste can find its way into the ocean.
Don’t live near the beach? Visit a public park instead. Enjoy some sun and fresh air while helping to keep our environment clean. What better way to say “thank you” to our beautiful country?
As the mother of four children, including a set of triplets, it is important to me that my family all honor the earth, giving back and preserving the health of our oceans by making small changes in everyday life. Since beginning Ocean Junkies, my entire family has a new conscious awareness of using plastic straws and utensils in restaurants and how it’s related to the trash we see on the beach. It is my hope that through Ocean Junkies and other wonderful activist websites, we can raise awareness about plastic pollution and increase sustainable living by re-using what we have already created and creating from biodegradable and compostable materials.
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