This story is part of Earth911’s “Green Eight” series, where we showcase eight ways to green your life in various areas.
The Fourth of July is arguably summer’s most popular and celebrated holiday. And, like most occasions, you can take steps to make sure you and your fellow party goers remember to keep Mother Nature in mind while you celebrate.
So, whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or traveling to see your local fireworks show, remember some of these helpful tips to stay green this 4th of July.
1. Pass on Plastic Party Ware
They’re popular and easy: Plastic, ready-to-go plates, cups and utensils are convenient for parties with a lot of guests. The down side, they’re not so convenient for the environment.
To avoid this, do your best to use normal tableware that can just be washed and reused. If you must go the disposable route, clean them up (they’re often washable) and use them at your next big gathering.
Also, make sure to recycle your plastics when they’re not usable anymore. Check the resin number (#1-#7) to see if it's accepted by your curbside recycling program. If not, check out our recycling search for drop-off locations near you. Be aware, if paper plates are more your style, they will have to be thrown out or composted due to food residue.
2. Take the Celebration Outdoors
Even though temperatures might be soaring, most Fourth of July parties don’t get exciting until the evening. So, take advantage of the cooler evening weather and throw your party outdoors. It’s a great way to enjoy nature and reduce the energy costs of using indoor facilities.
3. Green Your Menu
For barbecue lovers, there’s nothing better (or more traditional) than grilled food on the Fourth of July. But, instead of heading to your traditional meat and veggie aisles, consider using locally grown organic food this holiday.
It might surprise you, but nearly everything on your menu can be replaced with its organic cousin. It’s a great way to introduce family and friends to delicious organic foods while helping the environment by reducing chemicals used in processed foods and the transportation costs that usually come with shipping non-local food products.
4. Save (and Reuse) Your Decorations
If you’ve hosted Independence Day celebrations before, you know the décor is often the same: streamers, party favors and table toppers all in bold red, white and blue. Sadly, most people often use these decorations once and then throw them out. But they can be reused year after year! So, this year, after the party's over, take the time to store and save your decorations. You or someone you know can use them again next year, which helps to save on a bit of unneeded trash.
5. Eco-Friendly Fireworks
Fireworks are hardly an environmentally friendly activity, but they’re an unwavering Fourth of July tradition. If you’re setting off your own fireworks this year, be sure to use fireworks rich in nitrogen. They often cost a bit more but put out less smoke into the environment.
Another option is to gather your group and go see your local fireworks display. It’s a great way to see a much bigger fireworks show and negates you from harming the environment with your own personal display.
6. Barbecue with Propane
To help reduce your grill’s carbon footprint this Independence Day, make sure to grill with propane – it burns the cleanest, which causes less smoke. It can also help to keep a fire going longer, which is obviously a classic grilling goal.
To be even more earth friendly with your grilling, make sure to recycle your propane tanks once it’s empty.
7. Gather in Large Groups
This may seem like a no-brainer for such a popular holiday, but the larger a group you gather (preferably outdoors), the less energy you use at individual parties that may take place indoors. Plus, the more people to help prepare and purchase food, the less of a cost it is to each individual. Just make sure your fellow party goers know these green tips!
8. Use Large Water Containers
Plastic water bottles are convenient, but like other disposable goods, they can add up fast. In lieu of individual plastic bottles, store water for your family or guests in large containers so they can re-fill their reusable water bottles or reusable cups. If you must use plastic water bottles, be sure to encourage your guests to recycle them.