Independence Day is a family favorite holiday filled with food, fireworks, and fun. Unfortunately, though, with all the picnics, parades, and barbecues, the festivities can take a toll on the planet. Below are five simple and green tips for an Earth-friendly celebration this 4th of July.
Don’t Buy Fireworks
For many families, the 4th of July is all about the fireworks, and many families look forward to stocking up on all their favorites to launch (safely) after dark. Fireworks are often made with plastic and cardboard, which are both pretty devastating for the planet unless you can find an eco-friendly fireworks brand, and these are few and far between. Rather than buying your own fireworks, consider going to your city’s show, instead. Most cities – even some very small towns – have their own fireworks displays. It’s fantastic for interacting with your community, and it prevents excessive waste, too.
Choose Your Food Wisely
If you’re planning to host a barbecue for your friends, family, or neighborhood, be mindful of the food you choose. Rather than visiting your local big-name market and buying plastic-wrapped produce shipped in from across the country, head to your local farmer’s market and buy locally-grown produce, instead. If you can’t do without certain snack items, don’t fret; rather than buying individual snack-size servings of things like chips or candy, buy the bigger packs. There’s less waste in both the production and the disposal.
Use The Decor You Already Have
It can be tempting to go buy paper streamers, sparkling lights, plastic pinwheels, noisemakers, and more. All of these decorations and party favors are terrible for the planet, though. The paper probably doesn’t come from a renewable source, and the plastic probably can’t be recycled. Instead, use what you already have to make your gathering festive. Clear Christmas lights can set the ambiance; a bowl of white grapes, red strawberries, and ripe blueberries can give you that patriotic look without all the waste, too.
Get Your Guests Involved
Instead of buying paper (or worse, styrofoam!) plates for your 4th of July barbecue, ask your guests to bring all the dishware they will need for themselves and their children from home. This alone will save a significant amount of waste, and it will save you money, too! If this isn’t an option and you really need to provide the dishes, flatware, and napkins, look for compostable options made with sustainable materials.
Spread the Word
If we are really going to make a difference for the planet, we have to get more people to shift away from plastic and non-renewable paper. Your 4th of July festivities are the perfect way to spread the word! For example, you might announce to your guests that your barbecue is 100% plastic-free, or you might even do something as simple as handing out bamboo interdental brush picks after the food has been served to remind people of the importance of making small swaps in their everyday lives.
The 4th of July is a time for Americans to celebrate their independence, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of the planet. Making wise decisions about your food, decor, and even the fireworks you enjoy can help you reduce your impact on the environment without sacrificing your fun.