smiling little boy at family July 4th meal

The Fourth of July was one of my favorite holidays when I was a child. School was just out for summer and I could look forward to a holiday filled with a barbecue, corn on the cob, and Grandma’s amazing potato salad.

I remember Grandma whipping the mayonnaise with a little bit of corn oil and then adding a splash of red wine vinegar for flavor before adding the warm, cooked potatoes and some chopped onion.

At night, of course, there were the fireworks. By sundown, Dad made us all come in because he felt that it was too dangerous to be out. So, we had to watch the show from our windows. And there we sat in our pajamas listening to the booms and watching the lights in the sky.

These days, we know that grilling with charcoal spews pounds of carbon dioxide into the air. But we can still enjoy a Fourth of July cookout by grilling the food using gas or broiling it inside. Set up a festive table — using reusable tableware, of course — on the deck, balcony, or in the yard for an alfresco meal.

Even though I still find fireworks thrilling to watch, I know that they aren’t an eco-friendly entertainment. Fireworks pollute the air, soil, and waterways with “metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals, and smoke.” Maybe I could send a recommendation to local officials that we have an outdoor laser light show for next year … I think that it is definitely worth exploring!

Even if you live in a small apartment in the city, you can capture some of the magic of the holiday without creating a lot of waste. I’m going to dress for the day in red, white, and blue. And I’ll use my brother’s heavy pan to grill hot dogs and corn on the cob — it’s so rich and sweet this time of year! Of course, no summer celebration would be complete without Grandma’s potato salad.

When the sun goes down, I am going to park myself by the window like I did when I was little and enjoy the show!

Stay safe and have a happy Fourth of July!

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.