ByMolly Smith

May 21, 2015

Celebrating Memorial Day often means hosting or attending a picnic or heading out of town. But what if you want to avoid the wasteful single-use plastic plates, cups, and utensils, or skip the carbon emissions associated with air travel? Your Memorial Day Weekend can still be a blast without causing too much of a negative impact on the planet.

Be kind to Mother Earth over this holiday weekend with these inspirational ideas — red, white, blue, and green!

Play ‘Tourist’ in Your Own Town

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Image courtesy of FaceMePLS.

Instead of traveling this three-day holiday weekend, why not take advantage of the great sights in your own town? Take local transit, walk, or bike to your city’s history, art, or children’s museum. Or visit the zoo. Pack a lunch in reusable containers so you can save money while also not having to rely on excess waste resulting from a stop at a restaurant or a drive-thru.

Make a Soldier’s or a Veteran’s Day

Memorial Day is about honoring those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom … but what about the veterans and active military personnel who are still alive today? Why not bring fresh fruit/produce baskets to your local VA hospital or research how you can mail homemade thank you cards (using materials you already have around the house) to military personnel serving overseas.

Host a ‘Green’ Block Party

Get your family, friends, and neighbors together for an old-fashioned cookout with a new (and green) twist. Ask that all guests bring items in reusable containers, and use real plates and utensils — no plastic or paper waste, regardless of how cute those red, white, and blue party plates look! Get your (paperless) invitations out in advance and ask guests to bring either a meatless dish or one with sustainable ingredients (don’t forget the wine and spirits). Bonus points if the dish uses ingredients from a local farmer or purveyor.

Also, limit or completely eliminate decorations that will surely go into the trash after the bash and instead put your “decorating” efforts into a red, white, and blue costume theme. Ask guests to wear red, white, and blue (or any combination of the three!) and organize a children’s red, white, and blue costume parade challenge. The catch? Guests and parade entrants can only use items from their existing wardrobes or a secondhand store. Create a prize for the most creative child’s costume.

family bike ride
Take an early morning hike or bike ride before the weather gets too warm. Image courtesy of Nathan Rupert.

Plant your summer garden

Though summer doesn’t officially begin for another month after Memorial Day weekend, use your three-day holiday to get a jump-start on your hot-weather planting. Visit a nursery, do your research at the library or online, or spend some time preparing your existing garden or creating a new garden for the upcoming season.

Honor nature

Be sure to take some time out of your busy celebratory weekend to celebrate Mother Nature, too. Take an early morning hike or bike ride before the weather gets too warm. Or take the kids to a local park at dusk to enjoy the outdoors instead of spending time on their tablets. Regardless of what your Memorial Day weekend plans encompass, don’t forget to be kind to our Earth!

Feature image courtesy of US Air Force

By Molly Smith

Molly Cerreta Smith has been writing as a passion for as long as she could hold a pen and professionally for more than 15 years. Molly has hundreds of local and nationally published articles under her belt on topics including health and fitness, pregnancy and motherhood, food and dining, businesspeople, pets, travel, green living and love. When she’s not putting pen to paper, she loves reading, baking, sweating it out on a hiking trail or in a Zumba class, and engaging in “game nights” with her husband and their two kids.