Party like it’s 1776 — well, with a few upgrades — and go green for your Fourth of July celebration this year. We’ve made it simple for you. Here are six sustainable swaps to follow this Independence Day.
1. Think Recyclable, Not Disposable
Fourth of July and picnics go hand in hand. Picnics are an excellent way to enjoy nature with loved ones — I mean, what’s not to love about food combined with nature’s beauty? Unfortunately, most picnic “essentials” actually aren’t good for the environment at all. So instead of buying paper plates and plastic sporks, look for recyclable or reusable alternatives. Check out this list of green products for your outdoor feast.
If you’re partaking in adult beverages, make sure your container is recyclable. Glass bottles and aluminum cans are both great options. Some plastic bottles are recyclable as well — just check for the recycling symbol before you buy. Either way, you’re helping the planet by keeping trash away from the landfill. Good work!
2. Green Your Grill
Before you prepare your Fourth of July meal, be sure you’re grilling with the right fuel. A majority of outdoor grills these days are either fueled by gas or charcoal, so which is better for the environment? That answer gets a little knotty, but scientists generally agree that gas is the big winner — electric grills are more difficult to get your hands on, but are even more efficient. Grills fueled by gas or electricity burn much cleaner than charcoal and therefore have a significantly smaller carbon footprint.
If you’re in the market for a new barbecue, why not go even greener? Harness the energy of that blazing Fourth of July sun with a solar-powered grill! Due to the boom in solar-powered gadgets, these green appliances aren’t hard to find.
3. Cut Down on Meat
Ah, summertime. Time for family barbecues filled with burgers, hot dogs, steaks, you name it. While delicious, meat is actually quite harmful for the environment. The production, process and distribution of meat consumes a huge amount of energy, water, food, fertilizer and more. And, in return, the meat industry spits out more greenhouse gases than all of our trains, planes and automobiles combined.
As demand for meat decreases, its associated greenhouse gas emissions will follow suit. Help the planet by cutting down this year. I don’t expect you to convert to veganism just yet — just consider scaling down red meat consumption and fill your grill with veggie skewers and these phenomenal quinoa burgers instead.
4. Go Solar
Speaking of solar-powered gadgets … do you plan to take advantage of the warm evening and extend your celebration after hours? If so, solar-powered lamps and lanterns are calling your name. Ditch those electric twinkly lights — they’re only adding to your electricity bills and enlarging your carbon footprint. Instead, think renewable energy. After the long sunshine-filled Fourth, your lights will get plenty of energy and you can bask in their glow all night long.
5. Just Say No to Fireworks
Though ooh-and-aah-worthy, fireworks are an environmental hazard, plain and simple. Fireworks contribute to air pollution, which is especially concentrated on the Fourth of July, and lead to respiratory issues like asthma.
What goes up must come down. Once fireworks are done wowing us, they fall to the ground, releasing colorants, propellants and all kinds of other unruly pollutants that are detrimental to the planet. These harmful chemicals can find their way into rivers, lakes, the ocean and our own drinking water supplies. They destroy aquatic ecosystems and threaten human health.
Instead of fireworks, find entertainment with a simple bonfire. Bring s’mores fixin’s and you’ve got yourself one spectacular Fourth of July evening.
The next day, volunteer for a good cause — environmental organizations often host beach cleanups the morning after the Fourth to pick up trash from fireworks users who are not in the know about green holidays.
6. Skip the Movies and Enjoy the Great Outdoors
It can be tempting to spend your Independence Day watching old American classic films. Maybe you do it to honor our forefathers, or maybe you simply want to spend the evening relaxing with loved ones. Don’t do it! Turning on televisions or heading to the theater consumes a lot of energy — likely sourced from fossil fuels. It’s summertime, the perfect time to get outside! Reduce your carbon footprint, make memories and enjoy nature by getting outdoors. Play lawn games with friends or organize a family hike to a beautiful viewpoint. There’s no better way to show your patriotism this Fourth than to enjoy the beauty of America’s nature!
How will you go green this Fourth of July?
Feature photo courtesy of Shutterstock