7 Tips for Eco-Friendly 4th of July Celebrations
Oh my, how the time flies. With just a blink of the eye, it would appear that the 4th of July is upon us. And what better way to honor America and its air, land, wildlife, and oceans by serving up an eco-friendly celebration?
Here are 7 ways you can paint the town red, white, and blue while still being green.
1. Cut Out One-time Use Plastics
Disposable plates, cups, and silverware are convenient for us but terrible for the environment. Instead, opt for using your regular washable dishes and cutlery. If you’re worried about the mess you’ll have to clean up, turn your eco-friendly party into a BYOP “Bring Your Own Plate” theme. As an added bonus, the different colored and styled plates become unique decor created by your guests.
2. Use Large Drink Dispensers
Plastic is not only bad for the environment, but it poses possible health risks as well. Have large water dispensers available and ask your guests to bring their own reusable water bottles. One of the added benefits of this is they’ll automatically know which one is theirs, removing the need to marker plastic cups with names. Also, a simple red (watermelon), white (coconut), and blue (blueberry) fruit water would taste great and look festive. And there are tons of alternative recipes, for fruit infused water online.
Instead of buying individual cans and bottles of beer, considering getting a keg from your favorite local brewery. This reduces waste and supports local businesses.
3. Go Green While Grilling
Nothing screams 4th of July celebration like barbeque. The smell alone wafting through a courtyard harkens us back to happy memories of Independence Days past. As the #1 Grilling Day of the year, backyard barbeques will fire up and an estimated 60 million Americans will release 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air. Not great for the environment.
Reduce your carbon footprint by using cleaner burning propane grills in lieu of charcoal. If the charcoal taste is what you crave, choose coal made from sustainably managed forest trees. And before you run out and buy starter fluid consider using chemical-free starters.
4. Barbeque the Vegan Way
When we think of barbeque we think of meat: ribs, brisket, chicken, pork, etc. But recent environmental studies show that this heavy meat-based diet has dire consequences for the environment. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” study leader and University of Oxford professor Joseph Poore told the Guardian.
The rapid growth of the vegan market (2017 saw a 600% increase in people identifying as Vegan from 2014), means barbecuing alternatives like these cauliflower steaks, sweet potato black bean burgers, portobello mushroom burgers, and vegan rib recipes are on the here to satiate even your most omnivorous friends.
5. Buy Green Fireworks
Fireworks, in general, aren’t great for the environment, but they are steeped in 4th of July tradition. If you plan to set off your own fireworks, ask for the kinds that are rich in nitrogen.
Better yet, look for local fireworks displays that you can attend and reach out to the coordinators about using biodegradable fireworks or gunpowder-free fireworks, like the kind Disney uses, that launch using compressed air.
Check out Just Energy for more great tips on green and safe alternatives to fireworks.
6. Use Reef-safe Sunscreen
Before you head to the beach this July 4th, check your sunscreen. According to NPR, more than 3,500 sun protection products contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are chemicals known to bleach coral reefs, effectively killing them. And with an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen going into the ocean each year, choosing reef-safe products is crucial for the environment.
7. Reuse and Repurpose Your Decorations
Avoid buying one-time-use decorations like paper streamers, balloons, and plastic tablecloths. Choose red, white, and blue foods to help create a festive July 4th, ambiance. Use food coloring to produce red and blue drinks. And repurpose your red, white, and blue holiday lights by stringing them up for your party.
Don’t be afraid to make your guests earn their invitation by dressing to the theme (and bringing their own dishes). Those red, white, and navy blue pants and shirts have been waiting all year for their day in the sun. Let them be your decor.
Follow these 7 simple tips and you’ll be throwing a fun, eco-friendly celebration that will have your friends begging you to host once again next year.