Red, White, and...Green?

 
Photo by  Louis Reed  on Unsplash

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

 

For many, celebrating our nation’s independence is one of the most memorable parts of the summer. Fireworks, cookouts, parades—how could you not get excited for the festivities? To make sure you celebrate sustainably and honor our country’s beautiful parks and green spaces, keep the following guidelines in mind.

1.  Reduce Your Food Footprint

Serving fruits and vegetables at your party or picnic? Harvest from your own garden (or those of your friends and neighbors) if you can, and when you’re at the market, look for locally grown and organic produce. As we’ve mentioned previously, this will not only boost your local economy, but also helps reduce the fuel consumption and packaging associated with imported goods. If you’ll be purchasing processed foods (because who DOESN’T want to celebrate with potato chips), nix the individually wrapped options and buy bulk instead.

2.  Cool Off with an Eco-Friendly Popsicle

There isn’t anything more refreshing on a hot summer’s day than an ice-cold popsicle, and if you make them yourself, you can avoid having to toss all of those wrappers in the trash afterwards. You can purchase popsicle molds online or at your local store, and it’s easy to find a recipe for your favorite flavor.

3.  Ditch the Disposables

It’s so easy to pick up a few sets of paper or plastic dishware and call it a night…but ask yourself, it is convenient for our planet? Use cloth napkins and normal tableware and recruit a few friends to help you clean up at the end of the party. You can also try using compostable items, and if you’re celebrating with a keg (after all, it saves wonders in terms of bottles and cans), ask guests to bring along their own glass or reusable cup.  

4.  Decorate Wisely

Who says you can’t use those table toppers from last year’s event? Keep unnecessary waste from going into the landfill by storing your party decorations for future celebrations, or even swapping with a friend to keep things fresh. You can also get creative and try upcycling some common items from around your house: wouldn’t those white Christmas lights look great in the backyard? What about using fresh flowers or fruit in shades of red, white, and blue to add pops of color to your table?

 
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5.  Enjoy Fireworks with the Environment in Mind

The most iconic way we celebrate the 4th is unfortunately not the greenest, but there are ways you can reduce your impact. Attend a community display instead of setting off your own, or consider using fireworks rich in nitrogen—they produce less smoke than other types do.

6.  Leave No Trace

Wherever you’re celebrating, be sure to pick up after yourself, and encourage your guests to do the same. Nobody wants to wake up the next day to find their streets and parks littered with trash, and it’s not just food waste we’re talking about. Remember to clean up firework remnants too!

7.  Recycle

So much of what goes in the trash can actually be given a second life. Let your guests know where they can dispose of their cans, plastic bottles, and if your community allows it, glass. In a public location with no recycling bin in sight? There’s no shame in carrying it out with you. Just bring along a few paper bags! Check your local stores to see if they’ll take your plastic bags as well.

Would you add anything else to this list? Leave your ideas in the comments below!