The 4th of July is an exciting nationwide holiday in the midst of summer pool parties and road trips. Friends, families and communities come together to jubilate with fireworks and barbeques that fill the sky with sounds of celebration. But, ironically, all of this festivity doesn’t come free.
We may have declared independence from Great Britain but we’re far from independent from planet Earth. While we no longer depend on a king’s jurisdiction for sustenance, we’re at the mercy of our environment.
It’s hard to say how much waste is produced on Independence Day but with millions of people celebrating all at once, the number is sure to be enormous. Especially, when you consider the weight of carbon released from fireworks and grilling!
Have a red, white, blue and GREEN Fourth of July! Try out a few of these tips:
- Cutlery and Plates: If possible, use what you can reuse like ceramic dishes, glasses and cutlery you already own. If that’s not possible, opt for sustainably-sourced, compostable silverware made from plants like bamboo or sugar cane.
- Food: There are many ways to be eco-conscious when it comes to cooking. Sourcing your fruits, vegetables and even meats from local growers and farmers is perhaps the easiest way to make an impact without having to change your diet. But a better way to drastically reduce your meal’s carbon footprint is to go meatless! Meat production emits heavy amounts of harmful greenhouse gases, so cut it out or replace it with a plant-based substitute. You’d be surprised how good a Portobello mushroom tastes hot off the grill! Lastly, you can choose to make meals out of foods that are currently in season. By eating in season, transport emissions and pesticide use are reduced while nutrient levels are elevated! Follow this guide to Florida’s Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables
- Storage: Aluminum is more sustainable than plastic. It can be reused and recycled hundreds of times without depreciation. Unlike plastic, which can only be recycled 2-3 times before it’s destined for the landfill. Cover your food with aluminum foil and remember to WASH it off before recycling.
- Grilling: Cooking on a grill is best done with natural charcoal or sustainably sourced wood. Grilling on charcoal containing petroleum, oil, or coal is bad for your health and releases harmful greenhouse gases. Natural charcoal can be found at many Ace Hardware stores. Sustainably-sourced firewood from responsibly managed forests will be labelled as such and easy to identify. Another viable alternative to traditional grilling is a gas, propane or electric grill.
- Waste Diversion: A recycling bin is a great addition to any party, but only if guests know how to use it properly. Avoid contamination by taping a typed or hand-drawn sign to the bin to let party-goers know what can and can not be recycled. Remember, it’s best if you have your guests rinse out their containers first. If you have a working compost bin or know someone who does, add a compost bin for food scraps.
- Invitations: Avoid leaving a paper trail and send out electronic invites via social media. Using the internet instead of the mail is cost and time efficient.
- Fireworks: Firework displays emit a mixture of gunpowder, accelerants and heavy metals into the air. Utilize community firework displays to reduce your footprint and minimize pollution. If you set off your own display, make sure to clean up any debris. To safely dispose of firework remnants, fill a metal bucket with water and sock debris overnight before throwing away.