How are you celebrating this Fourth of July? Flipping some delicious veggie burgers on the grill? Sipping on a little afternoon sangria aptly adorned with cherries, coconut wedges and blueberries? Parading around in your finest patriotic attire?
Whatever your plans for the holiday, you can pledge allegiance to our country by breaking out your red, white, blue…and green, and pledging allegiance to our land, water and air. Yes, you can still fire up your grills and oooh and ahhh over the fireworks – just take a few minutes to nod to Lady Liberty by being a good eco-conscious citizen, too.
Here are five eco-tips to remember:
- Green your grilling. Cooking out with charcoal can release a myriad of chemicals into the air causing smoke, pollution and toxins. In fact, it’s estimated that Americans using their grills on the Fourth of July is the equivalent of 2,300 acres of forest burning. No need to toss the burgers and dogs though, just opt for a natural gas barbecue or even organic, natural charcoal.
- Ditch the plastics. Backyard barbecues and beach-side picnics invariably call for plastic or Styrofoam plates, cups and utensils. It may be the easiest way to go, but it’s also the most harmful to Mother Nature. Plastics require precious resources, like crude oil, to make them. They remain in the earth for hundreds of years when we dispose of them. And, they can litter our beaches, parks and waterways. Instead, look for bamboo or recycled serving wear. Better yet, use washable plates and glasses. It requires a little more clean-up at the end, but at least you know they’ll end up back in your cabinets instead of in a landfill.
- Think local. When shopping for your holiday feast, why not head to your local farmer’s market? You can pick up fresh organic fruits, veggies and meat that were farmed without harsh chemicals. Not only that, but you can get food that was grown locally, meaning less resources, like gas and oil, were used to transport them.
- Cool the fireworks. No doubt, the color and beauty of fireworks is exciting and fun to watch. But did you know they release harmful gunpowder and heavy metals into the air? To cut down on this pollution, avoid at-home displays and venture to your town’s fireworks show. You can even convince city officials to use earth-friendly fireworks using compressed air, like they do at Disney World now (and nobody puts on a more spectacular show than Mickey!)
- Clean up. Before the day’s festivities begin, how about organizing a clean-up crew in your community to scoop up litter and debris at your local park or beach? Then put out recycling bins for party-goers to use throughout the day. Nothing says patriotic more than taking care of our land!
Do you have other ideas for an eco-friendly Fourth of July? Leave a comment below and share them with us!
Photo: Creative Commons