Have a Green 4th of July!
The Fourth of July is a time to get together with friends and family, to celebrate American history, and to eat BBQ in the summer fun. Traditional 4th of July celebrations can create a lot of pollution. It's easy to replace some old habits with new ones for this year's Independence Day.
Greener Grilling: On the Fourth of July alone, an estimated 60 million barbecues light up nationwide, consuming enough energy to power 20,000 households for an entire year. But who says you need to give up your hot dogs and steak in order to be an environmentalist? Buy a natural gas or infrared grill instead of dirty-burning charcoal. Avoid chrome-coated aluminum grills and instead opt for steel or cast iron (my favorite). Also, go with a smaller grill, as they take less energy to heat up.
Nix the Plastic Disposables: Plastic plates can remain in the environment for hundreds of years and suck up crude oil in their production (styrofoam is even worse). Following big 4th of July parties they often end up littering beaches and parks. If you can't use disposable dishes and cutlery (Target stores have some great, inexpensive picnic reusables), go for compostable options made from potatoes, and products made from recycled materials.
Go Local with Your Menu: Spend an hour at the farmers market to pick up local fruits and veggies. Skip the highly processed pink hot fogs and instead go for some locally made sausages (which are usually much yummier, anyway). Go with locally brewed beer (again, usually quite yummy) and increase the number of fruit and veggie dishes on your menu. Who doesn't like fruit salad on a hot day?
One is the Loneliest Number (and the least green): Carpool, carpool, carpool and stay close to home. Go to big local celebrations instead of having your own.
What to do about the Fireworks? You've probably guessed that fireworks emit a ton of pollution. If you're like me, however, you are not willing to give up the extravagant displays at your July 4th celebration. There are several lower-emitting fireworks in the works, but none are as spectacular as the originals. Find out what your city officials are using and keep an eye out for more eco-friendly options in the years to come.