The Independence Day celebration is a staple in many communities, and there are many ways to make it more environmentally-friendly for generations to come. Here are some of our favorite ways to consider the earth and the cost to our resources when planning your next red, white, and blue bash!
- Skip straws. Some cities are already taking measure to reduce the use of these plastic utensils, but party hosts can get in on the action, too. Replace your disposable straws with those made of stainless steel, bamboo, paper, or glass. You can also serve drinks that are easy to sip from fancy glasses sans straw!
- Decorate with Nature. Streamers, confetti, glitter, and other festive flair are difficult to clean up and can often end up in waterways. Go with biodegradable options, if available, by creating tablescapes and wall hangings from flowers, fruits, and other colorful pieces of nature. Encourage guests to take them home as a parting gift!
- Limit Water Usage. If you have an already-filled pool, by all means, Filling it up just for the day, however, can be a waste of water (and money.) Consider smaller kiddie pools for pets and small children, or do a limited run under the sprinkler. 10-minute bursts a few times during the hot day can provide refreshing fun without using as much water as continually running water.
- Give beverage packaging the boot. Holiday parties are usually commemorated by all the bottles and cans you must then recycle. Buying sodas in bulk, rather than individual portions, is more affordable and leaves less waste behind. You may also consider a DIY soda maker machine. (Priced at under $80, you can make your own sodas and skip purchasing any packaging.) If you’re among those spending over $1billion on beer and $568million on wine, look at more responsible packaging options for those, as well (no single servings.)
- Don’t buy balloons. These are a choking hazard for kids and pets, plus they end up in waterways. Helium balloons travel miles before posing a danger to far away wildlife.
- Keep track of fireworks. If you’re among the 26% of Americans who can’t do a 4th of July party without the fireworks, use common sense and safe handling practices to keep sparks away from structures, dry vegetation and people and pets! Check to be sure they are legal to use in your area, and always light one at a time before moving away as they ignite, and keep water on hand in case the fire continues to burn after the firework has exploded. Finally, remember that every time one blows up, small paper particles are dispersed, so try to keep the lighting in one area (preferably on concrete) where the debris can be found and disposed of responsibly.
- BBQ with care. Grill those burgers, but watch hot coals! They can be devastating to fire-prone areas and should never be put into the trash with other garbage. Keep your grill away from the home and garage, and use proper methods to help coals cool safely. Always have a fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies!
Remember, it’s possible to have fun and be responsible this holiday. If you remind guests to leave the areas they use better than when they arrived, it should be a rather green 4th for everyone.