From BBQs to dazzling firework displays, the Fourth of July is one of the biggest holidays in the United States. However, did you know that the holiday is actually one of the dirtiest days of the year?
Single-use plastics are at an all-time high, in addition to all the air pollution from fireworks and picnics. The effects on our planet from this holiday can be seen on our beaches, parks, shores, and in the air. With the “trash” often hanging around for years to come, the pollution just in one day leaves a lasting effect on our food production, wildlife, and landfills.
In this blog, you will find tips for celebrating the Fourth of July in an environmentally-friendly way.
Ways to Reduce Air Pollution
Studies show that air pollution the day after the Fourth of July is up as high as 42 percent. In addition, the colorants, propellants, and metals in fireworks usually end up in our soil and waterways. The main way to help reduce this is to limit the use of personal fireworks altogether. If you are craving a firework show, however, carpooling to the large event or taking public transportation will reduce pollution. This small step really does make a big difference when having a day of contaminants filling the air.
Let’s say you are throwing your own Fourth of July party. Here are some sustainable alternatives to buying fireworks:
- Light projectors
- Laser light shows
- Eco-friendly floating lanterns
- LED candles in glass hurricanes
- Solar-powered LED string lights
Each of these things can easily be found on Amazon, and they are often cheaper than fireworks, in addition to being reusable.
When it comes to cooking, the best thing to do would be to avoid barbecuing altogether. Nonetheless, if this is what you choose to do there are some things that will help reduce the impact on the environment.
The first one is to use a solar-powered grill. While these do tend to run a little expensive and may leave the food in a bit of a different texture, they are the best option for a planet-friendly BBQ. Solar grills use completely renewable energy and have a low carbon footprint.
The second-best option is to use a propane or gas grill. Even thorough they use fossil fuels, natural gas and propane emit about half the CO2 each hour, compared to charcoal.
Another thing to keep in mind is that cooking fruits & vegetables is 35 times less harmful to the environment than meat. For more insight on the effects check out this post.
Reduce Plastic and Waste Contributions
So, as you prepare for the holiday, there are a few things you can do to reduce your garbage production. The first one is buying food in bulk instead of smaller packages. This could be something as simple as choosing a big bottle of soda instead of cans or choosing mini bags of chips instead of a big bag. The same can be done when buying your grillables as well.
Did you know that 40% of plastic waste produced every year is because of packaging? This has created an impact of 5 million tons of plastic waste on our planet, with an estimated 13 million tons of plastic currently filling our oceans. For more insight on the effects of plastic on our environment, check this out.
When it comes to the Fourth of July, there are other things you can do to help:
- Choosing reusable cutlery instead of disposable cutlery. This could be using washable silverware, plates, and cups. If you don’t have enough, local thrift shops are great places to get some in an affordable way.
- Use biodegradable silverware. Bioplastics are either made from PLA (polylactic acid) and PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate.) They are usually made from fermented plant starches like corn, cassava, sugarcane, or sugar beets. Lowes has a great selection of biodegradable products for people living in the United States. However, if you live somewhere else, check out EcoTensil; they ship almost everywhere.
- Use cutlery made of wood. These are more compostable and in some cases reusable.
- Bring food in reusable containers.
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.
Lastly, remember to always separate and recycle cans, paper, and glass bottles. A simple way to do this is to set out separate bins for guests to use.
In conclusion, celebrating the Fourth of July doesn’t always have to hurt the environment. These simple, environmentally friendly choices could forever make an impact on our parks, oceans, streets, and landfills.
For more ways to help keep our planet beautiful, check out these helpful resources: