5 tips for a greener Fourth of July barbecue

| July 2, 2014
From Kevin Meyers.

Opt for compostable plates, not plastic ones. From Kevin Meyers.

Fourth of July is all about family, friends, food, fireworks, and fun. Of course, it’s also about honoring the United States. And what better way to say “Happy Birthday” to the good ol’ U.S. of A. than to take good care of it with an eco-friendly Fourth of July celebration? After all, what good is a nation’s birthday party if you spend it creating trash that will languish in landfills for the next 10, 100, or even 1,000 birthday parties? (We’re not exaggerating: plastic bottles can take 1,000 years to biodegrade.) We’ve gathered a few tips that will help make your Fourth of July festivities fun and earth-friendly. Party on!

Tip #1: Ditch the plastic dishes

Plastic dishes are often a staple of Fourth of July barbeques, but the earth pays the price. Use reusable dishes if at all possible. If that’s not possible, try compostable dishes made of recycled materials. Compostable dishes have come a long way over the past several years, and today it’s easy to find sturdy, affordable options.

Tip #2: View community fireworks instead of setting off your own

Fireworks are beautiful, but they also contain a lot of chemicals that can be potentially hazardous. And that’s not even counting the cardboard shells left behind, or the gauze it might take to bandage up your fingers if you don’t do a good job setting them off. If you want to enjoy fireworks, it’s best to take in a community show. (They tend to be more impressive anyway!) Think of it like the carpooling version of fireworks displays.

Tip #3: Share a ride to the party

Speaking of carpooling, the Fourth of July is a great time to do it. If you and your pals are headed to the same party, hop in together. This is a good idea for a few reasons. From an environmental perspective, carpooling dramatically cuts down on gas emissions. From a practical perspective, it also reduces the traffic congestion that is often legendary over this holiday — plus, one designated driver can provide a safe ride home for more passengers in case the festivities get a bit out of hand.

Tip #4: Hydrate with reusable water bottles

The Fourth of July is bound to be hot. Hydration is critical, but you don’t have to keep cool at the expense of the environment. Americans throw away a stunning number of water bottles per year. Fill up a big reusable bottle instead. If you’re hosting a party, borrow or rent a large water dispenser. Feel like going the extra mile? Take a few minutes to gather up discarded plastic bottles and find the nearest recycling bin. That’s all it takes to get good karma.

Tip #5: Reuse or borrow decorations

If you host an annual party, why not invest in good decorations and keep them around year after year? You’ll save money in the long run and help the environment by keeping decorations out of the landfill. If you’re opting for a one-time shindig, ask around — chances are, you have a friend with some festive goodies stored away. Here’s to making sure that future generations will be able to enjoy Fourth of July celebrations on a cleaner planet. Happy Fourth of July!

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About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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