Memorial Day traditions have become just as American as Apple Pie. And while we are supposed to be honoring those who have died serving in our many wars, most people use the day for cookouts, parades, camping, the start of summer, and of course the American tradition of drinking on holidays.  All these traditions are  a blast and an exciting way to start your summer off with a bang. They also can all be done with the environment in mind. We celebrate our Memorial Day as green as we can and here’s to hoping you will too. Let’s start a new American tradition of making a smaller imprint on the Earth, while still indulging in our fun! To help this new tradition along, we have put together some helpful tips on how to make sure your Memorial Day is red, white, blue, and green!

1) Green that Grill: BBQ is a true Memorial Day and summer tradition and it is easy to green your grill.  Replacing your chemical laden charcoal to more earth friendly means such as wood briquettes or natural organic charcoal. For that smokey BBQ taste, we recommend the wood briquettes! Either of these choices will leave your food without the burning of coal, petroleum products, sawdust, or limestone, which are all toxic. If you want to take it one step further, invest in a new clean burning grill. This will emit far less pollution into the air and your food. It may not be traditional but electric grills, put out 99% less carbon monoxide. If you have the money, the Hybrid Grill is a great way to go, although a tad pricey! For more tips on how to have a green grilling experience, refer to our blog from last summer: Green Your Grill: Eco BBQ Tips.

2) Hold the Meat: Although traditional American BBQs include tons and tons of meat! To truly green your BBQ, we suggest you hold the meat. The meat industry consumes more than a third of the fossil fuels in the US and contributes 18% of greenhouse gases, which is even more than the transportation industry! And those figures are just the beginning of how the current factory farm meat industry is adversely affecting our world.  Environmentalists have long been promoting a veggie based diet as a way to green your life, so why not make the switch for your BBQ this year! There are hundreds of great veggie based “meat” style products on the market such as Veggie Burgers, Soy Dogs, Soy Sausage, Veggie Ribs etc. For some great recommendations check out our Vegan BBQ Tips and Product Battle: Hot Dogs. If faux meat is not your thing, you can always grill veggies straight on the grill or drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and olive oil! For more ideas on veggie recipes look no further than our backlog of delicious vegan recipes. Also, don’t forget to purchase your veggies organic and local if at all possible!

3) Organic & Fair Trade Drinks: Even if we try, we can not deny that many American holidays revolve around drinking! And Memorial Day is no stranger to this rule. Luckily more and more organic beer, wine, and spirits are on the market these days. Try your best to support your local micro breweries when selecting beer, however, if no organic beer is available try a couple of these brands: Peak Organic, Samuel Smith, and Fish Tale Organic Ales. Green America has also put together a list of recommendations for organic beers that we found helpful. For wines look no further than Frey for organic and Etica for Fair Trade. If you like the hard stuff there are also a number of organic and Fair Trade spirits on the market such as Square One Vodka, Tru Organic Gin, 4 Copas Organic Tequila. Also, FAIR Vodka, the first Fair Trade vodka on the market is now available in the US. For ideas on Fair Trade and Organic Cocktails, check out our recipe backlog.

4) Stay Local: We know, we know, a “staycation” is nowhere near as exciting as traveling far away to go camping. However, traveling by car for long distances or by plane is not so eco-friendly. Now we aren’t saying you should camp out in your own backyard literally (although that can be an adventure), we just mean look for destinations close to home. Stay within 20-50 miles of your own home! You may find that there are wonderous campgrounds, beautiful hiking trails, or a pretty lake nearby that you never noticed. You can even do a search on Reserve America to find campgrounds near you or look into the National and State Park systems for local ideas.

5) Alternative Transportation: If you must travel this Memorial Day weekend, we suggest you look to other means besides planes and cars! Bike travel is catching on quickly and is a fun and healthy way to travel. There are plenty of companies that put together tours or you can do it DIY style. Here are some tips on traveling by bike! If traveling by bicycle is a little too intensive for you or if you are traveling with a larger group, you can look into traveling by bus or rail. There are bus companies that will take you and your family to beautiful destinations for camping or hiking. Traveling by public transportation or by bike makes your entire journey an adventure and while you won’t get control of the radio perse, you can experience a whole other world of travel. And really do you ever get control of the radio on family trips?

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We went to the beach Photo By SanyamStudioWe are now in the middle of July and summer is finally here! Summer is the time for vacations, and in this modern era most of us tend to travel via jet plane. So you may be wondering with all the air travel, is this really environmentally sound? Ok, so we love to travel all over the world and take great pleasure in riding the skies, so we don’t want to sound anti-travel. But the truth is jet fuel is extremely toxic for the environment and puts off a tremendous amount of carbon emissions. So much so that it has been shown that going vegan or vegetarian for an entire year cuts as much carbon as skipping a 5 hour flight!!! As Planet Green reports “5 hours on a place going across the country has roughly the same impact as 8,765 hours of making green food decisions.”

Airplane over the Autobahn Photo By poolieThat being said it is really important to understand how much emissions your summer flight plans will cause. There are a few easy ways to do this including CNN’s Carbon Calculator that simply allows you to plug in your airport origin and destination. It will then spit out 3 facts for you: distance traveled, how many tons of CO2 produced, and how much of the rainforest it would take to absorb this pollution. For instance if you took a roundtrip flight from New York to San Francisco, you will have traveled 8310 km, produced 1.001 tons of CO2, and it would require 1.001 hectares of the rainforest a year to consume the CO2!  Although this calculator is very simple and does not take into account the size of plane, amount of people on board, and exact flight route: it is a quick and simple way to get an estimate of your impact when traveling. 

Corbett national park forest Photo by netlancer2006Now that you know how much you are polluting due to your travel plans, there is a couple things you can do about it! Purchasing carbon offsets is a great way to go, as they put your money towards funding a reduction in greenhouse gases. There are several companies that will do this for you including Climate Friendly, Atmofair, and Native Energy. If you want a breakdown of several companies comparing price and projects, check out this Carbon Emissions Survey. Be sure that you also consider radiative forcing when purchasing your carbon offset. Carbon offsets are a great way to make an impact while globetrotting, but are there alternatives to plane travel? You can choose to take a bus or train across the country, however these require time and patience. And you could carpool with several friends in an alternative fuel car or ride a bicycle! But if you are traveling overseas, besides sailing across the oceans there isn’t really an alternative at this moment. 

Enjoy the summer and all your globetrotting you may have planned. Just remember that every time you fly, you are adding to a rise in greenhouse gases. Be conscious of this factor and please do something about it! Either fly less (which we know is difficult) or purchase those carbon offsets, or better yet do both. Bon Voyage!

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