This weekend is America’s birthday and people around the country will be celebrating in good ol’ American fashion: grilling, drinking, and blowing things up! The 4th of July is a joyous holiday spent celebrating our independence from the colonial power of England. Whether you spend the day soaking up history, being patriotic, or simply drinking and watching fireworks, this holiday can create a lot of waste. But never fear, we have compiled a quick list of helpful tips to “green” your 4th of July. However, you spend your holiday, enjoy your day and Happy Birthday America!!

How to Have An Eco-Friendly 4th:

1)Green Your Menu: Traditionally 4th of July is all about the BBQ, thus burgers and hot dogs. But there is a greener way to celebrate the day! Try and cut back on meats or turn to vegetarian options. If meat is a must try to only purchase local, sustainable, and organic types. However, there are plenty of vegan options out there including soy meats or bean burgers. For some ideas on recipes, check out our backlog. Also, purchase your veggies and fruit from local and organic venues such as Farmer’s Markets, CSAs, and Natural Foods Stores. Additionally, look into grilling with a greener grill, such as solar or hybrid models or even natural and organic charcoal.

2) Keep the Party Outdoors: The weather is warm and the natural landscape is gorgeous, so why not party outside? Avoid partying inside, as to cut down on energy waste. If you are outside, you won’t have to worry about fans, lighting, or the air conditioner. Plus you can add more to your celebration such as outdoor games like boccie ball, badminton, or croquet. Why not spend your 4th soaking up the sun, instead of hiding in the air-conditioned house?! Here in New England, we only have a few months of warm weather, so be sure and take advantage of it.  If you really enjoy soaking up that sun near water, try to stay local.  If possible consider taking public transportation, buses, or even your bike to the beach, lake or river to celebrate the day. The less you drive or closer you stay to home, the less your 4th of July carbon footprint will be!

3) A Greener Firework Display: Although fireworks are beautiful and a 4th of July tradition, the truth is they are not so eco-friendly. Gun powder, accelerants, and heavy metals are thrown into the air when fireworks explode! These chemicals create poor air quality which affects our health and the environment. Instead of using fireworks at home, try decorating with recycled paper, re-used decor, or even newspaper. Since your city will likely put on a show using conventional fireworks, propose to the city or community that they use Sekon biodegradable or Disney’s gunpowder free fireworks instead.

4) Drink Responsibly: Alright we have to admit when celebrating our nation’s birthday, Americans LOVE to drink! What is a 4th celebration without the booze? Luckily, there are all sorts of great options out there. Local micro-breweries and organic beers are a great alternative to conventional types. If you are wondering why pay more for organic beer, check out our write-up on the benefits of organic beers. Organic and vegan wines are also readily available! But if you prefer the hard stuff, almost every type of liquor from tequila to vodka are now made sustainably and organic. We have compiled several tasty cocktail recipes which include organic spirits. Be sure this holiday that you not only be responsible and leave your car at home, but also drink with earth responsibility!

5) Re-Use, Re-Use, Re-Use: We know when throwing a party, washing dishes can be a pain. However, it is far less polluting and wasteful to use re-usable settings such as plates, cups, and silverware. Paper and plastics, even the recyclable kinds, take an incredible amount of resources to make and recycle. Therefore, it is best to use the dishes you have around the house. If you don’t have enough for your party guests, consider picking some extra settings up at your local thrift store or investing in sustainably made dinnerware. If you must use paper products, be sure you purchase biodegradable items such as corn or soy.

-Gina Williams