Make Your Fourth of July Red, White, Blue - and Green!
By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the NatuREport Blog Series
Ahh, America. The land of the free, the home of…gargantuan carbon footprints?
Since holidays are, by their nature, an extra drain on resources, it’s hard to imagine how any celebration could be truly “green.” But never fear, NatuREporters – I’ve gathered some tips on how you can celebrate and still be Earth conscious. For a green Fourth of July, take another look at:
After a near-sleepless night during which rowdy neighbors set them off every few minutes, I am (understandably, I think) a little bitter towards fireworks. But even setting my personal vendetta aside, there are other good reasons that personal fireworks displays would have no part in a green Fourth of July:
They kill birds. Like, lots of birds. Remember the famous Arkansas case in which 5,000 blackbirds dropped dead on New Year’s Eve 2011? Sorry, conspiracy theorists – it wasn’t aliens or a government plot. It was someone setting off fireworks near the trees where the birds roost at night. It scared the birds (who have poor night vision) and they panicked, flying into houses and signs and other stationary objects. Such an event is less likely to occur when the fireworks are set off in a more open space (meaning not around trees and other potential roosts).
They’re toxic. Fireworks often contain carcinogenic or hormone-disrupting substances, which can find their way into water and soil. The jury is still out on whether or not that has an effect on humans, but if you want to play it safe, don’t set off your own. Attending a large community fireworks display the better choice (in the same way that riding public transportation is better than driving your car) and attending a laser show is even better.
If you ask me, food is the greatest part of any holiday! But if you’re not careful, your feast might make your footprint a little larger than you intended. To keep minimal the environmental impact of your celebration:
Use reusable dishes. Though the convenience offered by disposable plates and cups can be tempting, consider this: everything you throw away has to go somewhere. And somewhere ain’t pretty.
If you’re having a barbeque, have a bin of hot soapy water ready for your guests to dump their dirty dishes in; this will minimize the time you must invest in cleaning up. If you’re planning on a picnic instead, and you’re dead set on using disposables, invest in a biodegradable set.
Use less meat. I’ll bet you’re sick of me saying this. Listen to the experts, then: the Environmental Working Group released a study last year that came to the conclusion that meat and dairy are destructive to the environment and should be limited.
The good news? There are great alternatives out there. Kebabs are a summer favorite, and with good reason – they’re endlessly customizable! To “green” your BBQ, make kebabs that include veggies, mushrooms, and other plant-based favorites. If you’ve got die-hard carnivores coming over, you can still throw some meat on the skewers; just buy a smaller amount, and make sure it’s organic and grass-fed.