Fireworks, friends, grillin’, and chillin’. The sounds and sights of summer are never livelier than on the 4th of July. While it’s a time to pause and reflect on how great it is living in the good ol’ US of A, it’s also time to celebrate summer…usually loudly!
But as they say, with great celebration comes great responsibility. Or at the least, some sustainability. After all, there’s no reason we can’t think of Mother Earth as we wolf down our hot dogs and BBQ.
And with all the celebrations, there’s sure to be a lot of opportunities to make some changes to protect our communities, our land, and our water. So we thought it’d be a good idea to pass along some suggestions, or reminders, on how to celebrate with a greener 4th of July.
Skip On Buying Fireworks and Go To Public Displays
DIY firework displays are common and if done well, quite entertaining. But while most participants and spectators are aware of the potential dangers associated with DIY shows, such as fires and property damage, they may not be thinking of a different cause for concern – pollution.
The debris that’s left behind in the aftermath of a DIY show, often consisting of unrecyclable charred metal and plastic, acts as littered evidence of the joyful destruction. But aside from the unnatural waste left behind lies a larger cause for concern.
Each year, fireworks increase air pollution levels. The toxins from firework chemical reactions and burning reduce air quality substantially, leaving behind metal particles, fumes, and smoke for hours…even days after the event.
So what’s the alternative? Eliminating the DIY firework display and attending public firework displays is the easiest substitute. When you eliminate the DIY show, you not only reduce the amount of land, air, and sound pollution, you also eliminate the risk of fire, property damage, and bodily injury.
Helping to curtail the issue, cities are including greener alternatives for their 4th of July displays. Laser shows and drone light shows are becoming more common, especially in areas where air pollution is an everyday concern. These alternatives will continue to grow in popularity and become more spectacular – feeding eyeballs with the spectacular light show they crave without the land, air, and sound pollution.
Put Out Three Bins
Responsible waste handling is another easy step to take for a greener 4th of July, and ideally, utilizing bins for trash, recycling, and compost are made available. Recycling can even be broken down further based on waste type, and depending on your recycling process and pick up, you may need to. And if you’re participating in commercial composting, always follow the procedures from your local compost center. Chances are good that this isn’t anything new to you, right?!
Reusable or Compostable Dishes and Cutlery
Some of the most popular party purchases used during the 4th of July or any outdoor gathering, plastic plates, cups, straws, and cutlery, are not recyclable. When you think of all the plastic plates, cups, and utensils used in your neighborhood, it’s a lot. When you think about the use nationwide, it’s seriously overwhelming.
It’s a relatively easy fix, and we’ve got you covered with a few options that’ll help reduce non-recyclable and non-compostable waste and promote a greener 4th of July:
- Transport and store food and beverages in reusable containers, such as glass
- For those reusable containers, use ones with matching lids and eliminate the need for non-recyclable plastic wrap
- Have reusable plates, cups, and silverware on hand that’s washable and reused for all your outdoor gatherings
- Use 100% biodegradable or compostable plates, cups, and cutlery – often made from paper, bioplastic, a plant-based material, or wood
- Eliminate plastic straws – move to paper-based straws or eliminate them altogether
- Start a new neighborhood trend…BYOC – Bring Your Own (reusable) Cutlery or Cup!
Finding ways to reduce beverage bottles and can waste is as easy as planning ahead. Using large reusable beverage dispensers, drinking water as an example helps eliminate single-use bottles and containers.
And for beer drinkers, opting for kegs over bottles and cans is a great alternative. To help the cause even further, encourage guests to bring their own beverage cup or mug, and consider offering prizes for best in show!
Shop For Local Fruits & Veggies
There is a carbon cost tied to all the food and beverages we consume daily. The energy needed in the producing, processing, and transporting of our consumables is often overlooked. Being more responsible includes finding ways to offset things and reduce your overall carbon footprint associated with food purchases.
This is where buying local, organic produce, especially those already in season, will help reduce your overall food carbon footprint. Local, organic fruits and veggies will not contain the chemicals and toxins typically used in non-organic food production. Buying local, in-season produce means there’s little to no transportation and storage energy used. It’s a win for the local business, a win for your health, and a win for the environment.
Celebrate Again Outside On The 5th
Make the 5th of July an opportunity to connect with nature. Breathe in some fresh air, and take some time to do some good. Whether it’s your local park, at the beach, or your surrounding neighborhood, taking a little time to clean up some trash and other DIY firework debris is a good way to connect with your environment and the people around you.
Store & Reuse Decorations
Don’t throw away those reusable party decorations! Always purchase items that can be reused year after year. They can easily be stored along with your other holiday decorations for future use. After all, the 4th of July is an annual event, but purchasing your festive decorations doesn’t need to be.
Last but not least, having a greener 4th of July wouldn’t be complete without a Smile Coffee Werks® brew. Our 100% commercially compostable coffee pods are perfect for all holiday occasions. And single-cup pods are ideal for when your guests want a convenient afternoon or evening pick-me-up. Check out our flavor and roast options here, and have a safe and greener 4th of July!