This Saturday marks the 233rd birthday celebration of the United States of America. Commonly referred to as Independence Day, the 4th of July is a federal holiday commemorating the Declaration of Independence which was signed into effect on 4 July, 1776, which asserted America’s independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Most Independence Day celebrations are associated with colorful fireworks, beautiful parades and carnivals, yummy barbecues and picnics, outdoor music events and sports, and even political speeches.
However, times have changed and it is more important now than ever before to treat the USA and Mother Earth with the greatest respect. It is high time that Americans start being more proactive in protecting the land that they value so much. What better way to show your patriotism towards the good old U.S. of A., than by celebrating an eco-friendly 4th of July?
Here are a few ways to incorporate a bit of green into your Red, White and Blue celebrations:
* Be a Picky Eater
Choose organic fruits and vegetables as these have been grown without the use of dangerous pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, and purchase them from local farmers. In most cases this is a cheaper way to eat healthier and has the added bonus of supporting local farms. Contemplate celebrating Independence Day by eating vegetarian, which, besides the pro-animal argument, is also a superb healthy culinary alternative, especially when you consider the environmental benefits of eating vegetarian: Meat that is produced industrially accounts for a majority of the world’s water resources, oil consumption, emissions, and land use. Therefore, passing on the meat is the single most important thing that you can personally do in the fight against global warming.
If Veggie Burgers are not your thing and meat is still your protein of choice, then try to stay away from chicken, beef and pork that have been raised on factory farms as most of these animals have been fed steroids at some point in their lives in order to fatten them up before slaughter. Try Bison Burgers instead! Bison actually fertilize the ground that they walk on and help the grass to grow. The best part of eating a burger made with Bison meat is that they have one quarter of the fat than regular burgers do!
* Ditch the Styrofoam Plates
Styrofoam plates are so yesterday! Today, you can buy picnic plates that are either compostable or biodegradable. You can even purchase plates that have been made out of recycled yoghurt cups. If fashion is your thing, you can always opt for bamboo plates. The best thing is that using greener tableware and utensils are much cheaper than regular Styrofoam plates and cups!
For paper plate holders, purchase a few different colored Frisbee’s and place your plate inside them! Kids will love being able to play with their food after they have finished eating!
* Make your Grill Greener
Choose a sustainably-produced charcoal for your grill, such as Wicked Good Charcoal that is made from industrial scrap wood, and Kingsford Charwood, that is produced using clean-energy turbine heat. Using propane to fire up your grill isn’t so bad either; propane produces less than half of the emissions than ordinary charcoals.
* Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
Reduce the amount and toxicity of the trash that you throw out after your 4th of July party has ended, by reusing your containers, tablecloths, tableware and other products. Remember, to recycle as much as possible and always look for products that can be recycled before you buy them.
Some States will even pay you to bring in used soda cans and bottles!
* Green fireworks
Most fireworks are made using potassium perchlorate as the oxidizer, a material that provides the oxygen that fireworks need to burn. However, perchlorate, is considered to be an environmental pollutant and has health risks for people and wildlife. Studies have proven that perchlorate that is used in community fireworks displays set off over a lake, can contaminate the water and kill the fish.
The good news is that researchers have come up with a new formula that uses nitrogen-rich materials or nitrocellulose which burns cleaner and produces less smoke instead of using perchlorate.
The bad news is that since there are no federal regulations limiting the amount of perchlorate that is released from fireworks, and that the cost of making such environmentally friendly fireworks is expensive, most fireworks manufacturers are not interested in making and selling them.
Fireworks are not the safest way to celebrate Independence Day at home. If going out to watch the firework display put on by your city is not an option, then opt for other colorful decorations like ribbon streamers made out of recycled paper.
Photo Credit: J.W.Photography