With picnics, parades and fireworks, 4th of July celebrations are often a highlight of summer. But these celebrations and the activities associated with them can be less than ideal for the planet. There are changes you can make to make the 4th of July gathering as environmentally friendly as possible. Several environmentally conscious organizations, such as the Sierra Club and Green Citizen, offer suggestions online for a more eco-responsible celebration.
One of the most obvious and perhaps the simplest suggestions is to phase out single-use plastics. If you are unable to provide reusable cutlery and crockery for your guests, ask them to bring their own. If reuse is not an option, buy biodegradable or compostable products made from renewable sources. Also, ditch the paper towels and opt for cloth napkins that can be washed and used for years. To minimize food waste, ask guests to bring reusable containers to take home leftover food and be sure to compost all leftover food. For drinks, buy larger carafes to share and pour into glasses instead of small individual bottles. Of course, have a recycling bin handy and recycle whatever you can.
Although there is no way to grill without pollution, use greener alternatives. Natural gas and propane create half the CO2 per charcoal hour. Grill as green as possible by adding more vegetarian items to the menu. While meat is a staple, chicken is the most sustainable of all the different types of meat, followed by turkey and pork, according to a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group.
If you buy decorations, save them for reuse next year rather than throwing them away. An alternative is to use decorations you already have, such as white Christmas lights. Or forgo the decorations and have guests dress in red, white, and blue. Food, including apples, berries, and coconut, can also be part of the decor. And if you have to go to a party, carpool or use public transport to limit the environmental impact of your travels.
According to PBS, on July 4, 1777, the first anniversary of Independence Day, Philadelphia celebrated the holiday by setting off fireworks. Fireworks have become a staple of the Fourth of July tradition, with more US cities setting them off every year. Although people know that fireworks are dangerous and most people know someone who ended up in the ER while using fireworks; few people are aware of the environmental impact of fireworks.
According to Tree Hugger, fireworks in the United States emit 60,340 metric tons of CO2 each year. It was also noted that this is a little more than 12,000 gasoline cars emit in a year. The most obvious result of a firework display is a lot of air pollution in a very short time. But in addition to adding fine particles to the air, when fireworks go off, metallic salts and explosions undergo a chemical reaction that not only releases smoke but also gases into the air, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen. These are all greenhouse gases responsible for global warming which is causing climate change. According to a study published in 2015 by Atmospheric Environment, a scientific journal, on average nationally, from 315 different test sites, the July 4 fireworks introduce 42% more pollutants into the air than we do not found a normal day.
Unfortunately, there is no completely planet-friendly way to enjoy fireworks. So-called ecological alternatives have been developed and although these fireworks emit 15 to 65% fewer particles than traditional fireworks, according to researchers from the American Chemical Society, they still considerably deteriorate the quality of the fireworks. air. If your Independence Day wouldn’t be the same without fireworks, the best option is to eliminate fireworks at home and carpool to see a local fireworks show. In addition to having no packaging waste, it helps reduce your own environmental impact by not adding additional pollutants to the air.
Please make your 4th of July gatherings as environmentally friendly as possible. It will be better for the atmosphere and the earth as well as a safer option for your family and it will help ensure that we can continue to celebrate this day for many generations to come.
Giulia Mannarino, of Belleville, is a member of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.