Because most of last year’s Fourth of July festivities were cancelled and much of the nation is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, this year’s most patriotic holiday is set to be bigger than ever. That doesn’t mean the impact on the environment has to be bigger than ever.
With a few simple changes, you can help keep America the Beautiful free of excessive waste and pollution. Check out our tips for letting freedom ring while keeping it green!
Reuse your decorations.
Have flags left over from Memorial Day? White Christmas lights in the attic? Get ‘em out! Instead of spending extra money and buying more items intended for single-use, why not reuse across holidays? If your festivities are in need of a serious patriotic face lift, buy items designed for reuse and plan to create a Fourth of July box of decor to keep for many years to come.
Swap out the plastics for reusable material.
This holiday is notorious for its plastic everything, particularly when it comes to eating, but we’re long past the days that this should be the norm. Many great products have come out designed for easy use, portability, and sustainability in the world of food storage and consumption. On the go this year? Our friends over at Rigwa may just be your lifesavers with reusable utensils and containers that help keep your food either hot or cold for long periods of time. Hosting at your house? It may be a hassle, but using your own utensils and dishware is better for the environment. Alternatively, if having to do a ton of dishes sounds like your worst nightmare, grab biodegradable products that can be composted to produce top quality soil and fertilizer!
A vegan or vegetarian menu helps seriously cut down on harmful emissions. Plus, there’s great options from the Impossible to the Beyond brand offering meat alternatives that taste like the real deal and are widely available at grocery stores across the country. Grill them just the same and add all of your favorite condiments and fixins to go with it. If you don’t think you can stay away from the beef and pork products, opt for picking up fresh, local meat from your farmer’s market. While you’re there, pick up some fresh fruit and veggies to complete the meal and lower your carbon footprint.
Use natural bug spray and sunscreen.
If you’re planning to spend much of the day outside, you may be dreading what feels like an inevitable sunburn or many mosquito bites (or both - we’ve been there). Never fear, there’s an eco-friendly solution there as well! We have to protect our skin, just like we have to protect our eyes with shades, but we don’t have to harm the environment while we do it. For years, commercial sunscreens have been affecting marine life due to harmful ingredients. There are now many sunscreen options that don’t have this impact. Bug spray too has had an ugly past with the environment. Spraying harmful chemicals often found in these sprays builds up. Opt for a more natural bug repellent - it still works great.
Don’t set off your own fireworks or switch to nitrogen-rich fireworks.
There’s really no need to set off your own fireworks when your community offers public displays. Not only are these displays a great way to connect with others, but they’re often in exciting and safe places, like marinas and historic parks and you don’t have to worry about noise complaints. If you’re set on setting off fireworks, you can ask for fireworks rich in nitrogen - they burn without producing harmful smoke and even offer better color quality.
Volunteer for a beach or neighborhood clean up.
The Fourth of July may only be one day, but the mess left behind can leave lasting damage. Join a local organization to pick up trash and the remnants of fireworks to help keep your local area free from pollutants. You have the power to reduce the impact of plastic and pollution from sea to shining sea!
Our friends at the Surfrider Foundation frequently host beach cleanups throughout the year and the beach often takes one of the largest hits following the party. If you’re in Charleston, join us July 19 at 5:30 p.m. on Isle of Palms as we help them clean one of our busiest beaches.
You can make a real difference this year even just implementing one of these practices. We hope you have a great and sustainable Fourth of July! (Don’t forget your floating shades!)