How to Have an Eco-Friendly Fourth of July

Oh say can you see — all that single use plastic? 

Put down the 100 pack of plastic cups, plastic plates and plasticware for your Fourth of July picnic. This year, we’re going to party like it’s actually 1776 (when plastic didn’t exist) and implement some sustainable changes for America’s Independence Day.

Every year, the Fourth of July makes an impact on the environment — creating a serious spike in air pollution — and adding plastics to a landfill certainly doesn’t help. But some simple swaps can help keep America (and the Earth) free of excess waste.

Celebrate your favorite colors, red, white, blue and green by following our top tips for an eco-friendly Fourth of July.

Swap out the plastics for recyclable or reusable material.
Whether you’re inviting people over or headed out to watch the fireworks over the lake, swap out those “essential” plastics for reusable materials, like beeswrap instead of cling wrap or plastic baggies. Pack your own utensils instead of buying single-use items, try paper straws instead of plastic ones and pack reusable water bottles to go! Keep in mind you can’t recycle paper plates that have any remaining food or grease on them. And you should always bring your own trash bags to separate recycling from waste.

Shop locally, like at a farmers market, for a fresher (and greener) meal.
While the grocery stores run out of your standard hot dogs and hamburgers, head to the farmers market for some fresh meats and produce. You’ll support your fellow patriots, and come away with something tasty. Want to take it a step further? A vegan or vegetarian menu helps cut down on harmful emissions, so challenge yourself to turn a staple Fourth of July entree into something good for you and the environment.

Use gas instead of charcoal while grilling.
When you use charcoal while cooking, you’re emitting up to 11 pounds of carbon dioxide per session into the environment. That’s pretty significant compared to using gas, which has only a third of the carbon footprint of a charcoal grill. Switching to natural gas can make a big difference, but if you can’t, doing some simple maintenance can help as well. Cleaning your grill regularly, for example, helps eliminate unnecessary smoke. And using natural lighter fluids can help limit the amount of chemicals you release into the air.

Switch to LED light up toys instead of sparklers and fireworks.
If you were to look up the Fourth of July, we’re pretty sure it’d include “fireworks” in the definition. But fireworks burn quickly, brightly and unsustainably. Instead of lighting one sparkler at a time, try some flame-free alternatives that are safer for kids and better for the Earth. Glowsticks, pinatas, bubbles, LED lights, noisemakers and colorful lasers are all ways you can still celebrate and have fun.

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 keep America beautiful and pollution-free. Help make sure that no one sees plastic or pollution from sea to shining sea!

Spread the word about sustainability!
There was once a time when our nation’s bird, the bald eagle, was listed as an endangered species. That didn’t change until our country came together to make a difference. Celebrate Independence Day in the same spirit it came to be, by joining with your fellow patriots to create a better, greener country. Talk to your friends and family about our tips to keep our country free of waste. Following just one of these tips can still make a difference!


Have a great, and eco-friendly Fourth of July!

Looking for other ways to let freedom ring? Check out our post on unique Fourth of July gear and goods to help you celebrate.


*Thank you to our friends @troopcrossland843 and Photographer @dananorton