Grill More Plants
July 4th is often synonymous with grilling hot dogs. In fact, it's estimated that Americans will grill over 150 million hot dogs over the 4th of July weekend. The livestock farming required to produce all the meat we eat takes a toll on the environment. Rather than having a meat-focused cookout this year, switch to plant-based alternatives such as veggie burgers and fresh vegetable skewers. Find some great recipes here.
Green the Grill
If you have a charcoal grill, try natural lump charcoal instead of briquets, available at many home improvement stores. Lump charcoal doesn't contain additives that can emit pollution when burned. Gas grills are a better choice as they produce far less carbon dioxide and are more energy-efficient, with a natural gas grill being the most environmentally friendly option.
Put Down the Fireworks
The EPA estimates that Americans will set off over 268 million pounds of fireworks on July 4th. That's a lot of packaging that ends up in lanfills on July 5th. Plus fireworks can cause a spike in air pollution. One study in the Atmospheric Environment Journal found that the level of particulate matter present in the air is 42% higher on July 4th across the U.S.
Avoid purchasing new decorations that are often made from plastic and will go straight to the landfill. Instead, use what you already have to decorate such as festive tablecloths or string lights from the winter holidays. You can also incorporate natural decorations such as flowers, potted plants or a bowl of ripe fruit.
Buy fruits, vegetables and other foods from your local farmer's market or CSA. Not only will you be supporting local farmers, you'll also be reducing your carbon footprint by cutting down on the distance your food needs to travel to reach you. Don't know if you have a local farmer's market? check the USDA website to find one near you.
Divert Your Waste
Set up proper waste bins ahead of time so waste can be safely collected and easily sorted. Make sure your bins are clearly labeled for compost, recycling and trash so there's no confusion.
Keep hand sanitizer out for all to use and ask everyone to have a mask handy. Always clean your hands before you handle food and consider wearing a mask when you're not eating.
Not Sharing is Caring
With the threat of COVID-19, it's best not to share any foods or drinks at this time. Rather than serving the food family-style, bring your own appetizers and side dishes. If you're grilling meat or veggies, take your food directly off the grill rather than using a serving platter and sharing.
Stay Outdoors & Practice Social Distancing
Celebrate July 4th and the warm summer season outdoors. Try a socially distanced picnic or barbecue at a local park. Just make sure to set your blankets six feet apart and always practice social distancing even if you're outside. For perspective, six feet is about the distance of two large dogs standing nose to tail.