My Top 10 Tips for a “Green” Labor Day Weekend (And Don’t Forget the Laborers, esp. The Freelancers!)

September 3rd, 2010

Every year, my Labor Day post focuses on eco-friendly tips, but never before have I blogged about the real meaning of Labor Day. So this Labor Day, I’m adding a plea that you think about the many people – contract workers, freelancers, bloggers, writers, and others – who work hard but often don’t get paid for their labors.   As Crain’s New York Business reported this week, “the seemingly simple process of getting paid has emerged as the No. 1 problem facing self-employed workers.”   If you’re someone who works with self-employed people, or if you are one yourself, I urge you to read “Ugh: The Free in Freelance” and to check out the campaign run by the Freelancers Union.


So this post is a little late..because I made sure to pay the independent workers I employ before putting it up. Would be a little hypocritical otherwise, wouldn’t it?

And now…on to my top 10 Tips for a “Green” Labor Day weekend.

1. Just about the first thing people think about on Labor Day is firing up the grill. This year, skip the burgers and beef hot dogs . The production of beef is a major contributor to three of the four  global warming gases   — carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane.

2. What to grill instead? How about grilling up some wild caught salmon instead of the usual beef?  If you’re at the beach, head to your local seafood shop. If you’re in my neck of the woods – MoCo near DC – check out Whole Foods fantastic saleon Marine Stewardship Council certified salmon, now $3.50 off per pound at $13.49 per pound at the Friendship Heights Whole Foods.   (And if salmon isn’t your thing, how about pasta salad, potato salad, or organic soy-based corn dogs?    Here are some other Labor Day recipe ideas).

3. Need a new grill?  My favorite  tips on solar-powered and other “green grills”are here at Diane MacEachern’s Big Green Purse blog.   And here’s a another great grilling tip courtesy of homespace – when it’s time to clean up, use good ole baking soda, water and a wire brush. Skip the commercial cleaners with their decidely un-earthfriendly chemicals!

4. If you’re still using charcoal grills, reconsider. The prices of gas grills have dropped dramatically – I’ve seen them on sale for just $95 at KMart  – and they’re a more Earth-friendly choice than charcoal.


5. If you must use charcoal, Diane MacEachern suggests using lump charcoal instead of briquettes, which may contain coal dust
and other additives. Diane says to look for hardwood briquettes from forests certified by the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program, or lumps made from coconut husks. Cow boy Charcoal, sold at Lowe’s, Trader Joe’s and under the Whole Foods 365 brand, makes chunk charcoal out of wood leftover from furniture making and construction.



Need to mow the lawn to make your yard look beautiful? Forget about conventional gas and electric mowers. Go retro with a good old fashioned push mower. Not only will you help to save the planet, you’ll get real exercise too! If you must use gas or electric, how about sharing a mower with your neighbors? (And if your little one wants to copy you, you can borrow the neighbors’ plastic mower. Yes, both mowers in this pic are borrowed! Talk about Reduce, Reuse, Refuse!)



To some folks, a party’s not a party is not a party without lights. Thankfully, there are more and more  choices for LED lights, including these patriotic red, white and blue starred LEDs I found at Strosniders Hardware.  (No, I didn’t buy them, but they’re cute, aren’t they?)

8. Consider  recycled paper plates. I found the ones pictured above  at my local Giant grocery store in Bethesda, Maryland, and I’ve also seen them at “Party City” stores. They’re priced comparable to  regular paper plates. They’re cute and an eco-friendlier choice!


9. When dusk comes, and you head inside, open the windows instead of turning on the air conditioner. You’ll save money and the environment!

10. If you’re heading back home to the big city after enjoying time at the beach, you may want to check out the local farmers markets and grocers. We pick up organic and local fruits when we are in smaller towns that enjoy a lower cost of living than our big city home town.

Have a great holiday weekend!


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