This year, with increased awareness of the dangers of perchlorates in fireworks displays, people are wondering what they can do to make the 4th of July more eco-friendly. Here are ten tips to help you get started.
1. About the perchlorates issue: Yes, fireworks contain perchlorates, which are toxic and have been linked to a host of health issues, especially when they get into the drinking water supply. If your local fireworks are exploded over fresh water bodies, such as small lakes or rivers full of fish, you may want to have a talk with your local authorities. I’m checking this out now and once I hear back from some experts, I’ll share the latest with you. There are “green, eco-friendly” fireworks in development, but none are on the market yet, at least to my knowledge.
2. Skip the plastic streamers, metal jingle jangles, and other traditional décor and look for paper decorations made of recycled stock or at least paper decorations that you can easily recycle.
3. Consider recycled paper plates. I found the ones pictured above at my local Giant store in Bethesda, Maryland, for a price comparable to regular paper plates. They’re cute and an eco-friendlier choice!
4. Running out to pick up a grill? Diane MacEachern has some great tips on solar-powered and other “green grills”at her Big Green Purse blog here.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Planning the menu? Re-think the beef. Beef is a key contributor to global warming. Can you go veggie? There are great veggie alternatives available like delicious veggie burgers, soy-based corn dogs, and of course the old staples of potato and pasta salad.
8. What’s for dessert? It’s berry season! Finally, organic strawberries and blueberries have really fallen in price. in some locales, you can still get out there and pick your own, as we did! (Just remember to bring your own container so you don’t have to use the typical plastic containers which the pick-your-own places will give you!) You can even make a red/white/blue dessert with organic strawberries and blueberries and vanilla ice cream.
9. Getting the yard spruced up? Cleaning yard chairs and looking to kill weeds? Use a simple vinegar and water mix. Want to cut the vinegar odor? Add parsley or lemon.
10. If you’re heading back home after enjoying time at the beach, you may want to check out the local farmers markets. Prices are generally cheaper there.
What are your 4th of July eco-tips? Leave a comment and share!
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