Wednesday, June 29, 2011

GREEN your 4th of July Festivities!

I saw this great article in Greenzer and thought it was spot on so I wanted to share it here:

Green Independence Day

Green Independence Day
This 4th of July, get out your red, white, blue… and green. While you’re celebrating your country and your freedom, support its sustainability and independence by being eco-conscious and reducing your dependence on environmentally-impactful activities. Lady Liberty herself would probably be grimacing a bit, if she could, at the wafting smoke of over 60 million barbecues lighting up up to roast about 150 million hot dogs and about 890 million pounds of chicken and red meat.

Whether it’s the carbon effects of the grilling, the resource-draining facts about meat or a myriad of other concerns like disposable plastic ware, the fact is that your festivities on the 4th aren’t easy on the earth. But we’re not here to rain on your patriotic party, rather, to tell you it’s possible to celebrate green. After all, shouldn’t finding sustainable, earth-friendly ways to live our lives be what America is all about?

1.  Get Greener With Your Grilling

Grilling is hardly a green activity. It means releasing loads of smoke (sometimes of the questionable chemical variety, i.e. certain charcoals) into our air and, quite literally, burns up resources. It’s estimated that Americans using their grills on Independence Day will equal out to burning about 2,300 acres of forest. Takes a little of the fun out of barbecuing, doesn’t it? Before you toss in the tongs, know that natural gas barbecues are notably better in terms of energy and that you can even buy organic or natural charcoal lumps in lieu of traditional ones (you can read more on greener grilling in our Guide to Grilling Green.

2.  Pass on Plastics

The facts of disposable plastic goods aren’t pretty: They can remain in the environment for hundreds of years, can suck up crude oil in their creation and often end up littering beaches and parks. In Santa Monica, they’ve taken a stand against the problem by banning non-recyclable plastic food containers for all food providers. Why not consider yourself a Santa Monica food-provider for this 4th of July and choose another option like bamboo plates or recycled plastic cutlery and cups (not to mention reusable dishes, if you have enough). There are even aesthetic benefits, as these greener disposables look infinitely better than those flimsy Styrofoam options. Just remember to keep recycling bins available for cans, recycled plastic wares and the like.

3. Lighten Up Your Fireworks

Few things have such excitement, romance and festivity as fireworks. Likewise, few things we use spew gunpowder, heavy metals and accelerants into our air. Creating war zone-esque air quality is a pretty big price to pay for the prettiness of a dazzling fireworks show. How can you help keep the atmosphere clean? Avoid doing fireworks at home. If you want to take part, watch a nearby show. To make a bigger dent in the problem, talk to your city officials about more earth-friendly fireworks methods (like the compressed air technique now used at Disney).

4. Revamp Your 4th of July Menu

When you get to the grocery store to shop for your 4th celebration, skip the packages of mysteriously hot-pink-colored hot dogs and head for greener pastures: local organic food . Not only will they mean no harsh chemicals going into the earth and less resources being used in transportation, they’ll taste much, much better. Balance your meat dishes, if you have them, with more sustainable vegetable-based items. And don’t overlook drinks. There are an increasing number of organic options available for beer and wine; ideally, check your local brewery or winery first to see if they have such offerings. If you’re going to be firing up the grill (with organic charcoals or natural gas, right?) to barbecue some American classics like chicken and ribs, seek out free range meats and poultries, which are more humane and often better tasting.

5. Team Up

At America’s beginning, a lot rested on people helping each other out (without the Native American Indians, would we have even made it to Independence Day?). Apply this concept to your 4th of July. Plan a group gathering, preferably at a location close to all attending, to limit the use of outside resources and maximize the use of inside resources. This can mean one grill where four would have been burning or reusable dishes in lieu of disposable (if everybody brings a few). If you’re hesitant about the potentially higher cost of organic foods, having a pot luck-style feast where everyone brings a dish will provide a range of environmentally-friendly foods for everyone — without breaking the bank of any one individual.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips - and those veggie kebobs look so good!


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