The 4th of July weekend is here! It’s a weekend of reflection, celebration, and a great excuse for a BBQ!
There are many eco-friendly ways to make the holiday more sustainable. To get you started here are 5 quick tips to make your day of red, white, and blue a little more green.
#1: Think Reusable – Not Disposable
If you will be celebrating the 4th of July at home, choose reusable dinnerware instead of the disposable kind. It will only take a few minutes more to load them into the dishwasher and will save the environment a lot! Consider a great recyclable or compostable alternative if reusable simply isn’t an option. #2: Get it from the Garden
The 4th of July is the perfect time to share the abundance of goodies from your garden with the neighbors. Instead of letting all of those zucchinis and cucumbers go to waste, invite your family and friends over for a vegetarian BBQ and encourage them to bring a vegetarian dish to share – skip the meat and the environment will smile.
#3: Entertain the Kids with Nature Crafts
You don’t have to purchase anything new to entertain the kiddos on the 4th of July, instead, encourage them to create their own to make their own recycled lava lamps, succulent gardens with paint-dipped dinosaurs, or organic pine cone bird feeders. These activities will keep them busy all day long! Other fun options include encouraging them to have a bicycle parade around the neighborhood or a watermelon eating contest.
Instead of purchasing fireworks that only last a few seconds and create pounds of toxic garbage – visit your local park or beach for the community firework show. They are going to shoot the fireworks off anyways, you may as well enjoy the show.
How will you add a little green to your 4th of July celebration?
There are many ways to make your home more sustainable this spring and summer. You can remodel using eco-friendly materials and appliances, grow native plants, cook more food at home, cool your home without using the AC all the time, and upgrade appliances. Below are some ways to make these changes.
Remodel Using Eco-Friendly Options
Did you know that over 10 million kitchens are remodeled every year? When you decide to remodel your kitchen, look for Energy Star appliances rated for saving water and energy. Use sustainable materials for your cabinets, countertops, and backsplashes. Wood, stone, and tile are all materials that are natural and recyclable. Use wood materials free of toxic materials in your home. Install low-flow faucets in your sinks because they reduce water usage by about 30%. Paint your walls with paint and finishes that are low in VOC or harmful chemicals. These paints are safer for your whole family. Visit antique stores and salvage shops near you to find furniture, accessories, outdoor fixtures, crafts, and art you can put in your home.
Choose Native Plants To Grow in Your Garden
Native plants grow best and adapt to your geographic area better than other plants. They are often easy to care for and you can find them at your local garden center. You can purchase native flowers, vegetables, and herbs already growing and transplant them into your garden. Native plants will attract birds, butterflies, bees, and local wildlife. These plants provide food for local wildlife to help them survive. Finding out about native plants means visiting your local garden center or clubs to learn what is grown locally. These plants will save you money and are usually easier to maintain.
Make More Food Products at Home
Start by buying a sheet pan and parchment paper to cook more fresh vegetables for your meals. Wash and cut the carrots, potatoes, squash, peppers, cabbage, add olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven. Roast at 350 or higher for 20 to 30 minutes. The vegetables should be soft and slightly browned and you can roast them individually or mix them. Learn to saute greens, spinach, swiss chard, or cabbage. Look for recipes and follow instructions. Rice is easy to make in the microwave and is a great side dish with meats, seafood, stir fry, and stews. Learn to use beans in chili and soup recipes. They add protein, vitamins, and nutrients to meals. Try whole wheat or gluten-free pasta they have more nutrition than white pasta.
Prepare more food at home and skip frozen and prepared dinners. Over the last 7,000 years, people have fermented plants and grains to make alcohol. Learn to make healthier meals and cut down on alcohol, as too much is bad for your health. Other easy recipes to prepare at home are pasta dishes, homemade salad dressings, sandwiches, eggs, salads, and sauces. Start with simple recipes with fewer ingredients when learning to cook new dishes.
How to Cool Your Home Without AC
You might want to cut down on using your air conditioner and find ways to cool your house without it. Place box fans in the windows to run at night or a ceiling fan to make your air conditioner more efficient. Many evenings you will find the ceiling fan cools the room enough so you do not need air conditioning. Use cotton or bamboo sheets that breathe and do not trap heat and moisture. Open the window and slider door in the late evening and let some cool air come in. Shut shutters, blinds, and shades during the day to keep heat and the sun out. Wear comfortable lightweight clothing at home; shorts, tee shirts, and comfortable shoes. Try taking a cold bath or shower before going to bed. Cook meals outside on the grill or prepare early in the morning when it is cooler.
Update Older Appliances and Features
Did you know that 85% of the homes in the US were built before 1980 and need improvement and updates? Start slowly to replace old appliances with new models one at a time. Look for Energy Star appliances that save money on water and electricity. Buy a smaller-sized refrigerator or a dishwasher that saves on water when you wash dishes. Buy sustainable products for flooring or wood paneling or even recycled materials that can be reused. Install low-flow faucets and a shower head to save on water use or use LED lightbulbs to save energy. Paint your cabinets or stain them instead of installing new ones.
Finding ways to make your home more eco-friendly and sustainable will improve your health and make it more comfortable to live in.
Happy Independence Day Weekend! The 4th of July is one of my personal favorite holidays, with BBQ’s, family, community, fairs, farmer’s markets, and fireworks to enjoy—not to mention that good old patriotic feeling. There are a lot of great, green ways to celebrate this year, but I’ve chosen four because, well, you know!
Get Outside Getting outdoors with the family instead of hanging around inside and running the AC is a great way to start greening your 4th. Since Independence Day is America’s holiday sweetheart, there should be no shortage of activities for you and your family to participate in, from historical tours and live music to farmer’s markets and pick-your-own berry patches. If you live near water or natural open, go for a swim or take a scenic walk or bike ride. Don’t forget to use DEET-free insect repellant! I personally like to use child-safe, non-toxic Bug Bam Mosquito Bands, and this DIY mosquito repellant.
Slather on Eco-friendly, Safe Sunscreen Hopefully, you’ve got plans to hit the beach, the trail, or the farmer’s market this 4th. If you’ll be outside (and especially if you’re taking little ones along), make sure to wear hats and shades and use plenty of sunscreens. The Environmental Working Group’s 2020 Best Sunscreens page lists over 100 safe sunscreens including baby, waterproof, and sport sunscreens. Don’t forget to reapply!
Pack a Zero Waste Picnic If you’re setting up camp somewhere to wait for the fireworks show to start, eliminate waste and save some cash by skipping food vendors and disposable eating ware and bringing your own zero-waste picnic. You can start by packing locally sourced fruits, veggies, cheeses, and beer or wine (bottles are recycle-able!) and bringing your own water in reusable bottles. Instead of plastic and paper eating ware, pack cloth napkins and compostable plates, silverware, and cups. If you don’t have a long haul or want to go super-green, pack reusable glasses, silverware, and plates.
View Fireworks from a Natural Setting The last year I lived in Boulder my husband and I skipped the impressive, grandiose fireworks and sing-a-long event at the University of Colorado’s Folsom Field in favor of a quieter, more intimate viewing experience with friends. We packed some drinks and snacks, hiked up into the foothills, and joined other groups wanting to celebrate from a distance. The evening (and later nighttime, flashlight-lit) hike was magical, allowing us to take in the full beauty of our town and appreciate this lovely country we call home. Since we were far enough away that we couldn’t hear the explosions of the fireworks, our group of friends was able to converse and enjoy each other’s company to the fullest. Even if you don’t have a beautiful natural setting to enjoy the 4th from, you can cut down on waste and pollution by not lighting off-street fireworks and enjoying a larger display with a giant group, instead.
Have a safe, green, and happy Independence Day! How are you celebrating?