Red, White, Blue & GREEN

I LOVE Independence Day! I am always reminded of how fortunate I am to live in the United States of America - and the incredible sacrifices made by this country’s founders and all the men and women who continue to serve in our Armed Forces every day since.


I love the celebrations, parades and the firework displays, but as I get older and more conscious I am taking a closer look at the wastefulness that can be a part of all of those things. As I attempt to make my own changes I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some ideas and hopefully make a little less of a negative impact in this years celebrations.


What would the 4th of July be without parties? Food, fun, family & friends - there is nothing better! But the paper and plastic waste that is created in these celebrations is astounding and devastating to our planet. Plastic cups, utensils and plates are not recyclable and wind up filling up our landfills and national holidays account for some of the highest numbers of waste produced each year. How can we help prevent that?


Choose to Reuse:

When you attend your bbq bring and store food in reusable containers. Make sure to recycle cans and bottles. In recent years companies have introduced biodegradable dishes and cutlery. Today they are easily accessible and reasonably priced - and even if they weren't I believe they are worth the investment when you consider the space saved in landfills. 


Greener Grilling:

Propane actually produces about half the emissions of generic charcoals so it is definitely a greener option. There are some green-ish charcoals on the market. I’m not an expert but this article offers some guidance.


Greener Food Choices:

Shop local - eat plants! The production of meat is one of the largest causes of adverse affects to the environment. On holidays where grilling is commonplace 190 million pounds of red meat can be consumed. According to this article - that’s not including the poultry and hot dogs.  Considering that one 1150 lb steer typically yields only about 568 lbs of retail beef it takes a lot of livestock to make up that 190 million pounds. When you include the amount of water, land and feed it takes to raise one steer to slaughter an enormous amount of natural resources are involved. Consider grilling plant based foods instead that require much less natural resources to grow and harvest than animal products.



Use reusable flags and decorations when you celebrate. Skip the disposables and instead purchase reusable decorations and store them for the next year. Also avoid purchasing the battery powered light-up bling available. Batteries contain chemicals that are toxic to the environment and humans and are better left alone.



Unfortunately, fireworks are beautiful yet bad for the environment. (See this) Yet, it's a big ask to suggest that Americans refrain from partaking in such a longstanding tradition on the fourth of July. Instead of opting out of fireworks displays we can make a positive impact on the environment by not purchasing and igniting our own fireworks. Choose to go to your local fireworks display (walk if possible). Carpool with friends and make an event of it instead of bringing fireworks home. This is a safer option as well as fireworks injuries account for staggering amounts of emergency room visits on the fourth of July weekends and more than 7 deaths per year. Choose a safer and greener option by attending organized fireworks displays and leave the explosions to the professionals.


These are just a few simple ideas aimed at making more conscious choices. How are you celebrating this year? Will this inspire you to make some greener choices?


Happy Independence Day!


Tina Kempa