Not to be a party pooper, but I’ve never been a big fan of the Fourth of July. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a day off of work and the time with friends and family.
It’s the sound of war that surrounds the city and the haze of smoke that lingers for a few days after. It’s as far from a celebration of our country as can be. Most typical celebrations involve loads of paper plates, Styrofoam cups, lots of meat, processed foods, and chemical spewing fireworks.
This year, do it differently and show your friends and family how to have a fun Fourth, without the trash and smoke.
1. Buy local, buy organic, buy veggies. Greening up your Fourth feast is easy. Farmers’ markets are teeming with a huge variety of produce right now—take advantage. Try modifying some of the traditional eats in a more sustainable fashion. Instead of factory-farmed burgers and processed hot dogs, why not try something totally out of the box and do Portobello burgers. Marinate in some wine, balsamic vinegar, and garlic, grill, toss on a bun and you’re good to go.
Or try veggie skewers—chop up any veggies you want, brush on some marinade, grill and eat. You can have your guests help by skewering their own veggie combo depending on their tastes.
For sides, try a fruit salad, hummus, bruschetta—anything goes. And for dessert? There’s nothing more American than apple pie. But apples aren’t quite in season, so how about a berry pie?
Pies are fairly simple to make, but if you’re intimidated or don’t want to stand in a hot kitchen, order from a local bakery.
For some, the Fourth is their time to drink beer. All day! No one will judge you if you start drinking at three in the afternoon. So go for it!
Check out the local organic beer options in your town and chug away. And carpool so you don’t have to drive home.
2. All that garbage. When hosting a picnic, it can be tempting to buy a ton of the cheapest disposable plates and utensils and call it good. Try to resist—there are a couple of alternatives here.
Use your own dishes. Ask a friend or neighbor if you need back up. Or, make it clear to your guests that this will be a BYO-dishes party. You’ll provide the food, they provide the dishes. Finally, if you need the ease of disposable, buy post-consumer recycled products that are compostable.
3. Skip the home pyro show. Fireworks are pretty terrible for the environment. Most are still gunpowder-propelled and contain harmful chemicals and toxins. Not to mention the trash and debris that comes with fireworks.
While some greener fireworks options are in the mix, it is still a better option to go watch your community’s fireworks show than stage one yourself.
There are tons of other activities you can do that will promote family fun time rather than worrying who will lose an eye this year.