Although we typically think red, white and blue in July, here are a few suggestions that can make your Fourth of July holiday celebration a little greener, healthier and happier.
1. Try forgetting the disposable party ware this year- plates, cups, napkins and silverware. Use real plates and tableware. You could even set a fun table if you asked friends and family to bring their own plate to have a fun mash-up of tableware. You can purchase inexpensive reusable cloth napkins. Or ,try replacing just one of two of the traditional tableware items.
2. Carpool together to see the fireworks or take public transportation depending on where you are travelling. Or if it's nearby, leave a little early and have your group take a nice stroll to the park, or wherever you usually go for firework viewing.
3. Save and reuse those red, white and blue decorations from year-to-year. If you are shopping for decorations, consider visiting a resale shop to see what they have available. Your pocketbook will thank you too. Remember the 2nd R - Reuse!
4. Gas vs. Charcoal grilling: The debate goes on. This is a tough one and there are many opinions, so I'll just provide some facts here. Gas is cleaner and more energy efficient, but it does come from non-renewable fossil fuels. However, it generates only about half of the carbon emissions that charcoal grilling does, is cleaner and more energy efficient in production and cooking. Charcoal is dirtier, but comes from renewable resources. If you choose to use charcoal, you can buy true, lump charcoal which is healthier for you and the planet at local health food and home improvement stores. Use a chimney starter and you can avoid the chemicals that the regular charcoal briquettes tend to have.
5. Use solar powered lights and décor.
6. Purchase party food locally or from a nearby Farmer's Market. You can visit farmersmarketonline.com or other sites to find one near you.
7. Try an organic wine or beer. There are many that can be found today in grocery and liquor stores. It's also a great opportunity to check out all the establishments here in the region that carry local and organic brews.
8. Recycle everything you can - it does make a difference and is closely connected to, and impacts water, energy, habitat and wildlife conservation. You can recycle more than ever before in your curbside bin here in Lake County, Illinois, including all hard, rigid plastics and more. Visit swalco.org for a current list of recycling guidelines and a list of what can be recycled.
This article was written by Merleanne Rampale, Public Information and Education Director for SWALCO. For more information on recycling or living a more environmentally friendly and sustainable life, contact Merleanne Rampale at firstname.lastname@example.org. or visit swalco.org.