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FOUR tips for the 4th

In honor of the quick approach of July 4th, here are FOUR tips to make your holiday celebrations less wasteful and more environmentally friendly…

Stay away from single use items 

We all know that single use items are the epitome of wastefulness, ESPECIALLY during the holiday season. I know you probably get tired of hearing it, and trust, we environmentalists get tired of saying it, but this year around we have GOT to nix the use of wasteful single use items and replace them with reusable ones. Trust me — someone will volunteer to do the dishes — the world will not end. 

That starts us on our first point, getting rid of plastic cups, silverware, and plates. There are and have always been so many effective alternatives to these party regulars, and yet still, we continue to use them. This coming holiday, I challenge you to use common household eating ware or screw it, even your own hands. Just try to reduce your effect on the planet by using wasteful products. If you simply cannot make this happen and MUST use a single use item, get something that is recyclable like paper plates so that at the very least, you aren’t contributing to our ever growing landfills. 

Another big factor in reducing useless waste this coming holiday is being conscious of the packaging that you are buying things in. We can’t stop everyone from buying things with harmful packaging, but what we can do is make an effort to reduce it by not buying it ourselves. If you see a brand that utilizes eco-friendly packaging or packaging that can be recycled or completely decomposed, go for that brand other than the one who will inevitably pollute the Earth. Just be mindful of what you will be bringing into your home, and then eventually taking out of it. Having big 4th of July parties without the usual cheap, decorated plates and napkins might seem tough or even a little un-festive, but it will pay off in the long run. 

Thrift your outfit, or even make it yourself

Listen, I realize that not everybody has an artistic touch, but if you are truly dedicated to being eco-friendly, it may be worth your while this summer to start attempting to make your own clothes. Whether it be from little scraps that you sew together, a crocheted top, or even a knitted pair of shorts, get creative and get out of your comfort zone. I know that it’s easy and comfortable to go to a store, or better yet get online, and find the perfect red, white, and blue, outfit for the day, but trust me, not only will the homemade outfit bring so much more satisfaction and joy, but it will more than likely be better quality than what you are purchasing, ESPECIALLY if it is fast fashion. 

This leads into another option for those of us who aren’t as artistic: thrifting! This is one of my absolute FAVORITE things to do and it’s crazy how many gems you can find in the things that people donate or throw out. Thrifting or even upcycling is a way to break the cycle of fast fashion, which we spend too much money on, for low quality products, and even products that threaten to harm the environment. If you don’t think you can make your own outfit, trust me, it will be worth your while — and your money — to find a local thrift shop in your area and give it a go. You can also get double the amount of clothes for nearly the same price which is a total steal. Either way, don’t resort to Shein or Temu, instead take a stroll through a local thrift shop and see what you can find. 

Limit your decorations or make ones out of uncommon things

I get it, decorations can absolutely make or break a gathering, I am definitely not disagreeing with you. But I am here to tell you that there are many sustainable alternatives to the common one-time-use decorations. For example, it is SO easy to simply make a poster/banner if you are wanting one. If you make your own banner, not only will it give you — or your helper — something to do, but it is also easily reusable for next year, or always recyclable if nothing else. Additionally, red, white, and blue are not hard colors to come by. Just think about it. How many times a day do you see those colors? To spice up the party it's always a good idea to cut up and throw together some fresh watermelon and strawberries to add that perfect pop of red, and then throw some blueberries in a nearby bowl to accommodate the party theme. These are just a few examples of how to sustainably create decorations that won't be wasted at the end of the evening. There are many more things you can do to make the perfect setting for your gathering, just remember, if you can’t DIY it, try to make sure it can either be reused or recycled. 

Say no to fireworks

Okay, now this is the hard one. I understand that for years and years people have celebrated the 4th by popping firework after firework in order to symbolize the independence of our country. But y’all. These fireworks are SO wasteful and detrimental to the environment, ESPECIALLY if you are popping them near any sort of water. Every year on July 4th, fireworks produce over 60,000 tons of carbon emissions which equates to the total emissions of 12,000 cars annually. In a singular night, enough carbon emissions to equate to a year's worth of car emissions is produced. This is a staggering statistic that most people fail to realize when celebrating the holiday. Fireworks cause extensive air pollution by leaving metal particles, toxins, harmful chemicals, and smoke in the air for days after the event takes place. Safe to say, fireworks are definitely not the way to go. 

Now, if you absolutely cannot go through the 4th without a firework show, the next solution is to go watch a local show and reduce at least a few emissions by just admiring from afar. The less people that participate, the more pollution is reduced. If this still doesn’t sound appealing to you, one final tip is to get eco-friendly fireworks. Yes, they do exist. These fireworks produce much less smoke and need substantially less metal salts to produce the luminous pops of color that we all love to see. While these things may not always be ideal, it is better to protect our environment now than have to reap the consequences later.


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