Green Tips: Fourth of July

Green Tips | June 27, 2019

The Fourth of July is coming up! This year, celebrate big but without a big carbon footprint. Consider some of our tips on enjoying Independence Day in a sustainable way.

Greener barbeques: On the Fourth of July, 60 million people in the United States head outside to barbeque. Traditional charcoal grills increase emissions and air pollution. Consider switching to natural gas or buying an electric grill, both of which produce fewer emissions. If you are barbecuing for an hour, using charcoal produces 11 pounds of carbon, whereas using natural gas only produces 5.6 pounds of carbon. If you are using an electric grill, they become even more sustainable when they run on renewable electricity

Opt for vegetarian alternatives: While Fourth of July meals traditionally consist of hot dogs and hamburgers, consider vegetarian options this year. The meat industry, in the United States alone, produces 574 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. In addition to being a more environmentally-friendly option, reducing your meat-intake also has numerous health benefits. There are some great vegetarian and vegan recipes that will make the transition even easier.

Leave your car behind: The average passenger car releases around 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Whether you’re spending the day in a park or heading to a party, choose a different mode of transportation to get to where you’re going. You can walk, bike, or take public transportation instead of driving. If you have to take a car, try to carpool with friends. To reduce your travel time, search for the closest park to you. 

Minimize food waste: Food takes up more space in American landfills than anything else, and we throw away 25% of the food we buy in New York State. Food waste is part of the 4.5 pounds of waste per person produced in New York every day. If you are throwing a party, make sure to plan accordingly. By confirming how many guests will be there ahead of time, you will know how much food to buy and can reduce your waste. If you have food scraps try composting instead of throwing them away. You can find a compost facility nearest to you, or start composting at home.

Firework displays: Fireworks are a big part of Fourth of July celebrations. While most fireworks are illegal in New York, sparklers are still allowed in some counties. Unfortunately, they are also a major source of pollution and cause a spike in air pollution each year. Instead of having your own, watch the closest firework display in your town or city. If you want to put on a display of your own, consider alternatives to fireworks and sparklers, such as laser shows

Reduce plastic waste: New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags each year. Take this holiday as an opportunity to start reducing your contribution to plastic pollution. As you take a trip to the grocery store, make sure to bring your own reusable tote bags. There are plenty of options that you can take with you every time you go shopping. This also applies to disposable items for your party or picnic. Instead, use reusable plates, cups, and utensils from home. If you don’t want to do the dishes and prefer something disposable, go for the biodegradable options. Read more about reducing plastic use in our previous Green Tips here.

Keep your decorations for next year: Another way to avoid waste is by storing your party decorations for next year. If you still have decorations from last year, use them instead of buying new ones. On top of reducing waste, it is also a good way to avoid spending on new items every year.  

< Back to Citizen’s Toolkit

Get Involved