Greening Your Fourth of July

INDIANA – Many Americans will be celebrating the great red, white and blue on the Fourth of July with a backyard barbecue with family and friends. But did you know you can celebrate a green Fourth of July, too?

 Restoring the health of our planet and fighting climate change can feel a little overwhelming as an individual, but big change can start with small things in your own backyard. The Nature Conservancy shares these tips on how to make your party more eco-friendly while maintaining the fun.

 Skip The One-Use Utensils: This is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to make your party greener. The straws, plastic cups and utensils, and Styrofoam plates you’re using for one day can take up to 200 (yes, you read that right) years to break down in a landfill. Use your regular dinner plates instead, or look into getting re-usable and durable plateware for the summer. Melamine plates are a good example of fun, everyday plateware.

 Mix Up the Menu: We all know that a diverse diet is good for your health—but it’s also good for the planet. Cookout classics like hot dogs and burgers are synonymous with summertime; however, (spoiler alert: downer coming) meat – beef in particular – makes an unsurpassable contribution to the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. It also devours more land and water and causes more environmental damage than any other single food product. As such, consider mixing up the menu to include veggies and fish.

 Grilling Basics: Gas or Charcoal? There’s a clear winner here. Gas grills heat up faster, are more energy efficient, and produce far less harmful pollutants than charcoal.

 Consider Composting: Food waste that goes in a landfill creates methane, a harmful air pollutant that contribute to climate change. Consider composting table scraps (you can compost just about anything except meat) instead of dumping them in the trash. Look into compost bins if you have a yard or check in with your town or city to see if they have compost collection services.

 Have a Conversation about Climate Change: This can happen any day of the year, but as long as you’ve got a group at your backyard BBQ, why not start a climate change dialogue? It’s a daunting topic, and certainly, there are many points of view. Ask your fellow BBQ lovers how their concern for climate change today compares with their feelings 5 years ago. If their concerns have changed, ask why.  Learn from each other and enjoy an open conversation.