• Green Iowa AmeriCorps

Celebrate the Red, White, and Blue by Going Green: Tips for a Sustainable Fourth of July

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

By Kate Kemper

The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate the USA- from barbecues and fireworks to apple pie and camping, there’s so many fun ways to celebrate Independence Day! This year, consider taking some steps to make your celebration sustainable by adopting some of these practices:

  1. Clean Up After Yourself: If you are out camping or picnicking over the Fourth, make sure to leave with everything you brought. Litter is a threat to wildlife and has a number of environmental impacts, so make sure not to add to that!

  2. Ditch Single-Use Plastic: While plastic bottles and throwaway dishes may be easier to clean up after a BBQ, reusable versions are much more eco-friendly! They can also be used year after year, which saves money and resources in the long-term! If reusable dishes aren’t an option, try compostable items made from corn or bamboo!

  3. Decorate Strategically: Use things you already have to decorate, such as white or red holiday string lights and flowers from your garden, rather than buying new decorations. If you do decide to buy decorations, check thrift stores first. Save any decorations you do buy for next year!

  4. Eat Your Greens: We love our hot dogs and burgers, but it’s no surprise that eating fruits and veggies is better for the environment. Give salads and veggie skewers a place on the table, give your plate some patriotic flare by adding colorful fruits, and buy things like chips in bulk rather than in individual packs!

  5. Grill Smarter: Outdoor grills are powered by different energy sources- coal, gas, and electricity. Gas and electric grills are much more efficient and environmentally friendly than coal ones. Give grilling over the open fire a try, or if you’re in the market for a new grill, look for eco-friendly options!

  6. Get Outside: The Fourth of July is a perfect time to enjoy nature and get out of the house. Turn off the TV, put on some sunscreen, and go for a hike or play yard games instead! If you’re going to a neighborhood or community barbeque, reduce your carbon footprint by walking, biking, or carpooling with a friend!

  7. Community Counts: Rather than setting up your own personal fireworks display, attend a local display instead! If you know your local firework coordinators, ask them to consider using biodegradable or gunpowder-free fireworks. You can also skip the fireworks altogether in favor of a simple bonfire with s’mores!

From all of us at Green Iowa AmeriCorps, have a happy (and green) Fourth of July!

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University of Northern Iowa
CEEE 109
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0293

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