The Fourth of July is probably the most epic of the summer barbecue parties. Labor Day and Memorial Day are great bookends to the summer but they lack the same pomp, the same excitement, and the same proximity to fireworks! But nobody ever said epic about a party and envisioned sustainability. In fact, we’re guessing you imagine what we do – plastic cups strewn everywhere, plates with half-eaten burgers or hot dogs stacked on top of each other, napkins blowing in the wind, watermelon rinds in the grass, the remnants of metal sparklers littering the curbside – it’s not a pretty picture.
But in our changing world, where being a parent means finding the subtle apex where what’s best for our children intersects with what’s best for the planet AND what fits into our long, laundry list of to-do’s and what’s feasible...we do what we can. The Zero Waste Chef Anne Marie Bonneau said it best, “we don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” So we’re here to help you with a few ways you can have a successful party without feeling like you filled as many trash bags as your family would generally use in a week.
- Do Dishware Differently: If you typically use single-use plastic plates, consider reusable ones, or switching to paper or better yet, bamboo. Same goes for cups and cutlery – try to work in a new eco-friendlier alternative, whatever level you’re at. And if your party is small enough and your youngest guests are old enough, maybe even use real dishes. Just be sure your dishwasher is empty before the party begins!
- Swap Your Sparklers: We love fireworks, we also know they leave potassium perchlorate and cerium nitrate in the atmosphere and that those chemicals are not friendly to our earth. You can switch out your traditional metal sparklers (which can’t be recycled due to chemical residue) for gold bamboo sparklers, the gold ones produce fewer chemicals and the bamboo is biodegradable!
- Better Yet, See a Show(!): If you want to make the biggest impact, eliminate your own personal firework footprint and go to a fireworks display in your local area!
Whatever you do, be safe and well. Happy fourth!