July 4th is one of the best days of the year – cookouts and fireworks abound, and everyone has a great time celebrating our country. A lot of Arlingtonians go on vacation, but many staying in town celebrate at friends’ parties that can create a lot of waste. But it doesn’t mean that it has to be a post-consumer nightmare!
- BYOC – Bring Your Own Cup – Bring you own unique cup for your drinks. Just think of the number of plastic red cups you will save from landfills. It’s a great way to make a fashion statement. Have fun with it.
- Watch fireworks rather than blow your own up. Fireworks end up our waterways through stormwater and in our waste stream. Let someone else set them off and enjoy the show.
- Instead of buying packaged food for your party, just make your own finger foods and use your own containers to hold them in. Besides, some of the best dips and sauces are homemade anyway! Also bring your own silverware to the party to reduce the use of plastic forks, knives, and spoons.
- For the party fare, hit your local Farmer’s Market. The food is fresh and local. What a winning combination that is.
- There’s no better way to celebrate throwing off the shackles of tyranny than by throwing back a few cold ones, so stock the cooler with some independently brewed local suds, like D.C. Brau
- Filling up a few jugs of water is also a great way to discourage bottled water use, and to keep everyone adequately hydrated for the festivities.
- On the Fourth of July alone, an estimated 60 million barbecues light up nationwide, consuming enough energy to power 20,000 households for an entire year. But who says you need to give up your hot dogs and steak in order to be an environmentalist? Use a natural gas or infrared grill instead of dirty-burning charcoal. Avoid chrome-coated aluminum grills and instead opt for steel or cast iron (my favorite). Also, go with a smaller grill, as they take less energy to heat up.
- One is the Loneliest Number (and the least green): Carpool, transit, bike, walk, and stay close to home. Go to big local celebrations instead of having your own.
And remember to have a safe and happy 4th of July!