As July 4th steadily approaches, we begin to prepare. The day is both special and patriotic, and many celebrate it by firing up their grills, filling their coolers, and inviting friends into their backyard. Fourth of July may officially celebrate our country’s independence, but unofficially it honors those backyard BBQ pros.
Having an amazing 4th of July not only means crafting the best menu and putting up festive decor, it’s also about treating the country right. That means remembering the environment. All it takes are some small considerations to stay environmentally-friendly even while celebrating this very special day.
Planning the menu
It’s not always burgers and dogs at the July 4th BBQ. Whether you’re hosting a pot-luck or taking your grilling up a notch to a more gourmet level, where your food comes from and what you put on your menu matters.
The further your food travels to get to you, the larger the carbon footprint that item makes. You significantly reduce your food’s carbon footprint, and your own, when you buy food that comes from local sources. It’s something easy to do in the summer with all the local farmers markets that pop up.
Make sure you also check your neighborhood grocery store for locally-sourced food, especially in the produce aisles. Often, where a particular fruit of veggie came from is listed on the produce sticker or package.
You also want to check your neighborhood Stop & Shop for locally-sourced food, especially in the produce department. Stop & Shop works with more than 50 New England farms to bring in fresh fruits and veggies that don’t have to travel far to get to your table.
If you’re buying all your produce from local sources, then make sure you’re shopping sustainably when it comes to your protein. This is especially true if you’re grilling up some fish this 4th.
Buying fish from a sustainable source means no overfishing is occurring to bring the food to you. There’s no damage to the ecosystem where the fish live, and the species is able to replenish its numbers naturally.
Stop & Shop makes it a top priority to provide shoppers with sustainable seafood. All of Stop & Shop brand seafood, and the fish available in the case are 100% sustainably sourced.
Serve those veggies
Substituting out one meat dish for a platter of veggies and dip can also create a more environmentally-friendly meal. Meat and dairy production often requires a lot more resources than growing and harvesting vegetables.
It’s such a significant difference that if every American substituted in two vegetarian meals per week, we could reduce the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by over 49 billion pounds per year.
If you want to get particularly fancy, you can throw your veg, or even some fruit, onto the grill to serve as a side or dessert.
Creating the mood
It’s easy to decorate on the 4th of July since the holiday has a simple color palette. You just need to cover your backyard in red, white and blue. Thinking through your decor choices carefully though can help you avoid creating too much waste as you celebrate.
Avoid single-use plastic
There’s no way you’re going to bring out your breakable dishes for a backyard BBQ, but the materials your disposable dinnerware is made from matters. Instead of picking up plastic or Styrofoam to serve your feast on, opt for compostable options. Make sure your straws are paper, and even think about using your own silverware with paper plates to at least cut down on what you’ll throw away.
When it comes to coolers, reusable ones actually keep ice frozen longer. You’ll also get more use out of them throughout the year than you think.
Reuse last year’s decorations
If the party is always at your place on the 4th of July, you probably go big with the decorations. That’s fine, but don’t keep buying everything new each year. Purchase a large bin where you can store all your 4th of July decor during the year, and reuse it. Nobody will notice and you’ll save a little money and reduce your waste all at the same time.
Lighting the grill
Everyone has a preference for the type of grill they prefer to use, but if you’re not married to a specific method, use propane. Studies have shown that propane grills are more efficient than charcoal ones. In fact, charcoal grills produce almost three times more CO2 per use than propane.
Enjoying the fireworks
Fireworks by nature are not very environmentally-friendly. They put a lot of smoke into the atmosphere. If you can’t resist lighting a few at home, try to find fireworks rich in nitrogen. They’ll cost a little more, but fire cleaner.
The best option though is to go see a local fireworks display already planned. This way, you’re enjoying the best part of the holiday without adding your own little show to the mix. Invite your neighbors and friends to go to and consolidate firework use even more.
Fueling up for the Fourth
For those who are headed somewhere else for the 4th of July, the best way you can help the environment is to fuel up from a responsible source. Try to find a gas station that’s already offsetting emissions from your car.
Swing into the nearest Stop & Shop gas station to make an environmentally-conscious choice. Stop & Shop’s Restore program offsets up to 30 percent of your car’s tailpipe emissions each time you fuel up. Dedicated to giving back to communities throughout New England, Restore calculates carbon emissions based on the amount of fuel you purchase then invests in carbon reduction projects to make the greatest impact.
Keeping the planet freer of waste and pollution is just one way to pay tribute to what the 4th of July is all about and show our appreciation for the world we live in.