Can’t believe the 4th of July is coming up so quickly. The slow slide into fall begins. But wait, this is no time to be blue, I have a party to plan – my 4th of July bash.  Each year, I try to make red, white and blue just a tad greener for my family and friends. Here is how I do it:

Low Impact Picnic Gear – Disposables are convenient for party givers but not so convenient for the environment. Instead use washable dishes for a home party. If you are planning a picnic, try a “bring your own place setting” theme. The mix and match plates and flatware can be a conversation starter. Provide wine glasses on a lanyard just like at a food and wine festival. Guests can keep refilling with their favorite beverage and bring home the glass as a star spangled momento.

Green Grilling – Use propane as your grilling fuel because it, simply, burns more efficiently or completely producing fewer emissions or greenhouse gases. You can also adjust the heat with propane thus the amount of fuel burned can be controlled. If you have a charcoal grill buy “chunk charcoal” (it doesn’t have nasty additives) rather than briquettes (the fast fuel evil step-sister of charcoal). Make sure the flames have died down before starting to cook food. Charring the meat (blackening) can boost the risk of cancer and believe me no steak is worth it.

Local and Organic – Buying what is in-season in your area -- there is so much variety this time of year. It will help assure you of lower prices and increased freshness meaning more delicious and nutritious food with likely a lower carbon footprint. Watch for the Minnesota Gown logo at your grocery store or farmers market . Also, buy "Certified Organic" meaning food produced without antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, irradiation or bioengineering. Choosing organic avoids potential health threatening chemicals and prevents damaging chemicals from getting into our waterways. It also lessens cruelty to animals and helps maintain fertile soil.

Low Impact Fireworks - Americans have a thing for fireworks but no one talks about the gun powder fall out, sulfur-coal compounds, heavy metals or other toxic chemicals that spew sky and earthward. Not to mention the fact that home fireworks are noxious, dangerous and spook dogs and wildlife. The best green move is to ask your local fireworks peeps to use Sekon biodegradable fireworks next year (the gunpowder-free “air launch” technology that Disney uses).

Do it outside
– The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to have your party outside. The big win is that you will avoid costly electricity use in air conditioning and lights. Besides, it’s more fun to be outside playing yard games like croquet or lawn bowling. If it is too hot mid day, move the party time to early evening when the weather cools and use candles and lanterns for a downright festive atmosphere.

Have a happy and safe green 4th of July!! 

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