Challenge your family and friends to a greener July 4th celebration with these ideas, and have fun while reducing your impact on air quality this holiday.

Traditionally, Independence Day is full of fireworks, barbecue and outdoor activities that Americans look forward to every year. However, the environmental impact of lighting the skies of your neighborhood is less positive.

According to the Mid-America Regional Council, local air quality is compromised whenever chemicals are ignited, and this in turn contributes to pollution. Smoke, accelerants and heavy metals emitted by fireworks are especially risky for people with asthma, and traces of these chemicals can linger in the air and water weeks after the fireworks are extinguished.

But with a few simple tips, everyone could lessen these negative environmental effects, while keeping the fun and excitement in the celebration. Try these easy ideas:

  1. Buy local

Start by shopping for your picnic fare at the farmer’s market and find local veggies, fruit, bread and meat that has a very small transportation footprint.

  1. Reduce your impact at the grill

Avoid self-lighting charcoal and petroleum-based lighter fluid. Try using a charcoal chimney, natural lighter fluids or an electric charcoal starter to grill greener. Consider joining friends for the meal prep, and light only one grill, instead of several.

  1. Rethink fireworks

Save money and reduce your contribution to air pollution by attending a professional fireworks display, instead of buying your own fireworks. (They are illegal in many cities, including Kansas City, MO). Many displays also include music, food and other festivities.

To find the best fireworks display in each state, check out the Travel and Leisure list. In Kansas City, check the Visit KC list for events.

Photo: Visit KC, Longview Lake in Jackson County, MO