Challenge your family to a greener Fourth of July celebration with these ideas, and have fun while reducing your impact on air quality this holiday weekend.
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.
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. Then 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. Also consider joining friends for the meal prep, and light only one grill, instead of several.
Save money and reduce your contribution to air pollution by attending a professional fireworks display, instead of buying your own. (They are illegal in some cities, including Kansas City, MO). Many local displays also include music, food and other festivities. Check out these 15 places to celebrate July 4th on a list compiled by KCUR-FM.