I have spent many Fourth of Julys poolside, next to a BBQ grill, or spending the day at a park. I found over the years how to incorporate many friendlier options into my celebrations.
- Turn the BBQ into a vegan gathering! Most vegans are thrilled to find a reason to celebrate vegan food (and then talk about vegan food while eating)! For a classic holiday cookout, Beyond Meat burgers and sausage make a great BBQ option, as well as Lightlife Hot Dogs - all of which are gluten-free! Tofu No-Egg Salad and Cherry Limeade Mousse also make a great addition to your vegan-friendly table.
- Use reusable products! One of the most eco-friendly ideas you can bring to your celebration is to ditch the disposable products. Using plates, glasses, and utensils that we already have, not only saves money, it also helps curb our waste and trash. Don’t forget about reusable napkins! My family switched from paper towels and disposable napkins about six years ago and found it was much easier than we expect. We even cut an old set of sheets that we no longer used and repurposed them as everyday napkins for us, and I also found great deals on reusable napkins for when family and friends come over. Balloons are another thing to consider forgoing. Latex balloons can take months to years to breakdown, and mylar balloons never breakdown, plus animals can mistake them as food and are never be able to digest the foreign object (and eventually lead to their demise).
- Think of alternatives to fireworks. I love fireworks (even though I was TERRIFIED of them as a kid) and big firework shows. But the more I learn about their creation and impact on the earth, the harder it is for me to enjoy them. “China’s fireworks factories, which produce an estimated 90 percent of the world’s fireworks, make up a perilous industry staffed mainly by rural women: Men typically work in the management offices while women, most of whom go straight to factory work out of high school, staff the lines. The industry developed in villages where men went outside of the village or often far away to work, either on farms or in factories, so women were hired to do the detail-oriented work of making the decorative explosives. They handle dangerous chemicals everyday with little prior training, and despite growing efforts by the Chinese authorities in recent years to make the industry safer, things frequently go wrong—often with lethal or life-changing consequences.” Plus fireworks impact our environment and cause pollution. I know all of that sounds grim, but there are plenty of ways to have fun on the 4th! Become creative with outdoor games, scavenger hunts, have a parade of your own in the backyard, or have fun with light photography after dark! Flashlights, candles, and even an old string of Christmas lights can turn into a firework show on a photo!
Our furry companion animals will also be thankful with the minimization of loud bangs on the 4th. Each year, my cats run around scared of the noises, but they can never escape the sounds and end up frantic the entire night. Not forgetting, loud noises and explosions can trigger adverse side effects with those who have PTSD.
- Get crafty with second-hand finds! Thrift stores and yard sales always have great bargains on crafty items and decorations. Browse the aisles or hit up the yard sales in your area to get your creative energy flowing to create decorations for your party! Door wreaths, hand-sewn napkins (another way to introduce reusable napkins), party games, or even serving dishes can be fun and inexpensive to make. Plus, when using second-hand materials, you are saving valuable earth resources from having to create new items and avoiding excess waste!
I would love to hear your ideas and how you celebrate the Fourth of July or any summer celebrations!