Feature photo: gliuoo; Photo: chadmagiera

Just because you waited until the last minute to plan your 4th of July party doesn’t mean it can’t be green.

Holidays always sneak up on me. Tomorrow, I’ll be scrambling around at the last minute to throw together an impromptu party for friends who don’t have their own July 4th plans, but I’ll still be able to go green. Here are some tips for you to do the same:

1. Make invitations by word of mouth only.

It’s too late for paper invitations, so you’ve already eliminated some waste! Forgo the phone and e-mail, too. Instead, issue word of mouth invitations to the people who are literally the closest to you: co-workers, friends, neighbors you say “Hi” to as you pass them in the hall. Not only will you be going green, you might make some new friends out of people who’ve just been peripheral acquaintances.

2. Eat local foods.

Whether you’re in charge of the prep or you plan a potluck 4th, challenge yourself and your guests to go with as much locally grown/raised food as possible. If you’re not sure where to find local food in your community, Adam Roy points you toward six online resources in this article.

3. Serve with reusable or biodegradable plates and utensils.

If your party is small scale and contained to the area in or around your home, consider serving food with your regular plates and utensils to cut down on waste. If that’s not possible, though, check your local grocery store for biodegradable plates and cutlery. Keywords to look for include “corn” or “sugarcane-based”; these products break down much more quickly and with far fewer adverse environmental effects than paper, plastic, or styrofoam picnic supplies.

4. Make green fun…and part of the party.

You don’t have to be preachy about your environmentalism. Instead, make going green fun for your guests. Does anyone have an old hand-crank ice cream machine? Choose a flavor and take turns cranking the handle to churn up some delicious homemade ice cream. Not only will it taste better than anything you can buy at the store; it’s carbon footprint is likely to be a lot smaller. You can find some recipes here.

5. Bring biodegradable bags: one for garbage, one for recycling.

Encourage recycling by setting up separate bags for garbage and recyclables. If you compost and have a compost bucket, consider making that available, too.

6. Forget about the fireworks… for now.

Fireworks are definitely not environmentally friendly, but if you’re determined to have them be part of your celebration, there’s not a whole lot you can do about going green in this area at the last minute. The best option is to enjoy your local community’s fireworks bash. Then, do some research about biodegradable fireworks, which are allegedly used by Disney. We weren’t able to find out, though, if these are available for retail yet.

Community Connection:

What other tips do you have for greening the 4th?
Do you already have July 4th plans? If not, Hal Amen offers a list of celebrations in the US and around the world. Invite yourself to the party!