Tips for a Sustainable Independence Day Party

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Like many US Americans, I have a deep patriotic vein running through my body. Play any country song with a line of gratitude for our soldiers or a flag waving proudly and you’ve got my heart racing and tears falling. So it follows that Independence Day is a big deal at our house.

We usually like to be grilling outside near a pool or beach; casual entertaining is the order of the day. A chill day with maybe a parade, lots of friends and family, great food, and a good fireworks show is how we like to roll. This year I'm trying to be more mindful about our celebrations by reducing our waste and plastic where we can. I thought you might enjoy this too, so I've compiled a few tips for a more sustainable 4th of July celebration.

1. CONSIDER HOSTING OUTSIDE

Consider letting everyone get some fresh air by hosting outside. Your air conditioner won't have to work as hard and you won't have to worry as much about spills or children running around where they shouldn't be. Turn your thermostat up a few notches to encourage everyone to mingle out of doors, but be sure that you have plenty of shade and water so they stay hydrated.

2. USE WHAT YOU HAVE

There's no need to buy everything new just for one day; use what you have to save you some stress (definitely can use some of that when hosting) and money. Bring out all your white and blue decor, then accent with red. I'll bet you've got some white serveware in your kitchen, and maybe some blue vases or tablecloth? If not, berries make excellent accents. A bowl of blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries on a warm day is mouth-watering. Add in any missing colors with flowers or through your outfit.

3. USE REAL GLASSES, PLATES, AND SILVERWARE

Paper is convenient, but you can’t recycle paper plates because they are coated in plastic or wax to prevent soaking. So opt for the real thing. It’ll instantly scale up your look. If you're going for a rustic vibe, use mason jars as glasses and bandannas as napkins. At the end of the party, pile everything in the dishwasher and let modern technology do your work for you.

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4. USE DECOR THAT WORKS FOR ANY OCCASION THEN ACCENT WITH SPECIFICS

If you decide to invest in some additional decor, go for something neutral that can work with multiple occasions; you'll get more use out of them. I've got my eye on some cute white bunting at the moment that I know I can use for just about every event.

5. USE REAL FLOWERS FROM YOUR GARDEN

Informal clippings from your garden (or a neighbor’s garden or a local floral shop) work beautifully for a 4th of July celebration. And don't feel like you have to stick to the red, white, and blue color scheme with your florals. Yellow could make for a fun accent (in small amounts), keeping the aesthetic lively.

6. MAKE IT EASY FOR GUESTS TO COMPOST OR RECYCLE

Good hosting means paying attention to the details. Have bins ready and make clear signs showing guests where to put their compostable food or recyclables and dishes. That way you won't have to be constantly telling everyone what to do with their leftovers. You can make this fun with rhymes and cute sayings. Guests will be delighted.

7. CONSIDER WRITING LETTERS TO SOLDIERS AS AN ACTIVITY FOR GUESTS

What better way to celebrate than saying thank you to someone who's sacrificed to help us keep the freedom we enjoy? Operation Gratitude (and other organizations) accepts letters to soldiers, veterans, and first responders all year round. Set out some paper and pens and a sign with letter-writing guidelines - found here. You don't need individual envelopes, just mail everything together after the party's over.

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Have a wonderful Fourth of July and stay safe!