7 Tips for Eco-Friendly 4th of July Celebrations

Illustration of a picnic table with a grill on the left and fireworks in the background

Oh my, how time flies. With just a blink of the eye, 4th of July is upon us. Are you ready for an eco-friendly celebration?

Here are 7 ways you can paint the town red, white, and blue while still being green.

Cut Out One-time Use Plastics

Disposable plates, cups, and silverware are convenient for us but terrible for the environment. Instead, opt for using your regular washable dishes and cutlery.

If reusable dishes are just not an option, opt for compostable flatware made of corn, potato or bamboo. Be sure to look for these labels when purchasing:

Compostable Biodegradable Products Institute US Composting Council logo



PlA 7 Logo

Use Large Drink Dispensers

Plastic is not only bad for the environment, but it poses possible health risks as well. Have large water dispensers available and ask your guests to bring their own reusable water bottles. One of the added benefits of this is they’ll automatically know which one is theirs, removing the need to marker plastic cups with names. Also, a simple red (watermelon), white (coconut) and blue (blueberry) fruit water would taste great and look festive. And there are tons of alternative recipes for fruit-infused water online.

Instead of buying individual cans and bottles of beer, consider getting a keg from your favorite local brewery. This reduces waste and supports local businesses.

Go Green While Grilling

Nothing screams 4th of July celebration like barbeque. As the #1 grilling day of the year, backyard barbeques will fire up, and an estimated 60 million Americans will release 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air. Not great for the environment.

Propane grills are somewhat cleaner than charcoal, but both produce carbon emissions. If the charcoal taste is what you crave, choose coal made from sustainably managed forest trees. And before you run out and buy starter fluid, consider using a charcoal chimney starter. You can also check out our own 5 ways to have a greener BBQ tip.

Barbeque the Vegan Way

When we think of barbeque, some of us think of meat like ribs, brisket, chicken or pork. But recent environmental studies show that a heavy meat-based diet has dire consequences for the environment and contributes to climate change. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” study leader and University of Oxford professor Joseph Poore told the Guardian.

The growth of the vegan market means barbecuing alternatives like these cauliflower steaks, sweet potato black bean burgers, portobello mushroom burgers, and vegan rib recipes could satiate even your most omnivorous friends.

Buy Green Fireworks

Fireworks, in general, aren’t great for the environment, but they are steeped in 4th of July tradition. If you plan to set off your own fireworks, ask for the kinds that are rich in nitrogen.

Better yet, save some money (and reduce pollution) by visiting your local municipal fireworks display.

Check out Just Energy for more great tips on green and safe alternatives to fireworks.

Use safer sunscreens

Before you head to the beach this July 4th, check your sunscreen. According to NPR, more than 3,500 sun-protection products contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are chemicals known to bleach coral reefs, effectively killing them. And with an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen going into the ocean each year, choosing reef-safe products is crucial for the environment.

Additionally, many sunscreens are either ineffective or contain chemicals that are unsafe for use. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 Sunscreen Guide for more information.

Reuse and Repurpose Your Decorations

Avoid buying one-time-use decorations like paper streamers, balloons, and plastic tablecloths. Choose red, white and blue foods to help create a festive July 4th, ambiance. Use food coloring to produce red and blue drinks. And repurpose your red, white, and blue holiday lights by stringing them up for your party.

Follow these seven simple tips and you’ll be throwing a fun, eco-friendly celebration that will have your friends begging you to host once again next year.