Fourth of July is almost here! Show your independent spirit by celebrating with less waste and surprising your guests with your holiday planning panache.
Why you should go vegan on the Fourth of July
There’s not really any bad time to go vegan, but choosing to go vegan on the Fourth of July has special significance. This holiday usually brings to mind barbeques with burgers and hotdogs, when it could be more about addressing our patriotic duty to the planet. For some guaranteed plant-based crowd pleasers, check out thesevegan pie recipes.
Here are some of the ways a plant-based diet cuts down on waste:
America’s manure lagoons from the livestock industry pose serious risks to our water. When they overflow or leak, they put excess nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen into the water. For instance, whenHurricane Florence high North Carolina last year, it flooded numerous hog manure lagoons linked to factory farming. These excess nutrients directly lead to toxic algae blooms. When you go vegan, you help reduce this form of excess waste.
Vegans also have a much lower environmental footprint than meat-eaters. Vegans have a water footprint that’s at least three times less impacting than that of meat eaters according to theVegan Society. You can also cut back on the18 to 51 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by the livestock industry.
Meat-eaters take up 20 times the space in cropland that plant-based dieters do. All of that extra land is needed to grow the feed for the livestock they eat. But it gets worse. Rainforests, where a huge percentage of theworld’s biodiversity is declining, are cut down to provide fields for feed crops or where cattle can graze. Over 90 percent of the rainforests cut down in the Amazon since 1970 were cleared for cattle lands (PETA).
How to reduce Fourth of July food waste
You can also express love for your countrybycutting back on the food waste you produce. Why? Because food waste emits greenhouse gases when it decomposes, accounting foreight percent of global emissions. Here are some ways to plan for less food waste.
- Get an accurate head-count for your party
Don’t go crazy with those extra margins for the people who have not RSVP’d but might come. Select your hors d’oeuvres tastefully so the quality, not the quantity impresses your guests. That way, you’ll ideally eat all the food you prepare--no more, no less.
- Have a back-up supply of non-perishables
Nuts, crackers, dried fruit, and chips are all great back-ups. If no one eats them, it’s fine, because that food can go back into a jar and stay fresh for at least a few more weeks. It’s much better than tossing out a platter of sliced watermelon that no one volunteers to eat.
Even with the best-made plans, we can still end up with leftovers. That food should go to hungry mouths. Give it away to your guests to take home or donate it to a charitable organization that serves homeless people.
Ways to cut back on waste from Fourth of July party supplies
When you’re planning a feast, it may be tempting to cut corners on cleaning up by opting for single-use products that you can easily throw away. Please don’t give in to this temptation this year. Here are some strategies.
- Skip single-use plates, straws, napkins, and cutlery
Impress your guests with real plates and utensils. If it’s a potluck, include directions to bring-your-own-plate. You can easily explain how this novel approach has an ethical purpose in your invitations.
- Make clean up a part of the celebration
No one likes to host a Fourth of July gathering only to discover that everyone has left when it’s time to clean up. Make sure everyone pitches in to help. Besides,encouraging others to live more consciously is always good for your karma. Bring out buckets of water and biodegradable soap suds to make it a splashy fun time.
Minimize waste from Fourth of July decorations
If you like to get into the spirit of the holiday by lining every corridor and awning with red, white and blue crepe paper decor--just don’t do that this year. That material is designed for you to throw it away. Try a better alternative.
- No balloons and no confetti this year
Cheerful disposable decorations are going to become extinct in the next few years as more and more people get smart about microplastics and single-use waste. If creatures get attracted to the bright colors of the plastic, mistaking them for food, they’ll, unfortunately, suffer health consequences.
- Go for reusable or compostable DIY decorations
Have you ever thought of using dried flower petals for confetti, reusable paper lanterns for balloons or fabric ribbons for a splash of color? With DIY decor, you can be creative and add memorable touches of personality to your event. Just keep it either compostable or reusable.
- Skip personal fireworks and watch your local show
I’ll admit that fireworks are literally “a blast.” But they also litter the surroundings with scraps and shards and they scare the nearby wildlife. You can still enjoy the excitement by joining in on one of the larger fireworks celebrations in your community. That way you can reduce waste and watch a dazzling display without risking a fire.
Still need an outfit for your party on the 4th? There’s still time to pick out yourfavorite organic tee to wave your nature-loving flag.