For most Americans, July 4th marks the official start of summer and that means family and friends gathering together enjoying each other at picnics and barbecues. But all this celebrating can take a toll on the Earth (and cost a lot of green as well), so why not consider some alternatives to the ways we've traditionally celebrated summer? Here are just a few ideas:
Serve filtered tap water. It's so easy to hit one of the big box stores and pick up cartons of water if you're hosting a picnic or barbecue, but you can save money and the planet when you choose to drink and serve filtered tap water instead.
Knowing that bottled water (even by the case), is 240 to 10,000 times more expensive than tap water and that 40% of bottled water should be labeled tap water because that's what it is, you may decide that the "convenience" is simply not worth the cost. Instead, set out pitchers of iced tap water and ask a willing helper to keep the pitchers full.
Substitute reusables for disposables when possible. Picnics and barbecues have become synonymous with throw aways–plates, cups, napkins, tablecloths and decor. While there are more choices for disposables made from recycled and biodegradable materials, using what you already own and remains a more earth-friendly (and budget-conscious) choice.
If you don't own enough plates and glasses, why not:
- Borrow. Friends and neighbors are usually happy to contribute
- Ask everyone to bring their own place settings. That's what people used to do B.P.P. (before paper plates).
- Hit your local thrift store. You'll likely be able to pick up dozens of plates very inexpensively and when you're done, you can donate them back.
When it comes to napkins, tablecloths and decor, think outside the paper box by decorating with items you already own, like sheets. Supply guests with red, white and blue fabric markers and set them loose. You'll end up with a unique table covering that you can use over and over again. Also, washcloths make great napkins and if they're stained with barbecue sauce, use them for rags.
Guest posters Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of
Celebrate Green! Creating
Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole