Celebrate Sustainably This Independence Day

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While the pandemic resulted in many Fourth of July events in 2020 being canceled or modified, annual celebrations will return in full force this year with in-person fireworks displays, parades and more. Not only is the Fourth of July one of the biggest holidays of the year, but between the single-use plastics and traffic jams, it’s also a day with a major negative impact on the environment.

Commemorating Independence Day in an eco-friendly manner is an ideal way to show your patriotism by taking steps to protect the future of this great nation we call home. With that in mind, here are a few tips to consider for reducing your carbon footprint this weekend to help improve the region’s air quality:

  • Green Your Travels – If you’re traveling over the holiday weekend, be conscious of how many extra items overall you’re packing to help lighten the load. The more weight trains, planes and automobiles have to carry, the more fuel they use, and the more harmful greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. Traveling by bus or train to your destination are the greenest options, but if you must fly, check to see if you can get an affordable, nonstop flight to help clear the air by cutting back on carbon emissions that come from takeoff and landing. If you are traveling by your own personal vehicle, perform routine maintenance steps ahead of time and follow the speed limit to help further reduce emissions and fuel consumption.
  • Opt for a Gas Grill – Breaking out the grill for a Fourth of July cookout is a fun and leisurely way to get outdoors and spend time with friends and family but poses a unique set of environmental challenges. From an air pollution standpoint, natural gas and propane grills burn the cleanest in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter. They also leave behind less waste than charcoal or wood grills. If you must use a charcoal grill, avoid petroleum-based lighter fluids and self-lighting charcoal that release petrochemicals into the atmosphere, and opt for an electric charcoal starter instead.
  • Freedom from Disposable Partyware – When shopping for supplies for your backyard barbeque, look for recyclable or compostable plates, cups and utensils rather than the kind that end up in the trash. Or, instead of buying tableware for one-time use, opt for your favorite set of dishes for the cookout this year that will save you money in the long run and help keep the air quality in healthy ranges. While you’ll probably still end up with items to recycle afterwards, you can do your part to keep waste at a minimum by putting out labeled bins for recycling and composting food scraps and other biodegradable items, too.
  • Choose Greener Fireworks – According to research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. typically experiences the highest yearly amount of particulate matter air pollution on the Fourth of July due to fireworks. If you plan to host your own backyard show, enjoy a greener display by looking for eco-friendly, nitrogen-rich fireworks that produce less environment-harming smoke, and make sure to clean up all the debris afterwards. Otherwise, take your party to see the local fireworks display rather than shooting off your own.

Take action for cleaner air by throwing a little green into the mix of red, white and blue this Independence Day and continue to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle to help people all across St. Louis breathe easier every day, not just on special occasions. To learn more about the link between living greener and our air quality, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.