Green Your Summer: How to Go Red, White, and Green This 4th Of July

By Amanda Cunningham on July 03, 2014 from Green Your Summer via

With the Fourth of July holiday just around the corner, Waste Management reminds everyone to be safe and green as the backyard barbeques, pool parties and fireworks celebrations begin.
Disposing of those coals from your Independence Day barbecue can pose a major threat.
 “Just as those coals helped to get the fire started in your barbecue, they can also start a fire in your trash container or, once emptied into the back of one of our trucks, ignite the materials around it,” said Kerry Riddle of Waste Management of West Virginia. “Coals that appear to be cooled can create an unsafe situation for you, your neighbors and our employees. Remember that coals can stay hot for hours or even days after you have finished using them.”
Coals or ashes fresh from the barbecue should never be disposed directly into your collection container or in your greenwaste container.  Coals should be cooled for several days, and then placed in a metal container with a tight lid for proper disposal in your waste container.  To speed up the cooling process, you may carefully place coals in a metal container full of water to “drown” them like you would a campfire.  Remember: never place coals – even if you think they’re cool - in plastic, paper or wood containers.
For a greener barbeque, WM urges consumers to consider using lump coal made from invasive tree species or harvested from sustainable managed forests. Additionally, petroleum-free charcoal starter is available purchase at many household discount and hardware stories.
Fireworks also require special handling when you’re done celebrating.  The National Council on Fireworks Safety advises soaking used fireworks in water and letting them sit for 15 minutes before disposal.  Dispose of all firework debris, used matches, wrappers, etc. in your trash can to prevent littering and water contamination from gunpowder residue.
Furthermore, fireworks spew gunpowder, heavy metals and accelerants into our air.  To help improve air quality and still enjoy the fireworks festivities, avoid setting off personal displays, and check out your local area’s show.  You can also encourage your city officials to start using more environmentally friendly firework methods, like the compressed air technique used at Disney. 
4th of July parties are another great opportunity to show your patriotism for the planet.  Here are some eco-friendly party tips to help you go red, white, and green!
  • Each year, Americans toss out enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times!  Using reusable dishware is always best, but if that’s not practical, try to buy environmentally friendly, disposable tableware instead.  Look for products made out of renewable and biodegradable materials like sugar cane and bamboo, or ones made from 100% recycled materials. 
  • When entertaining, be sure to provide a convenient, clearly marked receptacle for recycling next to any trash cans.  To be even greener, add a bin for food scraps that you can compost later. 
  • Think locally when planning your menu.  Shipping ingredients from another part of the world requires a tremendous amount of fuel. Look to your nearest farmers' market for in-season fruits and vegetables, as well as meat, eggs, and dairy products. They're fresher, taste better, and are oftentimes priced the lowest.
  • Use aluminum foil instead of plastic wrap to cover and store food.  Clean foil can be crumpled up and tossed into the recycling bin, making it the better option.
  • Scrap your traditional paper party invitations and go digital!  Online evites are often free, and help cut back on the four billion trees forested each year for paper products.
  • Encourage guests to car pool; it helps save time, money and the environment!  Let guests know who else is coming from their area, and offer to put them in contact with someone who might be able to give them a ride, or might appreciate getting a ride from them.
With just a little extra effort, Bridgeport residents can have a safe, fun and eco-friendly 4th of July.  We know summer is a fun and busy time, and hope these simple tips will help keep thinking green a priority.

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