Go Green This Memorial Day!

Photograph by Jeff Kubina via flickr.com

No matter what you have planned – a day at the park, a backyard barbecue, or just a simple family gathering – make it green!

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Before everyone arrives, be sure to set out different containers for recycling and composting. This will make it easy for everyone to put items in the right place once they’re done.

Use reusable utensils, bowls and cups. Cloth napkins work great instead of paper napkins. But if you do go with paper plates and napkins, be sure to buy recycled – and then compost them when you’re done.

Pass on those condiment packets! Buying in bulk is cheaper, more convenient and much more eco friendly. For example, provide bottles of ketchup and mustard instead of individual packets.

Avoid Styrofoam! Polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, takes up to 1,000 years to break down, and can’t be recycled! In addition, products made of Styrofoam leach toxic chemicals out into the food or beverage they contain – especially when heated.

Clean off dirty chairs, tables and other outside patio furniture with biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products instead of using chemical based cleaners.

Grill organic, hormone-free meat, sustainable caught fish and organic fruit and vegetables. Go shopping at your local farmer’s market! The fresh produce and local products will please everyone’s palate, and you’ll help support local farmers. And as a bonus – you can avoid crowded grocery stores!  

Grilling:

Over half of all Americans will be having meals from a grill this Memorial Day weekend. While the effects of one or two grills may seem small to you, the overall impact of millions of barbecues around the country can have a very serious impact! Try some of these tips to lessen your bbq footprint:

  • While they are still toxic, gas, propane and electric grills burn cleaner and more efficiently than charcoal or wood. Electric grills are the cleanest, releasing 99% less carbon monoxide and 91% less carbon dioxide than charcoal. Next best is propane, followed by natural gas-fired, which burn cleaner.
  • If you do use charcoal, consider lump brands.  These are made from real hardwood firewood chunks which have been charred and do not contain chemical binders or igniting agents. 
  • Switch from lighter fluid, which releases smog-forming Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), to a chimney starter.

Cleanup:

Be sure to recycle all the glass bottles, aluminum cans, plastic tubs and bottles from your party.

Remember that paper plates, cups, napkins, plain cardboard and waxy cardboard boxes and containers – they can all be composted.

Be sure to encourage guests to take home leftovers, and remember – leftover food can be composted!  

Whatever you end up doing, have a happy and healthy Memorial Day Weekend!

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