5 ways to celebrate the 4th of July waste free

Let's celebrate the land of the free, waste free. We want America to be a liveable, clean place in the future. Reducing waste, especially unnecessary plastic waste, is a great place to start!

Alisha | Adobe Stock
View of Grayson Highlands in Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.

Let’s celebrate the land of the free, waste free. Our landfills are filling up. They are contributing to climate change, contaminating our soil, and negatively affecting our health. We see plastic pollution harming us here in Virginia by littering our waterways and harming animals in the Chesapeake Bay. By producing less waste, we can begin working towards a cleaner future.

According to the EPA the average American generates about five pounds of waste each day! People produce even more waste than normal during holidays. It is important that we break these harmful habits. There are many ways to reduce waste this Fourth of July and all July long as a part of #PlasticFreeJuly

1. Stay away from single use items

Plastic plates, cups, and silverware might seem like the most convenient option when celebrating with a group of people. However, they are not convenient for our Earth. Take the time to wash reusable dishes and avoid throwing away unnecessary waste. Instead of buying drinks that come in single use plastics, stir up your own drinks, and serve them in pitchers or coolers. 

2. Compost

Composting is an amazing way to reduce waste! All of the organic waste that goes to landfills produces the greenhouse gas methane. A lot of this organic waste can be composted instead. Because people tend to eat more food during the holidays, the Fourth of July is a great day to start composting. To find more information about what can be composted read what the EPA says about composting. 

3. Buy groceries with reusable shopping bags

Plastic shopping bags take years to decompose. They endanger animals who might mistake them for food or get tangled in them. While decomposing, plastic grocery bags release harmful chemicals into the soil and air. Overall, plastic bags are not worth using. Be kind to the environment and use reusable shopping bags to buy items for your Independence Day celebration. 

4. Watch community/city fireworks

Fireworks are a huge part of Fourth of July celebrations. However, they pollute the air with harmful chemicals and smoke. Consider going to a community firework show instead of lighting your own to decrease pollution. If you do set off fireworks, make sure to clean up after them. 

5. Thrift your outfit

When looking for the perfect red, white, and blue outfit to party in- thrift stores are a great place to search. Billions of clothing items end up in landfills each year. Thrift stores allow us to reuse clothing instead of adding them to the growing piles of waste. You can even re-donate items after- giving them another life. 

When celebrating the past- it is also important to focus on the future. We want America to be a liveable, clean place in the future. Reducing waste, especially unnecessary plastic waste, is a great place to start! Celebrate this Independence Day waste free. Take it a step further and participate in Plastic Free July, a global movement to reduce plastic pollution.


Elly Boehmer

State Director, Environment Virginia

A former canvass director and organizer with Impact, Elly now directs Environment Virginia's efforts to promote clean air, clean water and open spaces in Virginia. Elly lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she enjoys gardening, photography, hiking and rollerblading with her dog.  

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