By Danielle Ransom
Mmm, mmm! The smell of smoked meat is already in the air. It won’t be long ’til our favorite summer holiday is here: The Fourth of July. With this big celebration on the horizon, it’s important to be mindful of the waste we create and how we get rid of it.
Here are five tips for having an eco-friendly Fourth of July that won’t rain on your parade – and may even save you some money!
1. Mind Your Portions
Now, I know these celebrations are the time to show off your latest grill tools and barbecuing skills, but make a shopping list and stick to it to ensure you’re not getting surplus food that will wind up in the trash. Get a headcount in advance and portion food based on that. You can even cut back on some of the dishes you intend to cook. Do you really need potato salad, pasta salad and a green salad?
2. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
Have a good-sized recycle bin near where the party will be. For example, if the party is in your backyard, make sure the recycle bin is outside by the backdoor so guests can easily get to it.
Use hard plastic dishes or reusable containers. If you must use disposable dishes, get plastic ones instead of Styrofoam (which isn’t recyclable). Also, consider cloth napkins instead of paper.
4. Properly Dispose of Used Products
A festive party can generate a lot of waste, so make sure you dispose of everything correctly. If you aren’t sure what to do with a material, check out our What Do I Do With tool.
- You can drop off lighter fluid, propane tanks and other flammable liquids free of charge at the Recycle and Reuse Drop-Off Center.
- Recycle bottles and cans in the blue single-stream recycling cart.
- Food scraps, paper bags, cardboard, paper towels and tissue can go in a compost bin if you have one. If you’re interested in starting to compost at home, learn about Austin Resource Recovery’s Home Composting Rebate Program.
5. Clean up after Yourself
Unfortunately, not everything can be recycled, but it’s still important to pick up your trash and litter. This is especially important if you plan to shoot off fireworks, so hazardous materials don’t seep into the soil or contaminate the environment. (Remember, fireworks are illegal within Austin city limits – so if you do use fireworks, make sure it’s in an area where it’s allowed!)