This Fourth of July, add a little (or a lot) of green to your red, white and blue

Ah, today is the last day of a short week, and time for one of my favorite holidays. Actually, if it weren’t for the heat, Independence Day may be No. 1 in my book.

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Being in downtown Lexington, watching a parade, walking the streets and meeting people I haven’t seen since the last Fourth of July. Then there is the eating… barbecue, funnel cake and beer before 5 p.m. … it does not get much better! Oh, and there is the patriotic part, too.

So how do we include green in our red, white and blue celebrations? Here is a quick list of four simple things you can do on the fourth that can have a great impact on our local environment.

1. Watch fireworks in a group. Fourth of July would not be the same without fireworks. I have many great memories of sparklers, snakes and bottle rockets, but the greenest way to watch fireworks is in a group. One of the biggest problems with home fireworks is the litter. If you shoot something into the air, chances are you will not find its remnants and they will get washed into a stream during the next rain. Most communities have fabulous fireworks shows produced by professionals – go there, save money, be with friends and don’t catch anything on fire!

2. Conserve water – July in Kentucky is HOT. Drink lots of water, but use tap water in a reusable bottle. Remember, recycling is the third R in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Reduce and reuse are the most important parts.

3. Use propane – if you are a gourmet chef and believe that charcoal is the only way to cook, skip this part. According to a study showcased on Earth 911 “as a fuel, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production and considerably more efficient in cooking.” Make sure to trade in your tanks when they are empty because this will save money as well as resources.

4. Make sun tea – I have to admit that I don’t like any sort of cold tea. I grew up on the West Coast, so sweet tea and sun tea are foreign to me, but I understand that you southerners love both. The idea of sun tea is great, though, and would make a nice, green addition to your holiday BBQ. If you need a recipe however, you will have to find a real Southern girl.

Happy Fourth of July!
1 Amy-SohnerAmy Sohner is executive director of Greensource and a graduate of the University of Kentucky in Natural Resource Conservation and Management. Sohner has worked with Greensource since its inception in 2002 and is a Certified Environmental Educator. She is involved with the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Alliance, the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance, the Licking and Kentucky River Basin Teams, and serves as vice-chair of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission. Sohner lives near the Kentucky River palisades with her husband, two daughters and a multitude of pets.

This article appeared in KY Forward on July 3, 2014.

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