Making the Grade This Fourth of July


The Fourth of July is quite a quandary for me and many other environmentally conscious fun seekers. I love the parades, cold beers and family celebration. I even like the red, white and blue (not a year goes by that I don't don something like a blue skirt and blue and white stripped top and red accents). Unfortunately, our independence is often celebrated at the expense of the earth, which we actually are at least a little dependent upon, no? Activities are likely to contain what we've dubbed the "triple 'F' threat": Fun in the sun, Fireworks and Food (waste is just a given). Go from an F grade to an A by going green on our nation's most patriotic holiday. First off, try to keep your festivities local ... or carpool.

Fun in the sun is much more enticing when it isn't at the expense of your health. Sunscreen is necessary - we keep hearing—but opt for an eco-friendly alternative like Soléo Organics, made entirely from organic ingredients with nothing synthetic. No sacrifices here, though. It works just as well, if not better, than its chemically-laden counterparts. In fact, you'll be left feeling soft and revitalized as the sun sets with both UVA and UVB protection (3 hours in the water), not to mention a natural sun reflector found in nanofine zinc oxide. If you have oily or sensitive skin, Juice Beauty's tinted moisturizer with SPF 30 is a brilliant solution for the face (since I have dry skin, I first apply Duchess Marden's oil first).

Who doesn't love a good fireworks display (well, my dog isn't particularly keen)? But just think of all the nasty stuff they set off into the atmosphere: lead, barium, chromium, chlorates, dioxins, smoke and particulates, carbon monoxide. etc. Good news is that soon you're going to be able to convert those un-earth-friendly fireworks to green ones that are still a blast. Chemists are developing fireworks that utilize nitrogen-rich compounds for energy and non-toxic metals for color variation, thus eliminating the massive black clouds that litter post-spectacle skies (of course we're vastly oversimplifying this here). When these hit the market (hopefully by next year), it's up to us to get our communities to switch over.

A BBQ is the quintessential Independence Day observance. But as patriotic as slapping hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill is, consider that the sole thing you can do to benefit the environment is cut down on the consumption of animals. Here is where I confess that I too like a little sirloin, and since this is the ultimate BBQ season, the 4th is usually when I cannot resist (but I always think free-range and antibiotic-free). Eggplant, Portobello mushroom and corn on the cob can taste divine when grilled (and even more amazing when they come from a local, organic farmer), and there are tons of faux meat options. Just as important, serve up those veggie delights on anything but a conventional disposable plate that will be used for mere minutes before hitting the trash. Toting your china around may be unrealistic, but check out the compostable, all natural platters, plates and bowls from VerTerra. They are made out of fallen leaves from plantations in an enviro-consciously manufacturing process. These are the chicest single-use tableware we've seen. I guess it could be that we are being brainwashed by the Dharma Initiative, but the whole office is giddy for these hexagonal beauties. Apparently they can be reused for serving but I am tempted to create some sort of art project - like covering an entire wall. For more ways on greening this year's Fourth of July food fete, visit here
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