Many will be reminded of the family, friends, food and fireworks they missed out on a year ago, but plenty of July 4 celebrations could also include an overabundance of single-use plastics.
Between decorations, plates, silverware, table settings and other pre-packaged items, a Fourth of July party can contribute to growing global plastic pollution. The United Nations Environment Programme has estimated that only 9% of the world’s plastic is properly recycled.
"It can really add up," Lauren Olson, Zero Waste Manager for World Centric, said of single-use plastics during July 4 celebrations during a Friday interview with KCBS Radio’s Eric Thomas.
So, how can you reduce plastic waste, and even your carbon footprint, for an environmentally friendly Fourth of July party? Olson offered a handful of tips to consider when you plan:
1. Purchase local, organic food rather than options that traveled long distances, as the former will carry a smaller carbon footprint.
2. Avoid individually packaged products, using reusable containers and bulk foods – like cut fruits and vegetables – instead.
3. Use reusable silverware, if you can. Compostable knives, forks and spoons offer great alternatives, since such utensils can be composted with your food waste at the end of the day.
4. Know how many people you’re feeding, and plan accordingly. "Now’s not the time to get things that are a size smaller," Olson said, recommending buying one item in a larger size rather than multiple smaller items.