How to Throw a Green 4th of July Party

Hosting a party or family gathering this Independence Day? How about celebrating Independence Day this year with a little less dependency on Mother Earth? For a greener 4th of July party - one which won't have you sheepishly hauling loads of garbage bags on your next garbage pick-up day - follow these 4 simple guidelines. Call your eco-friendly gathering a token of apprecation, a birthday gift to your homeland, your own salute to the union. 4th of July Green Tip #1: Close to home; close to the heart Rather than searching for menu items and decor that come from afar this Independence Day, try looking a little closer to home. For the decor, consider what natual elements from your yard or local farmer's market might create a relaxed and homey look and reflect your sense of place. Leaves, shells or river stones make pretty placeholders. Simply write your guests' names on the leaf, shell or stone with a permanent non-toxic marker. For take-home gifts, pick up tree saplings at your local nursery and tie a name tag or thank you card to the stem. For the menu items, see what local items are at the farmer's market or grocer's. Eating low on the food chain, choosing organic meats and produce, and favoring your local farms are all sustainable choices that will bring an element of hometown patriotism and charm to your event. 4th of July Green Tip #2: Repurpose Old jam jars become mugs. Upturned wine glasses become classy candle holders. Juice frozen in a bundt pan becomes a floating ice sculpture in the punch bowl. There are so many creative ways to create a festive atmosphere without buying factory-made decorations. Burlap placemats or table runner? Love it! This DIY blogger will show you how. 4th of July Green Tip #3: Beg, Borrow and Rent Rather than purchasing new plates, cups, tablecloths and even tables and chairs, your local party rental will be able to provide all these supplies for a minimal cost. It beats throwing out all those single-use styrofoam products and storing rarely-used items! Rental stores will even have outdoor lanterns, heat lamps, roulette wheels and cotton candy machines for added fun! 4th of July Green Tip #4: Cut out the Waste If renting your wares is not in the cards for you, consider looking for products that are made to decompose, rather than sit in a landfill. Name brands like Cereplast carry cutlery made from a biodegradable bio-plastic consisting of 80 percent corn-based starch and 20 percent green fillers.They can go right into your compost bin. Whole Foods also carries plates, bowls and cups from renewable and biodegradable sugar cane. Another way to reduce waste is to simply skip the paper and plastic streamers and latex balloons. Pick up some flowers at the grocers or local farmer's market for a festive look. Red roses, gerber daisies and branches of red berries will mark the occasion. Make recycling easier for your guests! Pull out your recycling bins from their hidden spaces and encourage your guests (or those helping in the kitchen) to recycle cans and bottles and other recyclables. Happy 4th of July! May it be green, memorable and star-spangled!

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