William Faulkner once said that “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” The spirit behind that practice – a sense of duty to those and that which you love – has carried both individuals and nations for hundreds of years. This weekend, many of us will be celebrating the courage men and women before us showed while protecting their own freedom and ensuring ours.
But while we do that, we must not forget the duty we have. The world’s health is falling into decline, and our very way of life is now at stake. We all must work at both curbing waste and promoting a healthy planet. So while the Fourth of July should be celebrated with fervor, compassion, and pride, let us celebrate it without the expense to our most loyal friend, Mother Earth.
Number 4. Recycled and 100% Bio-Degradable Paper Products
One of the biggest areas of waste during Independence Day is the amount of waste generated. To some, this is unavoidable. The whole family may be coming to the celebration, and after a night of food and drink, waste is simply going to be generated. If you find yourself in a similar position – unable to avoid creating waste – at least create waste that is easier on the world.
Recycled biodegradable paper products are a great idea, for one. These replace the wax coated, non-recycled counterparts that are guilty for creating so much dense waste when the holiday is over. You should also be sure, though, to keep trash and recycling separate. Keep waste down this 4th!
Number 3. Take a Walk, Carpool, Ride A Bike
This option is good for two reasons: first, the street will be heavy in traffic; second, you help conserve resources and reduce emissions. As for the first reason, time is always of importance. Walking with your family, riding a bike, or something of the sort will get you around probably just as quick, but without the need and cost of a car.
Number 2. Sustainable Eating, from Meats to Veggies
Let’s face it: the Fourth see’s a lot of food (hence #4), which means you’ll be buying a lot at the store. When you do this, choose your brands wisely. Although it will cost a bit more, opt for grass fed, organic meats as well as organic fruits and vegetables. Choosing ethical, sustainable practices when it comes to food is a great way to show how committed you are to sustaining this nation. Let’s stop polluting local lands and creating toxic run-off in our Gulf.
Number 1. Opt out of Fireworks. Seriously.
It sounds like a lot to ask, but fireworks provide temporary enjoyment in exchange for long lasting consequences. Not only does the practice fill the air with particulate matter and disturb wildlife, but it spews perchlorate into the environment – and a lot of it. According to one study, perchlorate levels rose by “1,028 times above background levels. Levels peaked about 24 hours after the display, and then decreased to the pre-fireworks background within 20- to 80 days.”
Perchlorate has begun to show up in drinking water and even milk in recent years, leading the EPA to consider high levels as a public health risk. The CDC has determined that exposure greatly increases risk of thyroid hormone depression, and that breast milk may serve as a carrier of perchlorate to newborns.
Now, allowing that doesn’t sound like spirit we should be showing this Independence Day. Right?