Go Greener This Independence Day

US FlagThe 4th of July is around the corner and while we try to be environmentally conscious at all times of the year, this holiday presents a unique opportunity for us to bring a greener mindset to our outdoor celebrations and group get-togethers.  We collected a few tips on how to have a greener 4th from our LA board members:


  • Pass On Plastic Party Ware – They’re popular and easy: Plastic, ready-to-go plates, cups and utensils are convenient for parties with a lot of guests. The down side, they’re not so convenient for the environment.  To avoid this, do your best to use normal tableware that can just be washed and reused. If you must go the disposable route, clean them up (they’re often washable) and use them at your next big gathering.
  • Green Your Menu – For barbecue lovers, there’s nothing better (or more traditional) than grilled food on the Fourth of July. But, instead of heading to your traditional meat and veggie aisles, consider using locally grown organic food this holiday.  Plus, it might surprise you, but nearly all the food on your menu can be replaced with its organic cousin. This is a great way to introduce family and friends to delicious organic foods while helping the environment by reducing chemicals used in processed foods and the transportation costs that usually come with shipping non-local food products.

– Patie Maloney

  • Use reusable containers like Rubbermaid or Tupper Ware rather than plastic bags or foil wrap to transport and hold food and other items.
  • Separate recyclable materials from food and other trash even if you do not plan to recycle the items yourself. This will make it easier and more probable that it will be recycled by someone else.

– Bob Comer

  • When I think of the 4th of July holiday, I don’t usually think of China, but that unlikely culture has influenced our national holiday in several ways. Fireworks are pretty obvious example but how about dietary choices for a more sustainable planet?  Yep, there is a trend in China toward veganism based on the toxic condition of the soil and water due to fertilizer run-off from factory farming. As a matter of fact there is a larger percent of vegetarians in China than in the U.S. (Check out this encouraging story from Beijing.)  In the spirit of vegetarianism here in the U.S., try to introduce meatless dishes at your next 4th of July BBQ!

Sharon Lawrence

Bonus:  In the spirit of vegetarian dishes, here’s Sharon’s suggestion for a vegan corn salad, perfect for using the corn left over from a big picnic or if you buy extra ears for your BBQ.  It comes highly recommended, with Sharon noting that she’s “been doing this recipe for 10 summers now. I love this time of year:)”

Grilled corn and avocado salad with lime-cumin vinaigrette
Prep time –20 minutes
Serves 6
Note: this dish is perfect for the day after a big barbecue when you have leftover corn. The dressing is best made in a mortar and pestle where you can grind the cumin garlic and salt to a smooth paste. But as an alternative, you can powder the cumin in a spice grinder and puree the garlic on a cutting board by finely mincing it, sprinkling it with a little salt and rubbing it to a paste with the flat of a chef’s knife.
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp pureed garlic
2 tsp salt
6 Tbs lime juice (preferably from sweet Mexican limes)
1/4 C oil
2 lbs (about 3 large) avocados, pitted
2 ears of corn , grilled and husked
1/4 pound radishes (about 12 medium)
1/4 cup diced red onion
  1. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the cumin-garlic- salt mixture and lime juice in a small bowl. Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly.
  2. Prepare the salad by thinly slicing the pitted avocados, then carefully peeing away the skin form each slice. Put the avocado slices in a mixing bowl, pour 2 tablespoons of dressing over the top and stir gently to coat. Remove the avocado , draining the excess dressing back into the mixing bowl and arrange the slices on a serving platter.
  3. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the kernels away form the corn cob into the mixing bowl.
  4. Quarter the radishes lengthwise. If they are large, cut them in have widthwise. Add the radishes and onion to the corn in the bowl along with the remaining dressing and stir to coat well.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables form the dressing , draining the excess dressing back into the mixing bowl  Mound the vegetables in top of the avocados. Serve immediately.
Each serving =295 calories, 3 grams protein, 16grams carbs, 7 grams fiber 27 grams fat,4 grams saturated fat, 0 grams cholesterol, 793 mg sodium

Happy 4th of July! Do you have any tips to share?

(“US Flag” image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr User jnn1776)