Whether they swizzle, pop or bang, fireworks are usually the main attraction at every 4th of July celebration. But as much as we love those red, white and blue declarations of independence, our clear skies above do not (and our furry friends agree).
With this summer holiday just around the corner, the KB Home team is sharing some ways to celebrate the day without compromising the environment.
Whose Idea Was This Anyway? Why We Celebrate the 4th of July with Fireworks.
Credit John Adams. It was his intention that the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence be celebrated with “illuminations” and beginning in 1777, orange firecrackers marked the event. Colored fireworks, like those we use today, emerged in the 1830s.
Why Fireworks are Bad News for the Environment.
Turns out those brilliant illuminations are actually a chemical cocktail. The gunpowder used to launch fireworks contains charcoal, sulfur fuel, potassium nitrate and perchlorates. (I have a rule: if I can’t pronounce it or spell is, I don’t want to breathe it!) The smoke from fireworks contains small metal particles, which are responsible for producing color, and include strontium (red), aluminum (white), copper (blue), rubidium (purple), barium (green), and cadmium (various colors). Some of these chemicals end up in our lakes and water sources, on the ground, or linger in the air. Not such a pretty sight, after all!
Fortunately, there are other ways to light up your holiday that don’t include polluting our air and water. Here are some earth-conscious ways to enjoy the 4th of July:
Eco-Friendly Alternatives That Sparkle and Delight (For Kids and Kids-at-Heart):
1. Toys that go POP. Toy poppers are a great kid-friendly option. You can find simple plastic disks that pop up after being turned inside out, or more sophisticated cylinder tubes (alternately called toy crackers, Christmas crackers or toy poppers) that pop open with confetti, small toys and charms, and/or candy. You’ll also find a host of how-to sites online if you want to make your own versions for very young children or to personalize the contents.
2. Stuff that glows. Glow sticks can bring a little light into your holiday. You can find versions in necklaces, bracelets and wands. The necklaces can also be a good way to keep track of family members in a crowd if you visit a theme park or outdoor gathering that attracts a lot of people.
3. Paper sparklers. For kid-safe sparklers without the flame, try this DIY project from say yes that uses festive straws and colored paper.
4. Community Party/Pool Party/Barbeque. Skip the fireworks display and make the main event a neighborhood gathering or private party. Early July is a great time to throw a pool party and if you live in a community like The Villas at Copperleaf (Aurora, Colorado), a shared pool is the perfect place to gather. In communities that offer barbecue areas, like the Lotus community (Orange County, California), you can fire up the grill while you enjoy the day with neighbors. (Remember to check in with your local HOA when planning any type of party.)
5. Red, White and Blue Food. You’d be surprised what can substitute for patriotic food. One year I filled a mason jar with red, white and blue jelly beans. It was a great snack and also a pretty table centerpiece. (Who knew candy could multi-task?) Buy a star-shaped cookie cutter and you can instantly turn simple sandwiches into Fourth of July fare.
6. Reusable Plates. Whether you’re throwing a neighborhood bash or hosting a family get-together, just say no to plastic or paper plates. Most disposable plates are not recyclable once they’ve been contaminated with food. Instead, skip single-use plates and choose lightweight glass dinnerware like Corelle® Vitrelle® plates and bowls. You’ll help the environment even more when you wash those dishes in a WaterSense® Whirlpool® dishwasher, standard in every new KB Home.
7. Decorate Yourself. We all know the person who wears giant flag earrings or dons the occasional tri-color top hat. (And there’s nothing wrong with that.) For the rest of us, there are less conspicuous ways to announce your inner patriot. It’s easy to wear red, white and blue clothes (you’ve already got a head-start if you’re in blue jeans). A bandana is a simple way to add one of the three holiday colors. You’ll find that many local retailers offer a 4th of July edition t-shirt each year for men, women and children.
8. It Takes a Village… to Enjoy Fireworks. Gather a large group of friends and neighbors and watch a nearby public fireworks display together. The fewer private displays across the country, the better for our environment.
Want to Celebrate Your Independence?
Say goodbye to rental payments, and hello to the freedom of home ownership. Now that sounds like independence! Buy a new KB home and enjoy the perks of an energy-efficient home in a vibrant new community. To see available homes near you, please visit kbhome.com. Have a Happy 4th – we hope your celebration is a real sparkler!
A.J. Bowker is a contributing writer to From House to Home. She has lived on the East Coast, in the Midwest, and is now settled in Southern California. One thing she has learned from living in various parts of the country: home is a state of mind.