Tips for making July 4 parties earth-friendly

Roots of Change, a San Francisco think tank that funds projects for a sustainable food system, points out some ways to celebrate independence in a sustainable manner.

First, be a supporter of local farmers – and of the restaurants and markets where you can find their products. Eat Well Guide and Buy Fresh Buy Local are websites that will help you locate these enterprises.Second, add veggie kebabs to your event. So many people enjoy outdoor grilling, but the good news it doesn’t have to involve meat. This July 4 falls on a Monday, so having a mushroom-onion-greenpepper-eggplant kebab also honors Meatless Monday. Third, reduce waste. Did you know you can buy biodegradable plates, napkins, and even cutlery? They can all go in your compost bin after the festivities, or your city compost bin if your city collects compostables. Same for table scraps.

I’m sure there are other ways to honor earth on Independence Day, but these three are a start. Actually, you could omit the barbecue altogether. According to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Each July 4, 60 million people light their barbecue grills, burning the equivalent of 2,300 acres of forest, emitting nearly 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

If you’re going to cook something outside, why not use a solar oven instead? These gizmos are portable boxes that concentrate sunlight to heat the cooking space to about 300 degrees. Foggy areas like San Francisco’s Great Highway area or Pacifica or western Marin may not be the likeliest places to try solar cooking, but most places in the Bay Area get enough sun to make one of these solar ovens pay for itself over time.

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