Sustainable Fourth of July

Celebrate America with a Sustainable Fourth of July

Cookouts, fireworks, and red solo cups are often the first things you think of when the Fourth of July comes around. America’s birthday is a much-anticipated holiday that can be very memorable and fun. However, after all the grilling, beach trips, get togethers, and firework shows, our country ends up getting polluted as a birthday present. There are many sustainable swaps that can be used during the holiday to have a lesser impact on the environment and continue to keep this great country beautiful.

Free July America photo and picture
Source: Pixabay


Grilling out and hosting a barbeque is a tradition for the Fourth of July. These delicious meals bring families and friends alike together. It is important to be conscientious about how these cookouts are hosted, as wasteful meals negatively impact the environment in many ways.


Source: UF Photo Database

While disposable plates, cups, and silverware are often the most convenient choice, these items will stick around in the environment for many decades to come. Instead of choosing plastic, opt for biodegradable products or even just use your normal reusable plates and silverware that you have at home. Use the resources below to learn more about recyclable and biodegradable products and brands.

Ditching Disposables – Ditching Disposables Toolkit

Healthier Food Serviceware Choices CEH

Sarasota County Sustainable Events Guide

Sustainable Food

Free Fruit Plums photo and picture
Source: Pixabay

The food at holiday parties can be delicious. To make this Fourth of July more sustainable, notice where your food is coming from. If possible, buy from local farmers or farmers markets. This not only helps the local economy, but it also produces less emissions and chemicals in food production.

Another important thing to keep in mind is food waste. Consider composting food scraps at the end of your cook-out. Save leftovers and send them home with guests to reduce food waste. This will prevent food from ending up in landfills, which releases more emissions.

Meat is usually a staple menu item during a Fourth of July cookout. If possible, consider switching a couple dishes to meatless or vegan options. There are plenty of yummy recipes that would be perfect for a holiday get together. If ditching the meat would get you in trouble with family, look into purchasing meat products from local businesses.

Free Moldova Drochia photo and picture
Source: Pixabay

Earth Friendly Beach Trips

Source: UF Photo Database


Many people plan beach or lake vacations around the Fourth of July, and the beaches get crowded. Lots of people will take a boat out to enjoy the day. It is important to pay attention to the trash we use, especially in marine environments. Oftentimes, plastics and other debris end up in the water and over time will break down microplastics, which are detrimental to animal health and the food chain.



Boating, either on the lake or in the ocean, can also have negative effects on marine life if not done correctly. Anyone participating in recreational boating should pay attention to wake zones and other protected wildlife environments. Around Sarasota, there are manatees and sea turtles that can be disrupted and even killed by reckless boating. You can find more information here.

Source: UF Photo Database

Fishing is another popular activity on the Fourth of July. To protect the wildlife and food supply in our waters, fishers should pay attention to marine life harvest limits and rules. All information regarding legal fishing can be found here. It is important to treat all marine animals with care and safety.


Fireworks are the star of the show during the Fourth. It is hard to imagine the holiday without fireworks, so it is important to be mindful when using sparklers, mini rockets, and other explosives. Carpooling to fireworks shows can help reduce air pollution and emissions. By being mindful of where fireworks are held, you can help protect certain environments and animals. Also, consider joining a cleanup crew the next morning to pick up firework debris. Sarasota will set off fireworks to celebrate the holiday, which is a great community event that is always a fun time. North Port is also hosting their annual Freedom Festival with a spectacular firework show (find more information By going to community firework events, you can save money on buying your own fireworks, reduce air pollution and still enjoy a great show.

Free Fireworks Pyrotechnics photo and picture
Source: Pixabay

The UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County Office wishes you a safe and sustainable Fourth of July! By switching over to more sustainable practices during the holiday, we can continue to preserve this beautiful country and celebrate the USA for years to come.

Additional Resources

Sustainability | Sarasota County, FL (

Sustainable Communities Workshop | Sarasota County, FL (

Sustainable Events Guide

UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County: Sustainability classes and events (





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Posted: June 27, 2024

Category: Conservation, Work & Life
Tags: America, Climate Change, Compost, Fourth Of July, Holiday, Pgm_Sustain, Recycle, Sustainability, UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County

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