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Make More With Less This 4th of July

With the 4th of July just around the corner, memories of large gatherings, elaborate food spreads, colorful face paint, and booming fireworks flood back.  If you’re anything like us, your love of the art of celebration is unfortunately discolored with distaste for the amount of waste holidays generate. Garbage strewn astray. Food scraps left lingering on the grass. The Magic Great-American-Holiday-Industrial-Complex Fairy will just make it all disappear, right?  

In the past, we gave you some of our favorite sustainable drinking options for your Independence Day celebrations.  This year, we wanted to touch on the food side of the equation.  We have a unique opportunity right now to define a new normal for our country and world. The 4th of July holiday will not look as it always does, that we know for sure.  How can being forced to celebrate differently help us learn how to do it better? Then, as our celebrations scale back up as social proximity becomes safe, so will the impact of our choices. Let’s take advantage of this year’s pause to be more thoughtful for the years to come. 

We reached out to some of our favorite fellow sustainability nerds to weigh in and share some tips on how to have a safe and sustainable 4thThanks to Kristy (@browngirl_green) and The Zero Grocery Team (@zerogrocery_)!

Make a Game Plan in Advance for your Food Shopping, Serving, and Sharing!

Step 1) Start with how many people you will be making or buying food for. 

With COVID-19, you will only be planning for very few people, which is great practice for when potlucks and larger gatherings become possible again! 

Step 2) Before you go shopping, make a list.

This list will help cut down on waste by enabling you to strictly buy the ingredients you need while also giving you the opportunity to minimize the amount of plastic/pre-packaged products you purchase.  

For example, try putting together your own fruit and veggie trays by buying the actual fruits and veggies rather than purchasing a pre-packaged kit.  You’ll be cutting down on your plastic use while making some trays that taste fresh and unique! 

Step 3) Purchase your ingredients

Execute your shopping list by supporting vendors that align with your social and environmental values.  

Step 4) BYO Dining/Serveware.  

If you are meeting up with others (outdoors, and socially distant!), communicate a plan where people bring their own reusable plates, cups, and utensils from home. This won’t only give the virus less vectors to spread, it will avoid buying tons of single-use plastic plates, cups, and utensils.  Win/Win! 

Clean Up Without Throwing Out & Upcycle What You Can 

Even with your awesome plan and near-flawless execution you will likely end up with some food leftover at the end of the day. No need to worry! We are human too. Here are some clean up tips that will keep food from being waste:

1. Provide containers for people to transport leftovers home with them so that the extra food is eaten. No food waste! 

2. Save the stems and scraps of fruits and vegetables to upcycle. 

They can be creatively repurposed into other food and drink recipes (think teas, vegetable broths, stir fris, juices, and even sorbets)!! 

Here are a few recipes to get you started….

Upcycled Strawberry Leaf Tea 

– Reuse strawberry leaves and mix them in a tea bag with your other loose leaf black tea

– Steam almond milk or oat milk and mix into the tea

– Add a little agave or vanilla for taste

(thanks @browngirl_green for the delicious recipe)

Upcycled Watermelon Rind Juice

 -Add rinds and water to a pot and let it simmer for about an hour.

-Strain, add sweetener to taste, and let it cool. Voila!  A great refreshing summer drink!

(thanks @zerogrocery_)



 Upcycled Peach Sorbet (any fruit will work!!)

– Ingredients: 8 oz peaches (peeled), 3-4 tbsp maple syrup, lemon juice

– Cut up fruits into ½ inch cubes and freeze completely

– Place the frozen peach cubes in a small food processor, pulse to crush them into small pieces and add the syrup, a tbsp at a time (while pulsing) to create a smooth sorbet-like paste

– Add a squeeze of lemon juice and mix for a couple more seconds

– Serve immediately or store in the freezer until you’re ready!

(thanks again @zerogrocery_)

3. Compost the food scraps that you can’t repurpose or save as leftovers.

Let’s Make America The Land of The Waste Free! 

We have the power to create a new normal for Independence Day–one that is centered around looking out for our fellow people and the world we inhabit together.  What will you be doing to help create this new reality at your celebration?  Let us know!

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