The Fourth of July is all about celebrating our nation’s birthday with family and friends. While preparing for your holiday weekend, don’t forget that keeping things green and protecting our environment over the holiday is just as fun as making the perfect apple pie or lighting up the grill. With this in mind, here are five ways you can add a little bit of green to your patriotic party and still have plenty of fun during your July 4th festivities.

Host a green BBQ: If you are planning a BBQ celebration, consider using clean-burning and sustainable fuel options like propane or hardwood lump charcoal. You can also keep dangerous chemicals and toxins out of your food by using a chimney starter instead of lighter-fluid to get the coals burning.

Another big step is to cut down on waste when hosting your BBQ. Try using biodegradable plates, cups and cutlery. Also, ask your guests to bring their food items in reusable containers. These small changes make a significant impact!

Add some green: Plant a tree with 7-Eleven’s Plant It Forward program, flowers or plants in honor of our nation’s independence. This green activity is not only a meaningful way to give back to our community and country, but a great way to freshen up an outdoor space and celebrate the summer season.  

Pay it forward: Take time on your long weekend to volunteer at a local animal shelter, veterans’ facility, homeless shelter, or other local charitable organization. This year, the holiday will create a four-day weekend for most Americans. Take advantage of having this time off and make a difference in your community. That’s what the American spirit is all about!

Use greener fireworks: Fireworks are a July Fourth tradition, but they are hardly an environmentally friendly activity. Once fireworks are done wowing us, they fall to the ground and release colorants, propellants and all kinds of other harmful pollutants that are detrimental to the planet. If you plan to set off your own fireworks this year, be sure to ask for fireworks rich in nitrogen.  Another option can include using perchlorate-free fireworks and eco-friendly floating lanterns. These colorful lamps can light up the night sky just as well, but they are also made from biodegradable and environmentally-safe materials.

Stay active: Get outdoors and be active during your July 4th weekend. If you an active person, spend the weekend participating in a variety of activities offered by your local community. Check out your city’s website to find out more information about the events going on in your local neighborhood. And if you’re worried about the summer humidity bringing mosquitoes, try using natural bug spray. You can enjoy being outside without using toxic bug repellants and reduce the energy costs of using indoor facilities.

The Fourth of July is a fun-filled summer holiday, but it can often make a negative impact to our environment. The holiday tends to create an enormous amount of trash, hazardous fireworks, and energy waste. While some traditions should be embraced, others can be tweaked so that future generations can enjoy both this holiday and this earth. Remember to celebrate not only our nation’s birthday, but also our nation’s environment!