Waste Management offers tips for a safe and sustainable July 4 holiday

Photo provided by MGN Online
Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 2:00pm

Just as family barbeques, fireworks and parties are being planned for Independence Day, Waste Management asks its customers to keep a few safety and environmental tips in mind.

For a greener barbecue
Waste Management urges consumers to consider using lump coal made from invasive tree species or harvested from sustainable managed forests. Additionally, petroleum-free charcoal starter is available for purchase at many household discount and hardware stores.

Properly disposing of those coals from your Independence Day barbecue can also make your holiday safer for yourself and your local trash-hauling crews.

“Just as those coals helped to get the fire started in your barbecue, they can also start a fire in your trash container or, once emptied into the back of one of our trucks, ignite the materials around it,” said Warren Guedry, Manager – Public Sector Solutions, Waste Management of Louisiana. “Coals that appear to be cooled can create an unsafe situation for you, your neighbors and our employees. Remember that coals can stay hot for hours, or even days, after you have finished using them.”

Coals or ashes fresh from the barbecue should never be disposed directly into your collection container or in your greenwaste container. Coals should be cooled for several days, and then placed in a metal container with a tight lid for proper disposal in your waste container. To speed up the cooling process, you can carefully place coals in a metal container full of water to “drown” them like you would a campfire. Remember: never place coals – even if you think they’re cool - in plastic, paper or wood containers.

Proper disposal of fireworks debris
Fireworks also require special handling when the celebration is over. The National Council on Fireworks Safety advises soaking used fireworks in water and letting them sit for 15 minutes before disposal. Dispose of all firework debris, used matches, wrappers, etc. in your trash can to prevent littering and water contamination from gunpowder residue.

Furthermore, fireworks spew gunpowder, heavy metals and accelerants into our air. To help improve air quality and still enjoy the fireworks festivities, avoid setting off personal displays, and check out your local area’s show. You can also encourage your city officials to start using more environmentally friendly fireworks methods.

Greening that red, white and blue party
4th of July parties are another great opportunity to show your patriotism for the planet. Here are some eco-friendly party tips to help you go red, white, and green:
• Each year, Americans toss out enough paper and plastic cups, forks and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. Using reusable dishware is always best, but if that’s not practical, try to buy environmentally friendly, disposable tableware instead. Look for products made out of renewable and biodegradable materials like sugar cane and bamboo, or ones made from 100 percent recycled materials.
• When entertaining, be sure to provide a convenient, clearly marked receptacle for recycling next to any trash cans. To be even greener, add a bin for food scraps that you can compost later.
• Think locally when planning your menu. Shipping ingredients from another part of the world requires a tremendous amount of fuel. Look to your nearest farmers' market for in-season fruits and vegetables, as well as meat, eggs, and dairy products. They're fresher, taste better, and are oftentimes priced the lowest.
• Use aluminum foil instead of plastic wrap to cover and store food. Clean foil can be crumpled up and tossed into the recycling bin, making it the better option.
• Scrap your traditional paper party invitations and go digital. Online evites are often free, and help cut back on the four billion trees forested each year for paper products.
• Encourage guests to car pool; it helps save time, money and the environment. Let guests know who else is coming from their area, and offer to put them in contact with someone who might be able to give them a ride, or might appreciate getting a ride from them.

“With just a little extra effort, local area residents can have a safe, fun and eco-friendly 4th of July,” said Warren. “We know summer is a fun and busy time, and hope these simple tips will help keep thinking green a priority.” 

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