Being Green

Thoughts on Green on The Fourth of July


The fourth of July holiday

The fourth of July holiday is traditionally spent watching fireworks and enjoying the outdoors with family. The relationship of the holiday which marks the day America declared its independence from Great Britain to the being green may not be clear. Many families spend their fourth of July grilling and among the dining selections include hot dogs, hamburgers, barbequed ribs and soda. While celebrating the holiday here are some thoughts on green.

The Grill

Let’s start with how the food on the menu gets prepared. During my childhood we used Charcoal Briquettes in our grill which tended to produce volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Charcoal is known to release benzene, a carcinogen, which is released by glowing charcoal and firewood embers.  Furthermore, charcoal produces fine, sooty particles which can lodge in lungs and irritate existing respiratory conditions like asthma. Today people use propane to power our grills which results a much lower amount of VOC’s emitted into the air.  This is a much better alternative for minimizing the pollutants in the air we breathe.

The Burger

What kind of picnic is possible have without a burger? A 1/3-pound burger requires 660 gallons of water to produce. A large portion of the water is used for producing the beef. Every pound of beef  requires 1,799 gallons of water, which includes irrigation of the grains and grasses in feed, plus water for drinking and processing. With our water supplies being stretched why not try Veggie Burgers as a water saving alternative? I have had them and they are rather tasty. Naturally, you would want to eat your burger on a bun which requires more than 10 gallons of water per bun which is required for producing the wheat.


Now that your burger is ready you will probably want something to wash it down. Often soda is the beverage of choice. The fizz in carbonated beverage is produced by adding carbon dioxide at high pressure during the soda production process. Interesting enough, the CO2 in carbonated drinks is the same CO2 which is spewed from tailpipes and power plants and causes global warming.  For the record, I am not trying to connect increased global temperatures to the CO2 emitted from drinking soda. Perhaps water could be consumed in place of soda instead using the resources to produce soda which had been proven to be detrimental to your health.

The Opportunity

Every holiday, in fact, every day is an opportunity to think about how we can be more conscious of our environment in regards to the item we consume and how they are produced. And now back to your traditional Fourth of July activities.