Celebrate Your Independence From Waste!

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Celebrate Your Independence From Waste!

july Forget the disposable decorations, foam plates and paper napkins. You can throw a green-minded party that's just as fun as any other! Fourth of July, backyard barbeques, block parties and graduation parties are fun for all but one when it comes to waste: the environment. Here are some ideas on how to cut down on unnecessary waste and have a party-filled summer that won't leave anyone feeling guilty!



  • Forget the themed paper invitations. Save paper and a few bucks by sending an electronic invitation.


  • Decorations are almost always disposable and tossed immediately after an event. Opt for reusable, classic decorations that can be used year after year for any occasion, such as string lights or general banners.
  • Make your own decorations from scrap paper or newspapers you have laying around the house.
  • Mason jars, old paint cans and empty glass bottles can be painted and repurposed as vases, decorative pieces, candle holders, etc.


  • Grow your own fruits and vegetables or buy locally sourced food (fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy) for your party!
  • Buy whole fruits and vegetables to cut at home over pre-cut, packaged fruits and vegetables.
  • Skip the snacks in single use plastic containers and buy in bulk to make your own snack servings.
  • Don't forget your reusable bags when you go shopping.
  • Ask your guests to bring their own reusable containers to bring home any leftover food. It's the party favor that keeps on giving!


  • Use reusable plates, cutlery, cups and cloth napkins so everything can be washed and reused for the next extravaganza.
  • Instead of soda cans, mix up a pitcher of lemonade or iced tea garnished with herbs or citrus rinds, and skip the plastic straws!


  • Have garbage, recycling and compost (if possible) bins easily accessible and clearly labeled for your guests explaining what is allowed in each bin.

Have a fun and safe 4th of July!



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Is there a topic you'd like to learn more about? Or a public event or workshop related to recycling (organics, textiles, traditional recyclables, etc.) you'd like the greater community to know about? E-mail us at organicrecycling@dec.ny.gov