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Labor Day is coming this Monday! Many of us celebrate the American labor movement and the end of the Summer by getting together (this year maybe not so together) for a delicious barbecue. Why not make it green? Also, to better enjoy these last Summer days, why not go out for some Eco-friendly activities? This is a long weekend full of cookouts and fun with family. What better time to get everyone in the green living mode than around some grilled food, when everyone is remembering how great the outdoors are this time of year? Below are 5 ways to GREEN your Labor Day.

Avoid disposable as much as you can

Disposables may make your life a little more convenient, but the process of making paper or plastic cups, plates, and plastic utensils is harmful to the environment.

Companies cut down trees for paper products, or consume significant energy making plastic, then burn fuel shipping those disposable products all over the world. When you’re done with the spoon, it will probably end up in a landfill.

Reduce your party waste by using reusable cups, dishes, and utensils when you host gatherings.

Reuse decorations from last year

Instead of buying new decorations and displays for your party, consider upcycling what you already have. For example, you could use old hubcaps to support flower arrangements, or turn an old throw into a makeshift tablecloth.

Don't crank up the AC

Depending on where you live, Labor Day may well be one of the last truly hot days of the summer.

If you’re sensitive to the heat, you might be tempted to bring everyone inside and crank the air conditioning. Unfortunately, air conditioning can produce some harmful byproducts and it demands significant amounts of electricity.

Although some of us in the United States have the option to select renewable energy sources for our electricity, most of us don’t. About 83 percent of electricity is generated from fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

The good news is that modern air conditioners no longer use the ozone-crushing chlorofluorocarbons that contributed significantly to climate change. Even with the most efficient model on the market, your carbon footprint is lower if you celebrate outside in the shade, but if you must be inside, keep your air conditioning at a moderate temperature.

Go for the outdoor activities

Rather than watching everyone sit around on their cell phones or sitting inside taking up electricity, get people involved in some outdoor sports that take more human fuel than non-renewable fuel, if the weather permits. Games like volleyball, horseshoes, darts, croquet, bocce ball, Frisbee, soccer or badminton all have reusable equipment and can be played with some space in the backyard and good ol’ human energy.

Grill eco-friendly

Try to grill with gas, which burns cleaner than wood or charcoal. If you’re a wood-burning devotee, opt for Rainforest Alliance Smartwood program’s certified grilling wood chips. After grilling, wood ash can be used in the garden in conservative amounts, but charcoal ash will need to be disposed of. Also, when you’re done grilling your veggies, throw any leftovers into a compost pile. Don’t clean your grill with harsh, unnatural grill cleaners. Cleaning the grate before cooking by using baking soda paste and a wire brush will do the job. Also, try to scrape the grill while it’s hot in order to clean it easier. When in doubt, consider investing in an eco-friendly grill, like the ones you can find here.

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