Happy July 4th!

No posts today. Environmental News Bits will return on Monday. Wishing you a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Hat tip to my buddy Scott Butner for the photograph below. Check out more of his work on Flickr. Note that his photos are licensed under Creative Commons.

Fireworks over the Columbia River, 2007. Photograph by Scott Butner (licensed under Creative Commons).

Fireworks over the Columbia River, 2007. Photograph by Scott Butner (licensed under Creative Commons).

Green Halloween: costume swaps

Read the full story in Treehugger.

Halloween is two weeks away, so here’s a seasonal twist on the clothing swap. A Halloween costume swap is a not only a great way to save money, it’s also a great way to recycle. Costumes often only get used once or twice before kids grow out of them, and there’s often a lot of opportunity for Halloween accessories to be re-mixed. It’s another way to participate in the sharing economy, cutting down on consumption and be social.

Bombs Bursting in Air: Environmental Regulation of Fireworks

Read the full post at Legal Planet. Tip of the Cubs cap to Waterlibrarian, who shared it in the comments of another post.

It seems only fitting as we approach the Fourth of July holiday to turn our attention to the environmental impacts and regulation of fireworks.  As it turns out, our age-old patriotic tradition of exploding packages of toxic chemicals in the air is not without its environmental drawbacks.  Although much is still unknown about the environmental consequences of fireworks displays, it is clear that fireworks can adversely impact water quality, air quality, biological resources, and possibly even human health through debris, noise, and toxic contaminant pollution.  Fortunately, there are many ways regulators and citizens can mitigate the adverse impacts of fireworks.

The Elements of a Good Firework Show

Read the full story from USGS Science Features.

On the Fourth of July, people all across the country will gather for cookouts and firework shows commemorating the Nation’s birthday. Here in Washington, DC, more than half a million people are expected to gather for the annual pyrotechnic extravaganza on the National Mall. Fireworks shows feature spectacular colors, shapes and special effects that would not be possible without minerals! The same minerals that hold up buildings, power smart phones, and provide essential nutrients are the same ones that light up the sky on the Fourth of July.

Wishing all of you a happy and safe July 4!

The true cost of a holiday dinner

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

The holiday dinner has always been an occasion to gather family and friends together to enjoy a delicious feast. However, hosting a holiday dinner can come at a high cost — for the host’s pocket and for the environment.

Trucost analyzed the environmental impacts of 2 kg (4.4 lbs) turkey, 1 kg (2.2 lbs) potatoes and 1 kg sweet corn – the average quantities needed to make holiday dinner for a family of four. We examined the stages from farm to supermarket shelf, looking at the carbon and water footprints, and embedded waste and pollution, for each product. Trucost then calculated the natural capital cost of each of these impacts, applying the social carbon cost and the average cost related to water scarcity in the United States. The percentages on our graphic indicate the contribution each impact makes to the product’s total environmental impact.

Shareable’s Top 5 Alternatives to Holiday Shopping

Read the full post at Shareable.

The holidays don’t have to be about shopping. Let that simmer for a minute. It’s possible to coast through the season, spreading cheer and goodwill, expressing gratitude, celebrating abundance, connecting with loved ones near and far, and not get sucked up in the machine of over-consumption. Chances are, you have more stuff than you need, or a skill you can offer as a gift. Or maybe you’d rather make a donation or treat someone to an event. These gifts tend to be far more meaningful and valuable than the random gift-picking that takes place as holiday deadlines approach. Here are five shareable ways to celebrate the season while strengthening community, reusing goods and staying out of the mall.

12 Ways to Adopt the Sharing Economy This Holiday!

Read the full story at Shareable.

The sharing economy has spawned hundreds of websites all offering new methods for trading, bartering, renting, teaching, learning, riding, biking — you name it. With Facebook and Twitter you get a headstart on who you’re dealing with beforehand, making it more fun (and less awkward). Many of these sites are benefitting local communities, local commerce and all the while decreasing resource consumption.

This holiday season try out some alternatives to the usual. I guarantee you’ll learn, think and laugh your way into 2013 with a little bit of extra cash in your pocket. Some of these also make great alternatives to traditional gift ideas!

How to create less waste during the holidays

Read the full post at Mother Nature Network.

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25 percent, and this extra trash — mostly food, shopping bags, product packaging and wrapping paper — adds up to an additional 1 million tons of waste a week that’s sent to U.S. landfills, according to the EPA. Luckily, there are many steps you can take that will help you reduce your holiday trash — and even save some cash.