As the 4th of July approaches, Americans find their favorite red, white, and blue attire, displaying signs of patriotism and freedom through face-painted flags and festive headbands. Soon, picnic tables will be filled with hamburgers, potato salads, coleslaw, and desserts. Of course, to end the evening, bright displays of fireworks burst amongst the sky in booming celebration.
However, in our enthusiasm to celebrate our country, an often-overlooked aspect is the logistical processes it takes to get these items and the environmental impact of these very celebrations – from unethical sourcing to air pollutants to issues like port delays and uncertain weather patterns.
So, with that in mind, let’s dive into a few ways to drive efficiency through our patriotic supply chain processes and ensure a sustainable holiday celebration.
Conscious Celebration: The Ooh’s and Ah’s of Emotions and Emissions
One of the top memories for Americans every 4th of July are the amazing firework spectacles in the sky. There’s a certain magic that comes from bursts of light filling the sky, but, unfortunately, it is also filled with other hazardous materials, like metal-tainted smoke, propellents, colorants, and other heavy metals, all leading to air pollution. In fact, on July 5th, there are 42% more pollutants in the air, majorly caused by firework shows. With hundreds of thousands of shows occurring across the country, these celebrations can cause great detriment.
In addition, while Americans are celebrating independence, our firework displays are quite dependent on outsourced materials from multiple countries, especially China. According to Maggie Davis, in 2022, China accounted for 97.4% of the United States’ firework imports, estimating to $580.3 million in value. With heavy reliance and stress being put on the transportation of a significant aspect to the celebration, shipping costs, port delays, and weather events can put a damper on the holiday.
To negate the risk of delayed celebrations and hazardous environmental effects, an alternative is drones. Due to wildfire concerns, many cities and states in the West have utilized companies like Hire UAV Pro, based in Denver, Colorado, to use drones to produce synchronized light displays. The drones are programmed to perform light effects, animations, and even dances, and the company says that its light shows take up the entire sky, going up to 400 feet and spreading out hundreds of feet, depending on the number of drones.
Therefore, when trying to source from homegrown companies with little carbon footprint, the benefits are clear: drones can still provide the patriotic magic while producing no air pollutants, and being reusable.
Sustainable Sourcing: Minimizing Your Celebration’s Footprint
Grilling and 4th of July are an American dream team, as some say, as it’s become quite a tradition to ‘fire up the grill’ for juicy burgers and roasted vegetables. However, in doing so, one key aspect of this is often overlooked: the sourcing and environmental impact of the very food we’re serving.
Michel Roger, Global SAP Supply Chain Leader at Accenture, has much to say on the subject, stating that people outside supply chain organizations are getting more and more savvy on supply chain and its impacts globally on sustainability which drive simple day to day food or merchandise shopping for events like the 4th of July. Consumers are starting to understand and see the impact of climate change on food supply chain, as it is the most sensitive aspect of the climate change observed by many, with around 30% of year to year fluctuations in tons of crops grown per hectare were due to changes in the climate. Therefore, sustainable choices become even more important for seasonal events like 4th of July, which drive up demand for items like snacks, drinks and BBQ items.
With consumers becoming more aware of their actions and choices, especially in industries that have a high contribution to carbon emissions, companies are now turning towards advanced technology to not only provide that visibility to their end consumer but change their processes from the inside-out drive sustainable and safe operations. Roger continues, stating one of the most important aspects of the US 4th of July holiday is what meat are you cooking on the grill. This year, as consumers go to the market, they will see all beef prices raising dramatically. Bringing these external causal factors in the supply-demand balancing technology solution combined with external weather factors can help companies better anticipate consumptions peak and patterns, proactively minimize emissions coming from transportation, and evaluate suppliers based on their sustainability practices, like labor conditions, soil utilization, water recycling, support to local communities and management of environmental impacts of the production process with hazardous material management. All these capabilities are enabled through technologies and can be used continuously to improve sustainability practices, especially for holidays like Independence Day.
Preserving the Holiday for Future Generations
So, while Americans across the country celebrate independence, consumers and companies can begin to make conscious decisions on not only making the country a better place but ensuring that it’s here to stay. As Marina Maletic says best, if we don’t respect the land our nation is on, we might not have very long left to celebrate it.
To learn more about how to get on the path to a Risk Resilient and Sustainable supply chain, download the Oxford Economics Research.