As the 4th of July is approaching, many of us will be busting out our best Old Navy tees to go celebrate the USA's 241st year of independence, however, the 4th of July can be one of the most polluted days for our environment.

With the ample amounts of plastic and single-use products used this July 4th, much of that ends up in our oceans, even if it isn't directly dumped into the water.

I previously touched on the hazards of living in a plastic world in an article where I talked to marine biologist, Morgan Knowles. But the main point I can't stress enough from that article is, even if you aren't directly throwing your trash in the water, it still ends up there and it is negatively impacting our oceans.

fish, seafood, ice, mackerel
Erin Thomas

Recently, I connected with Morgan and asked her some simple things that people could do this 4th of July to reduce this pollution and she gave me 5 simple ways that each of us could be environmentally conscious. 

1. Skip the Solo Cups

milk, water
Madison Pessel

Sorry Toby Keith-you got your facts wrong, these aren't "14 years decomposable," it takes wayyyyy longer than that.  And as convenient as these cups may be, they are often found floating off shore and can be mistakenly eaten by our fishy friends. As an alternative, try using a reusable thermos or tumbler, like the really cute one they sell at Spoon University's Swag Shop! They keep your drink colder longer and don't waste as much plastic. 

2. Ditch the Polystyrene/Styrofoam Cooler

First off, these coolers rarely survive till the end of a party and they never manage to keep your food as cold as a reusable one. Pieces from these cheap coolers are one of Morgan's most  common things she finds in her beach clean ups. 

3. Don't use Straws

You really should just avoid single-use straws all the time considering their major impact on the environment. Morgan informed me that a lot of the plastic contained in the single-use straws isn't actually recyclable and just ends up in ocean. If you need a straw for your drink this 4th, try using a metal straw that you can reuse or one of those cute biodegradable paper straws. 

4. Avoid Single-Use Bags/Containers

cake, strawberry, cheesecake, chocolate
Mira Nguyen

As tempting as it may be to skip doing the dishes, single-use containers are just simply not great for the environment. Many states are now petitioning to ban these babies because of the adverse impact they can have.

5. Clean up

fish, pizza
Madison Pessel

Follow the old scouting days mantra of "leaving no trace behind." Pick up all of your party trash, like fireworks, as they too can really hurt our marine life. Leave the environment better than you found it by picking up the trash that others have left behind too. This simple act really does make a difference.

cream, cream cheese, cake
Kaitlyn Thayer

So there you have it, 5 super easy ways that you and your friends can save the planet while celebrating our nation's independence. With these small acts we can try and restore our oceans for another 241 years. Happy 4th of July!