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Greening and Vegetarian-izing Your Cinco de Mayo

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Though many think Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, it’s not (that’s Sept. 16). The real significance of the day is that it commemorates the Battle of Puebla, during which Mexican fighters defeated a French military force twice as large. Though it was Mexico’s win, the improbable David-and-Goliath victory has, in America, turned into a good excuse for people from all backgrounds to come together, drink, eat, and partake in general revelry.

Like the battle that inspired these colorful festivities, the environmental struggle we’re now engaged in is one that we can win, no matter how insurmountable it may seem. In that spirit, we’ve culled five tips that’ll help you keep your Cinco de Mayo green:

1. Drinks: We may as well admit it: “Cinco de Drinko” is in large part about imbibing. If you’re hosting a party and are serving beer, opt for a keg – but if you can’t get one, choose glass bottles over aluminum cans. For advice about which brews to buy, check out Sierra magazine's taste test of eco-friendly beers. For all your margarita needs, go for an organic brand of tequila like Casa Noble or 4 Copas. Avoid disposable cups, and recycle all glass, aluminum, and plastic.

2. Food: Mexican food is easy to vegetarian-ize, and beans or mushrooms can be excellent substitutes for beef, chicken, or pork. (Watch this great video to find out about the environmental benefits of going meatless once a week.) Whatever food you serve or eat, try to ensure that it’s organic and made of local, seasonal ingredients. If you’re entertaining, go for reusable plates and silverware; the disposable kind may be easier to deal with, but it’s making a mess of our world.

3. Culture: Practice your Spanish and learn how to make a difference by visiting the redesigned Sierra Club Spanish-language website, Ecocentro, at

4. Transportation: Since Cinco de Mayo falls on a Tuesday this year, you’ll likely have to commute from the office to whatever celebration you’ve chosen to attend. After being a good, green employee all day, carry those habits into the evening by walking, biking, carpooling, or hopping on public transit to the party.

5. Cleanup: If you’re lucky enough to live where it’s temperate enough to celebrate outdoors, make sure to carry out everything you carried in. Better yet, if you see someone else’s litter lingering after they leave, take that with you too lest it end up harming an animal or making our oceans’ problems worse.


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