Tuesday, October 23, 2012

10 Green HalloweenTips

Halloween! The staff at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher loves the frightening, fun festivities and decorations that accompany this time of year.  Visions of skeleton pirates, zombie divers and scary sea creatures dance in our heads. 

Yet, by far the most frightening thing about Halloween is the incredible amounts of waste and plastics created, used and discarded in connection with the holiday. Unfortunately, when the spooky fun ends, too much trash ends up in our landfills and polluting our waterways and ocean.

1.        Here are 10 ways you can put some green-think into your Halloween:

1.  Skip the Scary Plastic:Store-bought costumes are an easy way to get scary; but what’s scarier is that mass-produced ready-to-wear costumes from the supermarket are often made with non-recyclable chemicals and synthetic fibers that are not biodegradable. Upcycle a costume instead! Use old or donated clothing to make your costume. Make it a family project and you create memories and something original, without all the plastic and paper waste.

2.       Host a Creepy Community Costume Swap: Make it a party, invite the neighbors and foster environmental consciousness all at the same time. Your old dusty prom dress just became someone else’s awesome new “Bride of Frankenstein” costume! Register a swap date online at: https://www.greenhalloween.org/CostumeSwap/register.html

3.       Reuse a Trick or Treat Tote: Don’t buy a new plastic jack-o-lantern just to use one night. Lug your treats with a reinvented pillow case. They always hold more candy anyway! Already have an orange jack-o-lantern bucket? Use it again this year, then again next year (and the next)!

4.       Buy in Bulk: Look for candy with less packaging. This will cut down on waste and give you more for your money. Think little mini boxes versus large individually, plastic-wrapped treats. Look for brands that use recycled or recyclable packaging.

5.       Recycle the Wrapper: Approximately 598 million pounds of candy are consumed every year around Halloween, according to a report issued by Nielsen several years ago. That’s a lot of candy and a lot of trash. What to do with all the “trash” after you’ve indulged in your sweet tooth? Recycle as much of it as you can! You can bring your candy wrappers to the Aquarium and we send them to TerraCycle to be repurposed into items like purses and bags.
Upcycled candy wrapper bag from TerraCycle

6.       Keep Your Eco-Footprint Local: Purchase a pumpkin at a nearby farm. This supports the local economy and significantly reduces the fuel used for transportation in comparison to pumpkins that are mass-shipped to supermarkets.

7.       More Pumpkin, Please: When carving your pumpkin, save the seeds to make a delicious spiced or roasted fall treat. Once Halloween comes and goes, compost the fruit and to keep it out of landfills.

8.       Exercise, Don’t Drive: Instead of driving from house-to-house or street-to-street: walk! Saves gas and help take a load off the calorie spike accompanying all of those treats.

9.       DIY D├ęcor: Halloween is the second biggest decorating holiday after Christmas, according to the National Retail Federation. Why spend money on non-recyclable products, with excess packaging? Keep it simple. Upcycle everyday household items to give them a spooky makeover. Use old sheets and some leaves or newspaper to make ghosts. Go natural with corn husks, gourds and pine cones, all of which are 100 percent compostable.

10.   Keep it Up:  No need for green behaviors to end after the 31st. Keep it going all year. If you’ve never composted, the harvest season is a great time to begin. Use fallen leaves, pine cones, corn kernels and old jack-o-lanterns to start. Use simple do-it-yourself decorations and recycled crafts for holiday decorating in December, February or any time. Keep it local. Support organic markets whenever you can, and when you can’t, select minimal packaging and biodegradable products.

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