The fall season is here, and Halloween is just around the corner. It’s time for carving pumpkins, handing out candy to trick-or-treaters and dressing up in costumes. All of these activities are fun and festive ways to celebrate the season; however, excessive waste and plastic use are often consequences of these activities.
The Earth does not have to be damaged in order to enjoy holiday celebrations. There are several alternatives to traditional plastic decorations and wasteful celebrations that can make fall festivities environmentally friendly.
Popular decorations for fall include plastic leaves, plastic pumpkins and yard signs. Many plastic decorations are hard to recycle and often end up in the trash. If the decorations are reusable, either save them for next year or donate them to a local thrift shop. To avoid using plastic completely, homemade decorations are a great option. The World Wildlife Foundation offers 10 Green Halloween Tips, including ideas for homemade decorations using common household materials.
A popular Halloween tradition, trick-or-treating, often involves plastic candy bags and handing out tons of individually-wrapped candies. An alternative to plastic trick-or-treat bags includes reusable tote bags or pillowcases. Avoid handing out plastic wrapped candies by purchasing candies packaged in cardboard. Packaging that can be recycled is better than plastic that will end up in landfills. There are also specific candy companies that use sustainable practices and packaging, such as Glee Gum and Endangered Species Chocolate.
Homemade costumes also help to reduce waste (See page 12). Instead of spending money on a new costume that will only be worn once, make one out of old clothing or past costume material. Buying costumes from second-hand stores will also save on money and natural resources.
One popular Halloween activity is carving pumpkins. Instead of throwing the insides away, use the pumpkin seeds to make a tasty fall treat. There are several available recipes online for roasted pumpkin seeds.
When the holiday is over and it’s time for clean-up, the best way to dispose of rotting jack-o-lanterns is to put them in a compost pile or garden.
If neither of those options are accessible, there are several recycling centers in the Springfield area that will take yard waste, including pumpkins. Local recycling centers include Lone Pine Recycling Center and Franklin Avenue Recycling Center.
For Missouri State University students and staff the campus garden, located at 930 E. Normal St., has a compost pile available to dispose of rotting pumpkins.
According to senior Alejandro Padron, an assistant manager of the garden, old pumpkins can be dropped off in front of the compost bin and he will handle it from there. The compost bin is located at the southeast side of the garden.
“Composting is important because there are still nutrients within organic items and when they are thrown in the trash they most likely end up in a landfill where the nutrients within the items are taken out of the nutrient cycle,” Padron said.
The possibility of waste and plastic pollution does not have to eliminate holiday celebrations. There are countless eco-friendly alternatives to make fall festivities fun and sustainable.
Follow Jenna Murray on Twitter, @Jenna_Murray5
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