Have an eco-friendly Halloween and aim for zero-waste this October

October 28, 2019 by  
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Holidays and celebrations can take a toll on the environment. Between waste and consumption, Halloween festivities leave behind a giant carbon footprint. But with a little purposeful planning, your holiday can be fun and eco-friendly at the same time.  Go plastic free Obviously plastic is problematic for the planet from the petroleum used in production to the lack of sustainable disposal options. With some foresight you can mostly avoid plastic in favor of alternatives. For costumes, shop local or make your own so you can see plastic parts and avoid shipping packaging. Make costumes from natural fibers such as organic cotton or hemp. Use accessories of metal or wood. Swap out plastic trick-or-treat buckets with pillow cases or reusable shopping bags. Related: Light your pumpkins the EEK-o-friendly way this Halloween Multi-purpose decor One way to cut back on the “stuff” you accumulate for the holiday is to think seasonally. Focus on decor that can serve throughout the fall season rather than just until Halloween. Hay bales, corn stocks, pumpkins, gourds and potted plants create a welcoming display at the front door that is both sustainable and inviting well past Thanksgiving. Inside the home, target the classic sights, sounds and smells of fall with pumpkin spice candles, reflective glass displays and wreaths from burlap, straw or herbs. Organic plant-based food Holidays are for celebrating with friends and Halloween is the perfect time to invite your favorite witches and demons over for a party. Since it’s always in season to be nice to the planet, plan your party around organic (no pesticides and other toxins in the water and soil), plant-based (sans the carbon footprint of meat production) food . Make taco dip with tortilla headstones, adorable pumpkin cookies, a veggie platter in the shape of a skeleton or individual spider pizzas. Save gas Reducing gas consumption avoids the need for more oil drilling and limits your contribution to air pollution. Pick up your party supplies in advance when you are already running other errands to avoid extra trips to the store. Also, stay in your neighborhood for trick or treating if possible. Zero waste Aim for zero waste during Halloween as a challenge to yourself and your family. Work together to brainstorm ways to keep trash from taking over the holiday. Using the real plates and utensils is a great start, but you can avoid the need for dinnerware altogether by creating a menu consisting only of finger foods. Drag out the cloth napkins, too. Avoid throwing out your costume at the end of the holiday by using recyclable materials such as cardboard or save the outfit for another occasion. Be sure to donate or resell when it’s time for the final goodbye. Go second hand If Halloween is really your season to shine and you enjoy widespread decorating, spend some time at the local thrift shop where holiday decor comes in year-round. While you might still end up with non eco-friendly materials like plastic , giving those items a second life keeps them out of landfills. This is also true for costumes, lawn decorations and clothing. Tricks and treats Candy has become an integral part of the holiday and you can enjoy a treat without contributing to wasteful consumption. Start by setting a reasonable limit. While it’s fun to be out with the kids on Halloween, the treats they gather shouldn’t last until Valentine’s Day. There’s not much you can do about the plastic you’ll acquire during your trip around the neighborhood, but you can do your part when it comes to making a conscience choice about what you hand out at your door. Shop from fair trade companies and look for sustainable packaging. Also consider non-candy items or offer up a trick instead. Cut the electric bill You can enjoy your party without a spike in electrical use by making a few simple changes. Skip the TV shows and music and consider cutting the electricity all together. Halloween is the perfect occasion to take the party outside to celebrate around a wood fire under the stars and the harvest moon. Drop some submersible LED lights in the bottom of the apple dunk barrel and use solar lights to create paths or designate gathering areas. If the weather in your area isn’t cooperating with a nature party, bring it inside for a blackout party instead. Grab the solar lights from the yard and further illuminate the space with beeswax candles displayed on reflective metal or glass plates. For entertainment, share spooky stories and explain the history of the holiday to the younger generations.  Halloween is a ghoulishly fun holiday, but it doesn’t have to have a gastly impact on the planet. Set an example for your kids, guests and neighbors with thoughtful decor, costumes and party ideas that just may inspire them to make Halloween a real treat for the planet, too. Images via Shutterstock

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Have an eco-friendly Halloween and aim for zero-waste this October

10 healthy Halloween treats to make this October

October 25, 2019 by  
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Halloween is notorious for one thing: candy. While it is expected for everyone to indulge every once in a while, most people choose to forget about their health completely when it comes to Halloween , using the holiday as an excuse to eat too many artificial sweets. We’ve rounded up a list of 10 healthier options for Halloween party treats that are good for you while still maintaining the spooky holiday spirit. Bell pepper jack-o’-lanterns The best way to trick (and treat) your kids into eating their vegetables this Halloween has to be these quirky bell pepper jack-o’-lanterns. Carefully use a small paring knife or cookie cutter to cut the classic jack-o’-lantern shape into fresh bell peppers. Get creative with different shapes for the mouth, eyes and nose. Stuff the tops with salad or fresh veggie sticks and serve with a side of homemade hummus or balsamic dressing. Save any extra bell peppers in the fridge to use in a stir fry or soup the next day. Chicken, bison or plant-based meatball eyeballs Swapping beef for ground chicken, 100 percent grass-fed bison or veggies and beans in a meatball recipe is a leaner, healthier alternative. Pop on some sliced olives to turn your meatballs into eyeballs, or stick thinly sliced bell peppers into the sides to make them look like spiders. Place your meatballs on a bed of your favorite homemade sauce with either zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash or brown rice pasta. Vegan cupcakes Take your favorite vegan cupcake recipe (we suggest our Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes ) and spice it up with a little Halloween flair. Top the cupcakes with delicious Greek yogurt frosting and fresh strawberry or raspberry compote for a blood-colored statement, or mix in some all-natural food coloring. Turmeric makes a good substitution for orange food coloring and matcha for green if you want to go with a pumpkin theme. Apple monsters Cut up some green apples into slices and sandwich your favorite nut butter in between. Stick in sunflower seeds to look like pointy monster teeth and add a sliced strawberry tongue. Instead of candy googly eyes, make eyeballs out of blueberries or grapes, and stick them into the tops of the apples with toothpicks.  Pumpkin soup witch’s brew Swap a regular bowl for a hollowed-out pumpkin tureen , and add a Halloween-themed topping to go along with your pumpkin soup. Use a bat-shaped cookie cutter to create bats out of whole-grain toast for dipping, or make a spider web shape out of crème fraîche to get extra festive. To double up on the party snacks, roast the pumpkin seeds from the tureen with salt, and set them out for your guests. Mandarin orange pumpkins and banana ghosts These little mandarin orange “pumpkins” are packed with vitamin D, and the accompanying banana “ghosts” are full of potassium . But the best part about making them? It is so easy, the whole family can join in. Peel mandarin oranges and stick a small slice of celery into the top to create the pumpkin stems. Use nut butter as a glue to place dark chocolate chips as the eyes and mouth on halved bananas for a ghostly face. Veggie dog mummies Swap classic hot dogs for vegan or veggie dogs for this flaky, filling recipe. Buy a pre-made dough or make your own, and cut it into strips before wrapping it around your hot dogs for a mummified look. Place your mummies on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until the dogs are hot all the way through and the dough is golden brown. Homemade ketchup or honey mustard go great for dipping. Olive spiders Olives are high in antioxidants, healthy fats and vitamin B, not to mention they are low in cholesterol and high in fiber — a recipe for good gut and heart health. Connect two olives, one large and one small, together with a toothpick. Stick dried spaghetti pasta into the sides for legs (don’t forget to save the pasta to cook later so it doesn’t go to waste !). Candy or caramel apples Make your own caramel or candy apples using organic ingredients, and choose healthier toppings such as dark chocolate, chopped almonds, chopped dates, dried fruit or coconut flakes. For a party-friendly dish, arrange apple slices on a Halloween platter and drizzle with caramel sauce in a creepy, spider-web design. Mashed cauliflower ghosts Going low-carb this Halloween? Mashed cauliflower is a super healthy alternative to mashed potatoes. Spoon your mash into a piping bag to help shape it into ghost form and decorate with cut chives, black olives, peas or sesame seeds. To make sure they hold their shape, you can opt to bake or broil them in the oven for a few minutes until the mash is firm. Images via Shutterstock

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A guide to going green for the back-to-school season

August 9, 2019 by  
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As summer comes to a close, our focus shifts to back-to-school. There’s so much to do between registering, shopping, picking up supplies and coordinating all the activities filling the calendar. If you’re looking for ways to act more sustainably this school year, we’ve got you covered in multiple areas. Transportation We all know that using our cars consumes fossil fuels and leaves a carbon tire print. Unless you live in a town that shuttles kids to school via electric trolley, it’s hard to figure out a sustainable way to transport the kiddos back and forth. This is a case of progress over perfection, and remember that every act helps. Related: The Akshar Foundation is creating sustainable schools to teach children important life skills Walking and biking are the most sustainable ways to get to school. Older kids can trek off on their own or with a group of friends. Escort younger kids and get in your exercise, too. If you don’t live close enough for biking or walking, consider the public transit system. The buses and subways are running, so using them instead of your car staves off air pollution . The same goes for the gas-guzzling school bus. It will run the route every day whether kids ride or not, so it’s a more eco-friendly option to take advantage of the bus service instead of driving each day. If driving is your only option, set up a carpool before and after school to minimize the number of cars going to the same place. Be sure to shut off the engine while you wait at the bus stop or school. Clothing One of the only things many kids get excited about when heading back to school is the new school clothes. As you know, though, clothing doesn’t have to be new to be hip, cool or trendy. Head out to the thrift shop to scour the options. When you do buy new, look for organic cotton, bamboo and other natural fabrics . For a fun option, host a clothing swap party. You know your daughter is constantly trading clothes with her friends anyway, and it’s the perfect opportunity to clean out the closet before the school year begins. Have everyone bring their pre-loved clothing, belts, handbags and shoes to the party, where they can reconnect with each other as summer comes to a close and maybe find some new clothes they love at the same time. Lunches Sometimes getting kids to eat healthy food at home is enough of a challenge, but mix that with portability and the fact that you’re not there to supervise, and lunchtime might start to feel like you’re playing the lottery. Let your kids have a say in what they want to take for lunches, but set boundaries. Remember the toddler stage when they got to make their own decisions about which of the two outfits they would like to wear that day? Same concept. Offer healthy meal and snack options, from which your child can choose. Make lunchbox-friendly entrees in advance, freeze items for easy grab-and-go snacks and breakfasts, re-package bulk items ahead of time and make a meal plan to minimize the morning hassle and simplify the grocery shopping. Map out two weeks of lunches, and repeat the schedule so the same lunch only comes around a few times each month. Agree to ban single-use water bottles and individual packaging from the lunch box. Use stainless steel or glass containers instead of plastic resealable bags. Order or make some reusable beeswax wraps for sandwiches. Add a metal or other non-plastic lunch box, and you have the foundation for a nearly waste-free lunch system. School supplies The basic laws of minimization apply here. Start by taking an inventory of what you already have. Check that tote of pushed-aside writing utensils, and resharpen the crayons and colored pencils. Inspect markers, pens and pencils. Grab the compass and protractor your older child no longer needs to give to the younger kids, and reuse the same rulers. Finish filling up the notebooks from last year when applicable, and make a few book covers. Chances are you even have tissues and 3×5 cards around that you can donate to the classroom. Once you’ve compared your inventory to the supply list, streamline your shopping. Make a “must have” list and vow to stick to it, at least for the first round of school supplies. There seems to be a phenomenon that makes kids feel they need the newest, shiniest everything before school starts, yet a few weeks in, any pencil will do. Related: The pros and cons of online versus in-store shopping When you do make school purchases, think long-term. Buying quality items is an earth-friendly decision that benefits everyone. Look for durable backpacks and binders that you won’t have to replace each year. Avoid themed folders and bags that your child will want to replace when the superhero phase passes. Beyond durability, hunt down sustainable options like those that are biodegradable , refillable and recyclable and contain post-consumer content and recycled materials. Reduce paper While you’re gearing up for the new year, look for ways to minimize paper communication by getting your email updated. Add your child’s teachers and administrators to your contacts, and sign-up for electronic classroom updates if possible. With any papers that do come, be sure to reuse or recycle them after they are no longer needed. Sports and activities With the new school year comes uniforms, gear and supplies for the extra-curricular activities, too. Again, look for secondhand gear, or borrow from friends. Hit up the local sporting goods resale shop or online marketplaces. When it comes to fundraising for those uber-expensive requirements, send flyers electronically, watch for wasteful packaging from vendors and seek out services the team can offer instead of products to sell. Also take advantage of carpool options for practices, games and competitions, and put all those activities into your meal planning calendar to avoid the dinner hassle. On activity nights, plan ahead for a slow cooker meal or leftovers instead of relying on fast food or pre-packaged dinners. With just a bit of planning, you can get the school season started with all the right supplies and habits needed for a successful and sustainable year. Images via Element5 Digital , Jaden C. , Prudence Earl , U.S. Department of Agriculture , Dawid Ma?ecki , Freddie Marriage and Picture Back

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A guide to going green for the back-to-school season

How to Throw a No-Waste Gender Reveal Party

July 11, 2019 by  
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How to Throw a No-Waste Gender Reveal Party

How to Throw a No-Waste Gender Reveal Party

July 11, 2019 by  
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Earth911 Quiz #66: The Social Cost of Carbon

July 11, 2019 by  
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The National Academies of Sciences recently released a comprehensive review … The post Earth911 Quiz #66: The Social Cost of Carbon appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #66: The Social Cost of Carbon

Earth911 Quiz #66: The Social Cost of Carbon

July 11, 2019 by  
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Earth911 Quiz #66: The Social Cost of Carbon

5 Ways to Throw a Green Dinner Party

January 22, 2019 by  
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With chilly temperatures driving many of us indoors, winter is … The post 5 Ways to Throw a Green Dinner Party appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How to throw a fun, zero waste Halloween party

October 22, 2018 by  
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October is flying by, and Halloween will be here before you know it. To celebrate the holiday, many of us like to throw a party at home, work or school full of pumpkins, candy, costumes, food and decorations. Americans spend billions of dollars on Halloween every year, and many of the things that we buy (plus the packaging) end up in the trash on November 1. But if you love celebrating Halloween with a fun party, it doesn’t mean you have to generate piles of garbage. There are plenty of ways to have a festive holiday without leaving behind a trail of trash. While you put together ideas for your ghoulish celebration, keep the environment in mind — throw an eco-friendly party with zero waste. Invite your guests to bring food and containers Instead of purchasing dozens of baked goods and treats from the store, ask each of your guests to bring a home-baked item like cookies, cupcakes, pies or brownies. They can bring them in containers that can easily be washed instead of thrown away, and this will keep the trash at your party to a minimum while also saving you money. Another bonus of guests bringing baked goods is that it reduces the number of leftovers you will have at your house, since everyone will take home the dish they brought. Speaking of leftovers… also ask guests to bring their own containers if they’d like to take home any food that is left at the end of the night. This way, everyone can enjoy the party even after it ends, and you can keep food waste to a minimum! Use natural decorations Decorating for Halloween is one of the most fun parts of the holiday, but you don’t need to head to your local Halloween mega-store to buy a bunch of plastic decorations that you might never use again. This can get expensive, and the waste from the packaging and the poorly made plastic products with toxic paints and chemicals just aren’t good for the environment. Related: 10 sustainable Halloween decorations for your green home Instead, use pumpkins and other gourds to decorate. You can keep them plain, paint them or decorate them with ribbons and bows. Also, get creative with fall outdoor items like pine cones, branches and leaves. Going natural with your decor and centerpieces keeps with the spirit of the fall season without requiring a ton of money or leaving behind waste. Make recycling bins easily accessible For items at the party that can be recycled, place recycling bins in the room and near the front door, so that people will remember to use them before they leave. Adding recycling bins to the party instead of using just trash cans will help minimize your party waste. This is especially important if you choose to use disposable, recyclable items. If you want to skip doing a lot of dishes and decide to use paper plates or recyclable plastic cups and utensils, having recycling bins in a convenient spot will prevent them from going into the garbage and reduce your carbon footprint . Provide finger foods Try serving finger foods so you don’t need as many plates and utensils, if you need them at all. Deviled eggs, chicken (or soy ‘chicken’) wings, chips with dip, bread, cupcakes, brownies and sandwiches are all great party foods that you can easily eat with your hands. Light your space with natural candles Lighting for an indoor Halloween party can be far from environmentally friendly. Instead of using a ton of electricity, try creating some ambiance with natural candles. Not only do candles nicely illuminate any space, but they can also create a spooky, mysterious vibe. If you want to get really creative, use  pumpkins as candle holders . Compost perishables Instead of throwing away food and perishables, compost them! You can even compost your pumpkin decorations. You don’t want to throw them out and take up all of that space in the garbage (and later, a landfill). Instead, compost everything you can to help next year’s garden. Related: Composting for beginners Offer eco-friendly party favors If you enjoy giving out goody bags to your guests, think about what you are putting inside as well as the type of bag you are using. Instead of buying items at the store, you can make things like cupcakes or cookies that your guests can take home. Use small, reusable gift bags or paper bags that can be recycled. Even tiny glass jars filled with candy make a cute, zero waste gift that doesn’t cost a fortune. It’s never too late to make your Halloween party a big green bash. These simple tips will help you reduce your carbon footprint, and some items could initiate good, thought-provoking conversation topics during your zero waste celebration. Via Recycle Nation and Joy of Zero Waste Images via  Raw Pixel , Helena Yankovska , Imordaf , Damien Creatz ,  Element5 Digital ,  Ben Kerck , Clem Onojeghuo and Shutterstock

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5 (mostly) free and easy ways to green your Fourth of July

July 4, 2018 by  
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Independence Day  is here — are you ready? If you want to celebrate your Fourth the green way by freeing yourself from the shackles of  unnecessary waste  and  energy  usage but are low on funds and ideas, check out our five creative tips on how to green your holiday — they’re as easy on your wallet as they are hassle-free! Substitute veggie dogs and burgers for hot dogs and hamburgers Raising livestock uses an incredible amount of energy and releases tons of methane into the air. This year, try serving soy dogs and burgers instead of meat — they’re better for the environment and for your health. And a lot of times, people can’t even tell the difference! Cost: $3-4 a box on average Ask guests to carpool or walk With people trying to save money, this one shouldn’t be too difficult at all. Plus, if you remind imbibers that the less cars there are, the less (responsible) drivers are needed, they’ll have yet another reason to carpool or walk. Cost: nothing Have a “Bring Your Own Cup” party Plastic cups are one of the most wasteful parts of having a summer bash. Asking guests to bring their own cups means that no one will forget which cup is theirs, and you won’t need to clean up after them because they just take their dirty drinkware home with them! Cost: nothing Ask caterers to make it “Eco to go” If you’re planning on ordering out for your party, use this simple phrase to tell restaurants that you would like minimal packaging, condiments and utensils. They might not know what you mean at first, but the more people use it, the more vendors will know what it means and that they should get with the program. Buy your charcoal from sustainably managed forests Not all charcoal is created equal. Check for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on the bag you buy to make sure it isn’t from an unsustainable source. And if you can use charcoal from the U.S. instead of from abroad, that’s even better! Cost: Surprisingly, FSC-certified and U.S.-sourced charcoal isn’t too much more expensive than the alternative. Have a great, green Fourth of July everyone! Images via Port of San Diego , Depositphotos , David Goehring , Didriks , Michael Mandiberg , and Julian Colton

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