by Tiffany Harelik
Halloween is a fun time of the year to ring in fall flavors and have parties. Whether young or young at heart, there are several things you can do this year to make your Halloween celebrations climate neutral and earth-friendly.
- Reuse: Organize a costume swap pre-Halloween party
- Recycle: Get crafty and turn existing clothing into a costume – search “DIY costumes”for ideas
- Wrap LED Christmas lights around a pumpkin and line the walkway to your front door
- Remove seeds from a pumpkin (put aside to toast with olive oil and salt). Wipe interior shell of the pumpkin out with vinegar. Place a blooming potted plant inside and tie a ribbon around the belly of the pumpkin.
- Use glassware to entertain at parties. Or if you are using themed plastic, consider washing and saving for next year’s Halloween.
- Have a recycle bin present at your celebrations.
- Compost food wastes into your fall garden.
- Remove the top of a healthy pumpkin, leaving seeds inside. Fill with good dirt, and a little water. This creates a self-containing pumpkin patch.
Give treats that don’t have excessive packaging:
- Fruit comes in it’s own biodegradable casing and doesn’t require extra plastic bags. Ex: oranges, apples, bananas.
- Consider giving out non-food treat ideas that aren’t wasteful (ex: crayons)
More fun sources we found to help you have a Green Halloween:
Take this quiz to see how Green your Halloween truly is via Planet Green.
Here is a great big list of healthy and earth-friendly treat alternatives for a “Green Halloween.” Follow them on twitter at @greenhalloween
Thanks to @GetGreenBeWell, the 28-day Green-Your-Halloween Challenge has started. Check out some of their ideas for a greener Halloween.
TreeHugger is one of our favorite go-to sites for useful environmental information. Here is their take on how to have a Green Halloween.
by Tiffany Harelik
Hopefully you’ll have some time this summer to grab a good book and read. In no particular order, here are some eco-reads hot on our list to dive into:
Hot, Flat and Crowded – Why we need a green revolution and how it can renew America
Eco Chic – Guide to making your next vacation environmentally responsible by staying in eco spas and hotels
GrassRoutes – City guides for where to find the businesses that are locally owned and environmentally responsible
Ecotourists Save the World – The environmental volunteer’s guide to more than 300 international adventures to conserve, preserve, and rehabilitate wildlife and habitats
Gunfight at the Eco Corral – Western Cinema and the Environment
Eco-Fads: How the Rise of Trendy Environmentalism is Harming the Environment
by Tiffany Harelik
With summer started, many eco-conscious families are interested in ways to transform their current pools into a more natural environment for swimming. Natural swimming pools utilize native plants in an aquatic garden to circulate the water and keep everything fresh, clean and clear. These are a little different than the increasingly popular saltwater pools. The modern trend in natural pools is to replace chemicals and filters with elements from Mother Nature.
Perhaps our ancestors would be laughing that we are seeking out natural swimming pools for our homes since there are so many natural wonders available. If you want to spend more time in the water instead of cleaning it this summer, here are some reasons you might want to consider building a natural pool.
Benefits of a natural pool:
1. Low maintenance: let Mother Nature do the work
2. Costs less: no electricity, plumbing, chemicals
3. Green: healthy for all the plants and organisms in the pond
4. Nature sounds: improve your feng shui
1. Keep your planting zone equal in area to swimming zone
2. Use a variety of water garden plants to keep the space aerated, warm, safe for an animal habitat and beautiful
3. Even though plants are great natural filters, many natural pools will still require an underwater aeration system to keep the water from becoming stagnant
You can also swim at these natural beauties this summer in Central Texas:
1. Barton Springs
2. Deep Eddy
3. Hamilton Pools
4. Krause Springs
5. Blue Hole
1. Havasu Falls (Arizona)
2. Peekamoose Blue Hole (New York)
3. Little River Canyon (Alabama)
4. Carlon Falls (California)
by Tiffany Harelik
Let this picture help you see the benefits of composting: the field on the left has utilized compost, the field on the right has not.
Many farmers are weighing the financial benefits of switching from manmade fertilizers to natural compost. In an article on composting rules in the Southwest, one farmer reports saving nearly $100,000 on his fertilizer bill because of having switched to compost.
This May 6-12 is National Composting Awareness Week. Although there are several varieties, “compost” is a general reference for decomposed organic material. We have put together some compelling reasons to compost, a quick guide to getting started, and a fun activity for the next generation of conservationists.
- replenishes nutrients from food waste back into food-growing Earth
- improves soil pH
- provides beneficial microorganisms to the soil which helps suppress plant diseases
- improves soil structure to make a better environment for roots and prevents erosion
- manages moisture by reducing need for irrigation
- creates more drought resistance
- mitigates climate change
- reduces water pollution through pollution prevention, bioremediation, and stormwater management
HOW TO GET STARTED: COMPOSTING 101
gives some great tips for the new composter. Here are a few they recommend:
- “Gather all grass clippings and green yard waste but be sure to mix with the “brown” materials like leaves and shredded paper to add carbon. You will need both, but if you only add grass clippings your pile will compact and start to stink.
- Do not compost meats or pet droppings. Stick with food scraps and yard waste only.
- Avoid all pesticides and/or herbicide treated material.
- Turn your pile as often as you can. Each time you turn it will speed up the process.
- Keep your compost damp but not wet. As you add material to your pile make sure that each layer is moist as it is added. During the summer your pile will dry out and the composting process will slow down.
- Add compost to your garden a few weeks before you plant. Let the compost have a chance to work into the soil. Try to mix it in and let it sit before you plant.
- Bugs, worms and most bugs are ok. No need to go crazy trying to keep bugs out of your compost.
- Since the compost process works best at temperature between 120 and 150 degrees composting in the warmer months is easier to do, if this is your first attempt at composting best to try in the summer.”
For the serious composter, check out this article on composting toilets.
COMPOSTING ACTIVITY FOR KIDS
Cut a recycled 2 liter bottle in half and fill the bottom portion 1/4 way up with water (enough to emerse the upturned other half). Turn the top half of the bottle upside down and place two wicking strips in the bottom, then fill it with damp, soil-less potting mix and a handful of organic fertilizer. You can plant seeds or start with a seedling and water from the top. The wicking fabric will pull water up to the plant, conserving water.
The United States Composting Council offers a multitude of resources for people wanting to know more about composting. They provide a compost locator map to illustrate where to find quality composting as well as educational webinars, training and certification. They are a national non-profit organization dedicated to the composting industry. Green Fern Events is proud to be involved with the USCC’s 21st annual conference and trade show in January of 2013 as the conference manager.
Tonight, Green Fern Events is pleased to provide recycling services for the first major event at the new offices for the Austin Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s open house will be held at their new home, located at the Hilton downtown at 535 East 5th St. 78701 from 4:30p-7:30p. Signature food and drink will be provided by local chamber members including Chez Zee, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Carmelo’s, Truluck’s, Another Broken Egg, Hilton Downtown and Twin Liquors.
Green Fern Events will gather plastic cups and aluminum cans and take them to a local recycling facility. To give you an idea of the environmental impact even a small community event might have, consider this: 400 people are expected to attend tonight’s open house. We have found the best way to measure plastic cups is by volume (not weight) in cubic yards. If everyone uses at least one plastic glass, about 400 cups will be used. By recycling 400 plastic cups, approximately .25 cubic yards of landfill space will be spared and the plastic will be reused!
Recycling and event waste measurement is just one of Green Fern’s services:
On Thursday December 15, 2011 Green Fern Events, Austin’s premier sustainable event management company, alongside Wandering River Recycling successfully offset 97% of all the waste for Bazaarvoice’s holiday event held at the Austin Music Hall in downtown Austin, Texas. There were over 700 guests in attendance. Bob McGivney, Owner of Wandering River Recycling said, “In my experience I have never seen an offset percentage as high as this.” He added, “This end result is a testament of how well an offset program can work when proper planning is in place for any event at any size.” Zero Waste is defined as diverting 90% of trash from landfills by recycling and composting. Not only was this goal met, it was exceeded by 7%.
So how was this achieved?
First, it starts with a company like Bazaarvoice who is dedicated to improving sustainability, minimizing negative environmental impact and demonstrating community goodwill. For the second year in a row, Bazaarvoice hired Green Fern Events to provide recycling and composting services to help “green” their holiday event. Not only is Bazaarvoice a global leader in social commerce solutions and marketing for some of the world’s largest brands, they are setting a powerful example of environmental leadership and corporate social responsibility. With special help from the Bazaarvoice G.I. Joes (a.k.a. the green team), Bazaarvoice implements many green strategies into their business culture, community, as well as for the events they produce.
Third, it requires communication. Emily Kahn, President and Founder of Green Fern Events, effectively communicated the waste management plan to everyone involved. The key to the program’s success was having an informed staff. For example, Green Fern Events asked Pascal’s Catering to provide compostable plates, cutlery, and napkins for the food service. When real china is not available, this is the second-best option. This helped reduce the waste significantly as everything related to food service was compostable and/or biodegradable. Also, all drink containers used for the event were recyclable.
Lastly, limit non-sustainable options. Given the abundance of composting and recycling bins we limited “trash” receptacles; this helped eliminate the option for guests and/or staff to place items in the wrong containers. Pascal’s Catering staff pro-actively bussed the tables and placed all waste in the proper bins. This not only elevated the level of service, it kept all recyclables and compostables from ending up in trash bins.
At the conclusion of Bazaarvoice’s 2011 Holiday event, only 1 bag of trash (weighing 25 pounds) remained. 63% of all the waste was recycled and 34% was composted. The end-result: 97% (600 lbs) of all waste was diverted from a landfill.
Green Fern Events is Austin’s premier sustainable event management company. GFE helps clients reduce the negative environmental impact of their events, while at the same time producing flawless, professionally executed events at a cost effective price. More information can be found at http://www.greenfernevents.com. http://www.greenfernevents.com
SUSTAINBLE TRICK-OR-TREAT TOTE BAG
This FEED trick-or-treat bag is a great way for your kids to collect treats while helping to provide life-saving nutrition for children around the world. Designed by Lauren Bush, this program was launched in 2010 in partnership with UNICEF (United Nation’s Childrens Fund). FEED’s Projects’ mission is to create good products that help feed the world. They do this through sale of FEED bags, bears, t-shirts and other accessories. The products are made using environmentally-friendly and artisan-made materials, along with fair-labor production.
ORGANIC & FAIR TRADE CANDY OPTIONS
1) Individually wrapped organic lollypops by YUMMY EARTH
2) Organic candy bars by ANGELL
3) Organic & Natural Gummy Candy and Jelly Beans: SURF SWEETS
Tonight, across the U.S., over 100,000 households will receive candy back. This is in an effort to raise awareness of child labor, forced labor, trafficking, poverty, and environmental degradation that is widespread on cocoa farms. Click on LINK
here or above to read more on Equal Exchange’s FACEBOOK.
As you begin to plan your parties here are a few ways to stay green during the 4th of July:
- The obvious choice is to use real plates, utensils, and glass ware. If you cant, the second best option is using biodegradable, compostable, or bamboo products.
- Make recycling easy and available!
- Serve finger foods such as sliced fruit, veggies & dip, cheese & crackers, and mini sliders.
- Drink local.
- Compost kitchen scraps (remember no meat, only organic material).
- When BBQ-ing try burning a propane or electric grill.
Here are a few web sites where you can buy earth-friendly products
- Located in Austin: http://www.ecowise.com/
- NatureWorks http://www.natureworksllc.com/Product-And-Applications.aspx