Fall means leaf piles, pumpkins, halloween and candy. But what happens when the holiday is over? Are the methods for which we’re disposing of our fall waste sustainable? Are we making the best choices on the products that we’re buying for our kids? AND WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL THESE LEAVES?
We’ve decided to strive for an eco-friendly fall this year! There are so many simple ways to adjust habits and make more sustainable choices. I’ve found myself having more fun coming up with eco-friendly alternatives to practical issues, like dealing with old pumpkins, DIY costumes and leaf removal. We’ve tackled five of the main fall tasks that require a little extra thought when going eco-friendly.
How can I make my pumpkins last longer?
Everyone wants that tingly feeling of fall and Halloween for just a little bit longer. Not only does it feel bad when your pumpkin starts going off, but it also smells bad. Here are a few ways to get the most out of your pumpkin this year:
- When carving your pumpkin (if you haven’t already) keep the seeds and roast them so they’re not wasted!
- Find different recipes online to switch up the flavors.
- Give your pumpkin a bath in water and peppermint soap to keep mold at bay
- Rub lemon juice or olive oil on carved areas to keep them looking more fresh
- When your pumpkin creation starts to rot, keep it out of the garbage and try one of our disposal solutions below.
What should I do with my pumpkins after Halloween?
When your pumpkin masterpiece begins to show signs of rot, do as Elsa says and ‘let it go!’ Try out one (or more) of these eco-friendly disposal options for your pumpkin:
- Compost it! If you have your own compost bin, be sure to remove any candles or decorations before tossing it into the pile. If you don’t have your own compost then bring it to a local farmer’s market to be composted.
- Remove any seeds, if you haven’t already – you don’t want a new pumpkin growing in your compost bin!
- Bury it! Much like composting, you can dig holes and bury broken up pieces of your pumpkin in the ground. Cover the top of the hole with more dirt and let the pumpkin boost the health of your soil.
- Share it! Pumpkin is a healthy treat for many animals, so consider sharing it with your local wildlife. Birds enjoy pumpkin seeds, and those can be directly added to a bird feeder for an extra tasty treat. If you live in an area with deer, you can cut the pieces up and leave them in your garden. Grab the binoculars and enjoy the view of satisfied wildlife from inside the house!
- Eat it! Before your pumpkin is too far gone, you can make the most of the tasty delight by turning it into soup, stock or any number of tasty treats. If your pumpkin has already seen better days, chop off the bad bits and make the most of what’s left.
What about leaves?
- If you have a mulching lawn mower, you can mulch all your leaves without having to remove them from your yard. The mulched leaves will fertilize your grass naturally.
- If you prefer to remove the leaves from your yard, be sure to check in with your local waste management service about removal and bagging regulations.
- Do not sweep or rake leaves into the road or towards storm drains. Leaves and yard waste can block storm drains, and once they enter the water column they add unnecessary nutrients to our waterways. This can be detrimental to fish, crabs, and other aquatic wildlife through the creation of Dead Zones.
- Keep it simple. Bag it. Mulch it. Compost it.
Are candy wrappers recyclable?
Candy wrappers are not traditionally recyclable as they are made of multiple materials. The outer layer is made from a kind of plastic and the shiny inside part is made from metals. These materials need to be separated before recycling them and that is a difficult and expensive job.
While candy wrappers are not recycled in a mainstream way (yet), there are still ways to keep them out of the garbage. Companies like Terracycle make recycling and disposing of odds and ends like old pens, cosmetic containers, kitchenware, and even cigarettes, easier.
Terracycle offers zero-waste boxes for different items, one of which is candy wrappers. When you purchase a zero-waste box and fill it with your chosen product, you just mail it back and Terracycle handles the rest. This method can be expensive, so consider splitting the costs with neighbors, coworkers, friends or family. Visit terracycle.com for more information.
How can I find a low-waste Halloween Costume?
- Do It Yourself! There’s nothing quite like making your own Halloween costume. Try one of these DIY costumes for kids of all ages or invent your own!
- Choose reusable treat containers. Don’t opt for the plastic trick or treat buckets this year. Try out a brown paper bag, a pillowcase, or a reusable tote. If that isn’t fun enough, try buying a plain tote and decorating it in your own Halloween style, ready for use year after year!
- Costume swap. Do you have an awesome lion costume lying around from last year but this year Fiona really wants to dress up as Olaf? (Another Frozen reference?) Well, put out a message on social media – there’s a good chance another parent is having a similar dilemma and you might just be able to swap costumes this year, saving you both on money and waste.
Does your family have their own sustainable strategy? Share your eco-friendly fall pics with us on Instagram using #ShareWashingtonParent!