Halloween has long been known as one of the least environmentally-friendly holidays. Between countless candy wrappers, costumes made of harmful plastics, and decorations which burn a lot of energy; it can be hard to navigate a holiday which means so much to so many. Luckily, here’s Grades of Green’s Guide to an Environmentally-Friendly Hallo-green!

 

 

  1. Conscientious Costumes

Costumes sold at Halloween super-stores are often made of materials like PVC which contain phthalate. These materials may be flame-retardant but they end up in a landfill leaking toxic chemicals into the environment. In fact, extended exposure to these chemicals could have adverse health effects.

 

Host a costume swap! Just like with candy, everyone likes a little variety in their costumes! But rather than shell out cash for a new costume every year, host a costume swap with your friends and mix it up! If you’re unable to find friends in your size, join Grades of Green’s virtual costume closet!

 

Design your own costume using supplies you already have at home! Another way to save some green while going green, create your own hallo-green masterpiece from things around the house. Grades of Green’s Litter Monster is not only a great costume, but is a great way to raise awareness for waste reduction efforts.

 

You can also turn an old bridesmaid’s dress you’ll never wear into an undead party-goer with some homemade fake blood. Take an old yoga mat and turn it into a slice of pizza or a British telephone booth.

 

  1. Spooky Sustainable Decorations

Not only are the costumes and decorations comprised of materials which are non-combustible, the plastic packaging they come in only compounds their harmful impact. Rather than spend money on decorations which will likely be thrown out in November, recycle egg cartons into bats or make skeletons our of recycled milk jugs. Old stockings with tears can be made into spider webs, add a construction paper spider and your hallo-green party will be the talk of the town. The opportunities are endless and it can make for a creative DIY project for the whole family.

 

  1. Green Your Treats

While we would love to reduce waste, handing out candy which is not individually wrapped may not go over well with concerned parents. Instead, you can hand out organic goodies with a significantly smaller environmental footprint, like these organic lollipops.

 

  1. Potluck Party

Host a pot-luck hallo-green party and ask your friends to bring their contributions in re-usable containers. Halloween parties can be a huge perpetrator of environmental efforts due to single-use plastics. Hosting a potluck party using silverware instead of single use cutlery will significantly reduce the holiday’s environmental impact.

 

  1. Trick-or-Treat

Avoid hard plastic jack-o-lanterns that will never breakdown in a landfill. Instead using tote bags, reusable shopping bags, or a pillow case to collect goodies is an easy way to be environmentally-friendly.

 

Instead of driving to your trick-or-treat destination, walking will help reduce the number of dangerous pollutants we expel into the atmosphere. Not to mention that it will help burn off the countless calories consumed later that night!

 

  1. LED the Way!

Use solar panel lights to illuminate the path toward your haunted mansion.

 

Sweep your sidewalk when clearing a path for trick-or-treaters; you’ll be saving gallons of water by not using a hose.

 

  1. Pumped for Pumpkin!

Buy organic and shop local! You’ll protect water and reduce carbon emissions by picking up your pumpkin from your local farm. Click Here to locate your local family farm.

 

Save the seeds and pulp from your pumpkin to make delicious snacks and baked goods. By reusing or composting our unwanted pumpkin parts, we can reduce dangerous greenhouse gases. Check out our favorite recipes for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Pumpkin Pie, and Pumpkin Soup.

 

Our Water Campaign Student Teams will tell you that eating a meat-less pumpkin based meal would be protecting water. By reusing the pumpkin seeds and pulp we reduce waste. For more fun ways to reuse, recycle and reduce waste, register for our Waste Campaign now!

 

 

 

 

For more DIY projects, green activities, and other ways to remain environmentally-friendly, visit www.GradesofGreen.org. Send your green solutions or pictures of your Hallo-green Holiday to @gradesofgreen or send us a message on Facebook!

Sustainable Summer Recipes

Did you know that the choices that you make in the kitchen can help you be more eco friendly? Some foods use up more water and energy to produce and some foods are obtained through unsustainable means. Fret not! Ex-chef and Program Advisor Jordan has ways to help YOU make environmentally conscious choices with summer’s best ingredients! So try these summer recipes without guilt to impress your friends and fellow environmentalists! Let’s get cooking!

Corn Salsa

2 pounds of diced tomatoes

1/2 a red onion, diced

1 jalapeno de-seeded and membranes removed

1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

Salt

Juice from 1 lime

1 – 2 corn cobs or 1 cup of frozen corn

Instructions:

-Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the corn cobs for about 10 minutes. Remove the cobs from the pot with tongs and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cob. Reserve in a bowl. If using frozen corn instead of fresh corn, simply microwave a bowl with frozen corn for 2-3 minutes. Reserve for later

EITHER blend the tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, lime juice in a blender for a few seconds and place in a bowl OR finely chop the tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, and cilantro and place the ingredients in a bowl

– add corn, cilantro, and lime juice to the salsa mixture. Then add salt to your desired taste.

The salsa can be served cold with chips or heated up and served as a flavorful tomato sauce over pasta.

Pan Fried Summer Squash

2 pounds of any of the following squash: crookneck, scallop, straightneck, or zucchini (feel free to mix and match!).

2-4 table spoons of peanut oil or olive oil (depends on the size of your pan)

Salt

Instructions:

– Use a sharp knife to cube the squash. Cutting at a bias into 2 inch “diamonds” can create better grill marks due to more surface area touching a pan or a grill.

-Turn on your kitchen fan or open a window and heat a pan to medium-high and add oil until the surface of your pan is completely covered. Wait for about 30 seconds or until the oil starts to shimmer.

– Make sure that the squash is not wet and add your squash and be careful of oil splatter. Move around the pan until so that the squash is touching the pan on not stacked on top of each other. Then leave on the pan for 4 minutes WITHOUT MOVING. Look for golden grill marks.

– After 4 minutes, rotate the squash so that the un-cooked surface is now touching the pan. Cook for 2 more minutes. Smaller pieces will take less time to cook and larger pieces will require more time, so adjust cooking times accordingly

– Salt to taste and serve!

This dish is perfect with salads, bread, and charcutterie!

Summer Pickles

1 cup hot water

1/2 cup rice-wine vinegar

6 tbsp sugar

2 1/4 tsp coarse kosher salt

1 table spoon of lemon or orange zest

2 cups of any combination of the following ingredients chopped into bite-sized pieces: shallots, green beans, cucumbers, beets, watermelon rinds. Make sure that the ingredients can fit in your jar.

Instructions:

– In a pot, bring water to a boil in a pot and blanch the shallots and green beans for 1 minute. Do not blanch cucumbers if using. OPTIONAL: chill the ingredients in an ice bath after blanching for improved texture.

– In a clean jar, pack in the shallots, green beans, and cucumbers.

– Pour the rice-wine vinegar, hot water, salt, sugar, and lemon/orange zest into the jar of pickles. Cover the vegetables entirely with this brine

– Place a lid on the jar and refrigerate. Wait for 4 days before serving.

These pickles should last for at least 6 weeks in the refrigerator!

Stay tuned for more environmentally recipes in near future!

Inspired by the blog post written by our L.A. intern Josh about air quality, our friends at St. Roza in Uganda reached out to us to share their own efforts to help with air quality!

Using designs from their fellow art students, the student eco-leaders at St. Roza have constructed an incinerator in order to reduce emissions produced from the burning of the waste they create. Before the students built their incinerator, some of their waste was burned in an open fire with no way to control the emissions created. This sent all sorts of toxins and pollutants into the atmosphere. These students are very concerned about the addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and its effects on global warming and rainfall, so using materials such as clay, sand, and stones, they took matters into their own hands and built an incinerator! They are always working to improve the quality of air and the environment however they can!

We are so happy to hear what these students are doing to reduce air pollution! Their eco-tip might even end up on a special Grades of Green reusable napkin made by our friends at Funkins! Did you submit your eco-tip for our custom napkin contest with Funkins? If so, be on the lookout for an email from us announcing the winners on March 25th!

Interested in spreading the word about protecting air quality or reducing air pollution? Register here to gain access to our 40+ Eco-Activities like our Air Earth Tips Activity!

Looking to save money while easily obtaining quality green services or products for your school? The Green Schools Alliance (GSA) Purchasing Solution promises this opportunity to schools at no cost, and your school does not need to be a GSA Member School in order to participate. GSA hopes that by making environmentally-friendly options more afforable and easy to acquire they are also transforming markets, policy, and behaviors to make entire schools function with sustainability in mind. A portion of the cost savings on every order goes back to support GSA.

Need ideas for green products and services your school could use? Use Grades of Green Activities to inspire you! When you register for Grades of Green you get access to resources and step-by-step instructions to implement 40+ green activities.

For more details on the GSA Purchasing Solution program, click here.