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Posts tagged ‘halloween’

November’s Ghoulish Garbage: A Curbside Guide

As we know, there can be some scary finds in the Salt Lake City curbside recycling bins! There are also many tricks! (Both of these links are to recent Instagram stories done by our Recycling Education team. Pretty interesting, right?)

So now that Halloween is over, don’t give our waste management teams a fright! Here’s a quick guide to where your Halloween waste should go.

Help stop monstrous non-recyclable things from ending up in your recycling bin!

Compost: Your Jack-O’-Lantern’s Final Resting Place

If you’re an extra resourceful pumpkin carver, you may have decided to roast up your pumpkin seeds for a delicious Halloween snack! In fact, there are many fun ways to put your pumpkin’s guts to use.

But once you’ve used up your pumpkin and the jack-o’-lantern’s smile is fading, you have an important choice to make: where does the pumpkin go?

The combination of yard waste like leaves and sticks and kitchen scraps including eggshells and coffee grounds makes nutrient-rich dirt that promotes plant and soil health. Indeed, about 30% of what’s thrown away as garbage in the United States — including your perfect pumpkin — could be composted.

So instead of letting the great pumpkin take up space in the landfill (where it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas), put your pumpkin into the compost bin!

(Remember to only put pumpkins without paint, wax, glitter or other non-organic decorations in the brown bin).

Image of a cute wrinkly pumpkin ready to compost!

Garbage vs. Recycling?

Unless a helpful witch or wizard was able to transform all those candy wrappers into clean cardboard or aluminum, or if you send materials to a recycling program like TerraCycle, candy wrappers should always be put into the garbage can.

Read more

Go Batty for Bats this Halloween!

Halloween is here and things are getting extra spooky. Whether you’re out trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, or just enjoying the fall weather, take a minute to celebrate some of Halloween’s most iconic creatures: Bats!

While bats may seem scary, like spiders they are an important part of our ecosystems. Not only do they help control insect populations, reducing the need for pesticides, they are also major pollinators.

It just so happens that Halloween marks the last day of International Bat Week. So in honor of our winged friends, here are some fun facts about bats.

Bats of Utah Poster from www.wildawareutah.org

Insatiable Insectivores

There are eighteen species of bats in Utah, and over 1,300 species world wide. Bugs make up the primary diet of most bats. And a single bat can eat thousands of insects each night! For smaller bats, that can mean eating close to their body weight in insects!

By controlling insect populations, bats help reduce the need for toxic pesticides. As a result, bats also help farmers save money by serving as natural defenses against insect damage to crops. Moreover, by diminishing our dependence on pesticides, bats also help protect our food and health.

Pollinating by Night

While most bats are insectivores, many species consume nectar and fruit – and are important pollinators! Indeed, bats are responsible for pollinating over 300 species of fruit including bananas and mangoes. They also help pollinate the plants that are used to make different kinds of medicine.

Keeping Bats and Humans Safe

One common misconception about bats is they are blood-suckers. Although the vampire bat does consume the blood of other animals, bats don’t attack humans. Bats can carry rabies and other diseases, so it is important to remember that handling bats isn’t safe for you or the bat.

Besides habitat destruction, one of the biggest threats to bats is White-Nose Syndrome, a fungus that is causing mass deaths of hibernating bats. You can lower their chances of exposure by avoiding caves where there may be hibernating bat colonies.

Bats are wonderful animals who play an important role as pollinators and insectivores. By giving bats space and protecting their habitats, we can keep humans and bats safe!

Please join us in celebrating the role of bats in our ecosystem by commemorating Bat Week! Share this blog or Bat Week’s page on your social media pages.

Or perhaps you have your costume dilemma solved for Halloween? . . .

Whatever it is– let’s show the bats in our environment some love!

This Halloween — Show Spiders Some Love

spider

This Halloween, we’re featuring spiders on the blog! But not to scare you. In fact, we thought Halloween would be the perfect opportunity to shed some (not-so-spooky) light on these creepy crawlies.

Our eight-legged friends (yes – you read that right) top the list of the most misunderstood helpers and are labeled as pests. Entomologists are working hard to change the public’s perception of spiders through education and outreach. After all, we are less likely to be afraid of something that we are familiar with and spiders have an important ecological role as the top invertebrate predator.

Living fossils

Spiders evolved 380 million years ago (long before the dinosaurs) and are believed to be the first animals to live on land. They are living fossils that evolved from an underwater ancestor that makes them closer cousins to a horseshoe crab than an insect.

hagfish

Spiders are often lumped together with insects even though they are very different creatures. Spiders are in the same phylum (Arthropods) as insects, because they have a segmented body. To put that in perspective, humans are in the same phylum (Chordata) as hagfish, and obviously, other than a hollow nerve cord, we are nothing like a hagfish. The differences are that big!

Without spiders, we would be waist deep in other insects!! Spiders eat an astronomical amount of bugs – somewhere in the range of 880 million tons of bugs a year!

Fear and loathing 

You can Google hundreds of news articles about car wrecks and house fires caused by people’s fear of spiders. Just a few days ago, there was a house fire in California where a man burnt down his parent’s house trying to kill a black widow. While there is research that shows some people are born with an innate fear of spiders, other people raise them as pets. Read more

Halloween Decorating! SLCgreen Style

Sustainability Decorations- plastic bag ghosts, trash bag spider webs, sunflowers.

Halloween is right around the corner! Have you finished your decorations yet?

The City & County Building is having a door decorating competition between departments (never mind that the building itself might be haunted….!)

Of course, here at the Sustainability Department we know it’s important to “walk our talk” in terms of decorating with reused, compostable, and recyclable goods to keep material out of the landfill.

In the process, we had a fun time using our creativity (and Google) to come up with some cool ways to spookishly decorate. Here are some tips for your home or office: Read more

Green Your Halloween (Part 2)

greenHalloweenBanner

Here are some of our favorite tips to green your Halloween!

Costumes

Do you generally buy a brand new costume, wear it once, and stash it away in the closet for years? Do you buy seasonal costumes that are full of toxins? It’s time to save some money, revere your health, and green your Halloween experience. Instead of buying a costume, rent one. Salt Lake City has a variety of places where you can rent a costume.

For adults and kids alike, be creative and make one from finds at a second hand store! Salt Lake City has several types of stores to choose from: Savers, Uptown Cheapskate and Deseret Industries all sell gently-used clothing.

Looking for last minute inspiration? There are about a million ideas on Pinterest.

Trick-or-Treating

For those going out:

  • Remember to bring something reusable to carry the candy in. A cloth grocery bag works well and is easy to carry. Pillowcases or a small bucket work well too!

For those staying in:

  • Hand out something tasty and healthy! Fruits and veggies (e.g. apples, baby carrots, grapes) are always a good choice and require minimal (if any) packaging. Organic fruit snacks are easier on the teeth than candy and are still delicious. Have you considered packets of granola, organic juice boxes or dried fruits?
  • There are plenty of non-food items that can be handed out too! Stickers, crayons, toothpastes and toothbrushes, beads and bean bags are all treats. Don’t forget pencils!

Things to Avoid

  • Most children’s face paints are full of toxic heavy metals (e.g. lead, nickel, and chromium). Manufacturers don’t include these on the package label. Make your own food-based make-up with these DIY Recipes.
  • Foods that contain high amounts of corn syrup/sugar, hydrogenated oils, or artificial colors and flavors.
  • Purchasing new costumes.
  • Purchasing a container to hold Halloween treats.
  • Handing out cheap petroleum-based, plastic toys.

For More Information On Greening Your Halloween

Above all, have a safe, happy and green Halloween!

Have a Green Halloween!

NonTraditionalHalloweenCollage

Photo Credits via Flickr: Paul Stein, Nick Thompson, Steven Depolo & Pamela Link.

Happy Halloween, Salt Lake City!

Tonight, think outside the candy bag with some creative ideas from Green Halloween.

A few of our favorites:

  • Crayons
  • Acorns
  • Honey sticks
  • Fruit snacks or fruit leather
  • Feathers
  • Mini granola bars

Check out the full list at GreenHalloween.org.