October 31, 2011

Greener, Safer Beauty

Think of how upsetting it is to hear about big corporations polluting our air, water, and soil with harmful chemicals. Now consider the disturbing fact that many people are unwittingly contaminating their own bodies with harmful chemicals every day with the personal care items they’re using. Your skin is your biggest organ and your greatest defense barrier, but skin absorption is the number one way chemicals are getting into your system (after all, you wouldn’t willingly ingest this stuff).

Yet, the FDA does not require companies to test cosmetics and personal products before they are sold. Currently, the safety of personal care product ingredients is evaluated through a voluntary program run by the cosmetics industry. The FDA can only regulate cosmetic products after they are put on the market and even then they cannot require product recalls but must go to court to remove misbranded and/or tainted products from the market.

A 2007 an Environmental Working Group (EWG) investigation found that hundreds of cosmetics sold in the U.S. contained chemicals the industry itself has deemed unsafe even when used as directed. Many products sold in the U.S. include chemicals that are banned in most other countries. After analyzing over 23,000 products, the EWG discovered that nearly one in every 30 products sold in the U.S. failed to meet one or more industry or governmental cosmetics safety standards.

So what’s a consumer to do? Keep informed. The EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Safe Cosmetics is a pocket-sized guide to what ingredients and products to avoid when you’re walking down the health and beauty aisle.

The EWG has also created a personal care products safety database that allows you to research products and their safety. A piece of advice though . . . there are over 30,000 products in the database and just doing a search for something general, say shampoo, can leave you with an overwhelming results list to go through. The best way to utilize the database is to first look up your current favorite products and products you’d like to try. Then, see where the results lead you. Over time you’ll learn which products and brands give you the best results without compromising your health.


October 27, 2011

Green Tip of The Day

Sign up at Recyclebank.com to earn rewards for being green. As if being green wasn't rewarding enough, Recyclebank rewards people for taking green actions like pledging to use less energy or recycle more with discounts and special offers from retailers, restaurants, and other local and national businesses. Registering is free and the site is full of green living tips and advice. Check it out today!


October 26, 2011

Green Tip of The Day

Green up your e-mail. Green up your e-mail with an eco-friendly electronic signature. Check out ecofriendlyemail.com for ideas to create an Eco-signature all your own. My personal favorite is “Save a tree. Don't Ctrl P.”


October 25, 2011

Green Tip of The Day

Think before you print. Before you print anything consider if it can be saved electronically or emailed rather than printed. If you have to print, print only the specific text or pages you need and print on both sides of the paper. Keep misprints for scrap paper (thus saving Posts Its). Also, save time and paper by printing addresses directly on envelopes instead of printing mailing labels.

Click here for more paper saving tips.


October 23, 2011

How to Save on Heating Costs This Winter

Whether we like it or not, winter is coming. Even if you love all that crisp air and fluffy snow, nobody enjoys increased heating bills. But despite the Farmers' Almanac's prediction of an “unusually cold and stormy” winter season, there are several simple and inexpensive things you can do to save on heating costs this winter.

Lower the thermostat. Each degree you lower the thermostat saves you 3% on heating costs. If you have a coil-type thermostat, make sure to keep it clean for the most accurate readings.

Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat allows you to preset temperatures for different times of the day, so you can leave temperatures lower when you're out or sleeping and warmer when you're home (reverse during the summer). A programmable thermostat is relatively inexpensive ($30 to $50), easy to install, easy to use, and can save you 10% to 20% on heating and cooling costs.

Dress your home warmly. Warming up your décor can help you remain comfortable while lowering the thermostat even further. Use flannel sheets on your bed, cover cold floors with rugs, and keep warm blankets and throws handy.

Use window treatments wisely. Pull back the window coverings on your south-facing windows during the day for the solar heat. Then close them before the sun sets to keep the heat in. Insulating curtains are also a good option. Each square foot of insulated window saves about 1 gallon of oil or 1.5 cubic feet of gas a year.

Keep the air flowing. Make sure there is nothing, like draperies or furniture, blocking air vents. If you do find that air is blowing up behind curtains, there are inexpensive air directors you can pick up at the hardware store to direct the flow of air out into the room.

Stop the “stack effect.” As warmer air rises up in a house, cold air rushes in from outside to takes its place. This is called the "stack effect." To reduce the stack effect, cut down on spaces cold air can enter your home. Use a door snake (a long, thin bean bag-type device placed at the base of a door) to stop drafts under doors, keep doors leading to hallways or near stairways shut, and close off seldom-used rooms. If you find using a door snake inconvenient, install a nylon door sweep instead.

Use kitchen and bathroom ventilating fans only for the amount of time truly necessary – typically no more than 20 minutes. According to the Department of Energy, a bathroom or kitchen fan can expel a houseful of warm air in just an hour.

Find and seal air leaks. Air leaks can waste 5% to 30% of your home's energy. Check doors, windows, electrical conduits, plumbing fixtures, ceiling fixtures, the attic, and anywhere else air may escape for leaks. Use weatherstripping or caulk to repair any leaks.

Make sure your home is properly insulated. Check the insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces to see if it meets the levels recommended for your area. The U.S. Department of Energy offers an online Zip Code Insulation Calculator which provides insulation levels for your home based on your zip code and other basic information about your home.

Insulate windows. Insulating your windows with an kit available from most hardware stores is an easy, inexpensive way to buffer against drafts and boost to your home's ability to hold heat.

Keep your heating system properly maintained. Check air filters once a month and clean or replace them when necessary. Oil-fired boilers should be cleaned and tuned annually, and gas systems, every two years. Following these measures can save you 5% to 15% on heating and cooling costs.

Increase your hot water heater's efficiency. Put an insulating jacket around your water heater and secure (with tape, wire, or a clamp) foam pipe sleeves around the hot water pipes and three feet of the cold water inlet pipe.

Turn the temperature on your water heater down to 120 degrees. Doing so will reduce the heater's energy consumption by 5% to 10% and prevent scalding.

Reverse ceiling fans. Many ceiling fans have a switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Counterclockwise rotation produces cools air, while a clockwise rotation makes it warmer by bringing heated air down to into rooms with cathedral or high-sloped ceilings. Only use this tactic if you have high ceilings and can set the fan to rotate clockwise at a low speed.

Close your fireplace flue. An open fireplace damper lets out as much heated air as a wide-open 48-inch window. Make sure your flue is always closed when not in use. It's even a good idea to cut back on how much you use your fireplace since a fire draws heat from a room and exhausts it to the outside through the chimney.

Replace windows and appliances with energy-efficient models as they wear out. They may cost more upfront, but you'll recoup the cost with heating and cooling cost savings.

If your furnace is over 20 years old, it is not efficiently heating your home. Although replacing a furnace is a costly expense, the increased efficiency will save you money in the long run. Energy Star-certified furnaces are 15% to 20% more efficient than even new standard models.

Now get ready to bundle up, stay warm, and save money this winter!


October 20, 2011

Green Tip of The Day

Swap your incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Energy Star-certified bulbs use 70% percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer.

For those who don't like CFLs' bluish-white light or how long some of them can take to light up completely there is the new Energy Smart hybrid Halogen-CFL light bulb by GE. It casts the same kind of warm glow as an incandescent bulb, but lasts eight times longer than incandescent bulbs.


October 19, 2011

Green Tip of The Day

Opt for cloth dish towels and napkins over disposable paper towels and napkins. Keep a supply of cloth napkins, dish and hand towels in the kitchen to use in place of paper products. Toss them in a mesh bag until you have enough to run a load of laundry. You'll save paper, reduce waste, and save money.


October 18, 2011

Green Tip of The Day

Toss scratched nonstick cookware. Nonstick cookware can be safe to use as long as you take care to not heat it too high or scratch the chemical coating – the two ways a harmful, carcinogenic chemical named perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) can be released into the air. Always wash nonstick cookware by hand using nonabrasive cleaners and sponges and avoid using metal utensils or stacking pots and pans to avoid scratching. If any of your nonstick cookware does happen to become scratched, toss it.

When looking for replacement cookware, consider pieces made from other materials. Health Canada has a great overview of the benefits and risks of various cookware materials. It's best to have an assortment. Stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic, Pyrex, and silicone are all good options for cookware and bakeware.


October 16, 2011

Safe and Effective Homemade Cleaning Solutions

Swapping out expensive, smelly, chemical-laden cleaning products for inexpensive, non-toxic, earth-friendly solutions you can make right at home is probably one of the quickest and easiest ways to start being green. With a few simple products, like vinegar, baking soda, and peroxide, you can get your house just as clean as with traditional cleaning products. You’ll save money on cleaning supplies, keep the plastic bottles they come in out of our landfills, and avoid harsh chemicals that can cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritations.

The two workhorses of the green cleaning arsenal are distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide. You can clean and disinfect most of your house with these two products.

Thanks to its acidity, distilled white vinegar is effective at killing most mold, bacteria, and viruses. Put full strength vinegar in a spray bottle to create an all-purpose cleaner you can use on glass, mirrors, doorknobs, sinks, appliances, and countertops (just avoid using it on marble). In place of harsh bathroom cleaning products use undiluted vinegar on toilets, bathtubs, and showers (add a little baking soda for extra scrubbing power). For stubborn soap residue in the bathroom or grease stains in the kitchen let the vinegar penetrate for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping clean. To get rid of the residue on a showerhead mix 1 part baking soda with two parts vinegar in a bag and wrap it around the showerhead. Let it sit there for at least an hour. Then, remove the bag, give the showerhead a quick wipe, and run the water. To keep your dishwasher clean and odor-free, once a month put white vinegar in the soap dispenser and run it empty for a cycle. Mix a cup of vinegar with a gallon of water to clean vinyl and linoleum floors.

Hydrogen peroxide (the 3% solution you can pick up at pharmacies and grocery stores) is a nontoxic antibacterial that kills viruses, mold, and mildew. You can think of it as an all-natural bleach. Anything you typically clean with bleach can be cleaned with peroxide. This includes countertops, sinks, cutting boards, bathtubs, showers, toilets, and garbage pails. Just spray it on, allow the bubbles to subside (hydrogen peroxide needs time to disinfect) and wipe. To clean and disinfect those vinyl and linoleum floors mix equal parts peroxide and water to mop. No rinsing necessary. For laundry you can replace bleach with one cup of hydrogen peroxide. You can also soak items, like toothbrushes, sponges, cleaning cloths, retainers, thermometers, and loofahs, in hydrogen peroxide to disinfect them.

Using vinegar and peroxide together (spray with undiluted vinegar and then 3% hydrogen peroxide) creates a one-two punch that is as effective as bleach at killing bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, but is safe enough to use on produce without so much as an aftertaste.

As for wood furniture, the best way to dust is with nothing more than a damp cloth. Commercial wood polishes can contain harsh chemicals and leave a very hard-to-remove residue. For an all natural polish mix two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice and apply it to your wood furniture using a soft cloth.

Use these all-natural cleaning solutions with rags you make out of old towels and t-shirts (saving money on paper towels and reducing waste) and you’re ready to clean green!


Want more green cleaning tips? Click here to learn how to clean green with lemon and baking soda.

Prefer to just buy green cleaning products? Click
here to learn about what to look for when selecting green cleaning products.


October 13, 2011

Tap Water: Better For Your Health and The Environment

Time and again we hear how great drinking water is for us. It aids in weight loss, flushes out toxins, prevents headaches and illness and giving us clear, supple skin. Yet, do we really know what we’re getting when we twist open a bottle of water?

According to the Environmental Working Group, most bottled water companies aren’t very forthcoming about what exactly is going into their bottles. Only 3 of the 173 companies the nonprofit analyzed disclosed information on where their water comes from, how or if their water is treated, and whether the results of purity testing are made public. Some of the worst-rated brands, from the companies disclosing little or no information, also happen to be some of the best-selling in the country. Aquafina, Dasani, and Poland Spring all received a grade of D for information disclosure.

According to the EWG, the only A grade option is filtered tap water. Properly filtered tap water is purer than bottled water, not to mention less expensive and better for the environment.

Unlike bottled water, tap water is regularly tested with the test results openly reported. A simple, faucet-mounted water filter can improve the smell and taste of drinking water by removing chlorine and bacterial contaminants. [Click here for additional water filtration options.]

Not sure you want to splurge on a $35 water filter and $10 re-usable bottle? Consider this: Some bottled water can cost up to 1,900 times more than tap water. According to the New York Times, a person drinking only bottled water will spend about $1,400 a year compared to the 49 cents it costs for a year's supply of tap water.

There's also the cost to the environment. One and a half million barrels of oil are used every year to manufacture disposable plastic water bottles for the U.S. That's enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year. About 80% of those bottles will end up as litter or in landfills where they’ll take at least 450 years to break down. Plus, the process of bottling water actually wastes two gallons of water for every gallon of water packaged.

So, want to drink cleaner, cheaper, greener? Just turn on the tap!


October 12, 2011

Green Tip of the Day

Shop for products made from high percentages of post-consumer waste. Products “produced with recycled materials” can include manufacturing scraps and waste that were reintroduced back into the manufacturing process, but post-consumer waste is material discarded after consumer use (i.e., garbage that's been thrown out in waste bins and dumps or littered). Therefore, products made with post-consumer content help keep more waste out of landfills.

Even if you recycle every bit of paper, plastic, and metal that comes your way, the value becomes lost if there are not enough companies making products with post-consumer waste. So, support businesses helping to reduce waste for a sustainable future and buy products made from post-consumer content or packaged in materials made from post-consumer content. The higher the percentage the better.


October 11, 2011

Green Tip of The Day

Save paper by reducing junk mail. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) or visit http://www.optoutprescreen.com/ to opt out of receiving pre-approved credit card offers for five years. You’ll have to provide personal information like your Social Security number, but it’s confidential and will only be used by the credit bureaus to process your opt out request. You can also notify the three major credit bureaus that you don’t want your personal information shared for promotional purposes. Click here for the addresses and a sample letter. Finally, register with the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service to opt out of receiving unsolicited mail and e-mail from companies that use the DMA’s Mail Preference Service.


October 9, 2011

Fair Trade, Organic Chocolate . . . A Greener, Sweeter Treat

By now we've all gotten the message that chocolate can be good for our health. Chocolate, particularly less-processed dark chocolate, contains high levels of antioxidants and flavonoids which protect against cancer, heart disease, and other diseases. Cocoa is also high in magnesium which is good for the circulatory system and heart.

Yet, despite all these great benefits, chocolate can have some very negative consequences for the people who cultivate it and the environment.

Most of the world's cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast and Latin America. Several years ago it came to light that cocoa producers in these areas were engaging in forced child labor and trafficking. While some of the worst offenders have been shut down, the problem still persists in too many places. Even if child labor is not an issue, workers on conventional chocolate farms endure difficult, even hazardous, conditions and low wages. And in may cases, the farmers themselves receive only a fraction of what the unscrupulous middlemen make.

One way to help small, local farmers provide better working conditions and wages for their workers, as well as engage in sustainable farming practices, is to support the fair trade industry. To be certified as fair trade by the Fair Trade Federation companies must guarantee a "fair price" to producers, as well as meet rigorous, transparent social and environmental standards. The goal is to help producers in developing countries become economically self-sufficient, protect the environment and bring improved living conditions to the people of these regions. Today, consumers can purchase fair trade coffee, tea, apparel and linens, grains, flowers, fruits, honey, nuts, olive oil, and sugar, as well as chocolate. Just look for the TransFair USA Fair Trade logo. TransFair is the only third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States.

Organic chocolate is also a growing market. Chocolate certified organic uses cocoa beans and other ingredients grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers. Organic cocoa trees are grown under a thick canopy of rainforest vegetation. These trees filter rain and moisture down through the vegetation and provide rich organic material which falls to the forest floor below. Organic cocoa production helps ensure the health of the rainforests' ecosystems.

Fortunately, the options for organic and fair trade chocolate continue to grow, making it easier to choose chocolate that is better for the environment and for the people who cultivate it. This Halloween opt for organic, fair trade chocolate for a sweeter treat for you and your trick or treaters.


October 6, 2011

The Problem With Plastic

The list of health problems associated with plastic grows longer by the day. Earlier this year British and U.S. researchers found an association between bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in plastics, and heart disease. The study also confirmed that BPA plays a role in diabetes and some forms of liver disease.

The problem is not so much with plastic, but with the chemical additives used in plastics. They’re necessary to mold and stabilize plastic, but only most recently have people started realizing the extent of their impact on human health.

The additives you hear most about are BPA and phthalates. BPA is used to make plastic food containers firm and vinyl products soft and pliable. It also happens to be a hormone disruptor (a fact known since the 1930s) linked to an assortment of health problems, including obesity, early puberty in girls, low sperm counts in men, reproductive problems, and asthma. It is estimated that 90% of people in the U.S. and Europe have detectable levels of BPA in their blood. In 2010 Canada declared BPA a toxic chemical, making it easier for the government to regulate its use, which may lead to an eventual all out ban of BPA in food containers.

Phthalates are chemicals used as solvents and in the process of making plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible or durable. While phthalates have been banned in toys and child care products for children under 12, they’re found in pretty much everything else. Just a few examples are food packaging, plastic bags, inflatable toys, hoses, raincoats, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, perfume, nail polish, soap, hair spray and shampoo. Phthalates have been found to disrupt the endocrine system. According the U.S. Center for Disease Control, several phthalate compounds have caused reduced sperm counts, testicular atrophy and structural abnormalities in the reproductive systems of male test animals. They have also been linked to liver cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates phthalates as water and air pollutants and the European Union prohibits phthalates in cosmetics sold in Europe.

It is also important to consider all the oil and other resources used to manufacture plastics, the pollution created in their production, and the massive amounts that end up in landfills, in the ocean, or incinerated (releasing cancer-causing pollutants into the air). While there’s no way to avoid plastics completely, there are steps you can take to guard your health and protect the environment.

  • Choose reusable over disposable. Invest in food and beverage containers made of glass, ceramic, porcelain, Pyrex, bamboo, or stainless steel instead of using bags, containers, and bottles made of plastic. Pack real silverware with your lunch. It feels more luxurious than plastic utensils anyways. And don’t forget: Reusable shopping bags are a great option for all shopping, not just groceries.
  • Be picky about packaging. Choose products in recyclable or reusable containers, such as cardboard cartons or glass jars. Opt for fresh or frozen foods in place of canned goods. Avoid plastic-wrapped food, especially fatty foods like meats and cheeses, whenever possible. You can even ask the butcher to wrap your meat in wax paper instead of plastic. Transfer any plastic-wrapped food to non-plastic containers once you get home.
  • Watch how you heat. Avoid heating food in plastic containers, especially polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate containers that contain BPA usually have a #7 recycling code on them.
  • Watch how you wash. Avoid putting plastic containers in the dishwasher. Yes, the dishwasher uses less water and energy than hand washing, but the heat and harsh detergent may cause may cause plastic to leach chemicals.
  • Just say no to vinyl and PVC. If you absolutely have to have plastic food containers, opt for those labeled as PETE or recycling codes #2, #4, and #5. Avoid those labeled #3 or #7. Instead of a vinyl shower curtain, use one made of cotton, hemp, or polyester.
  • Filter your tap water instead of buying bottled water. Make a habit out of bringing your own water in a stainless steel bottle to avoid impromptu purchases of bottled water.
  • Go fragrance-free. Fragrance almost always contains phthalates, so in addition to taking a pass on perfume and cologne choose fragrance-free personal care products (i.e., moisturizers, shampoos, deodorants, etc.) whenever possible. At home, avoid air fresheners and swap chemically-scented candles for soy- or beeswax-based wax candles scented with essential oils.
  • Opt for clothing, linens, and other housewares made of natural materials, such as organic cotton, bamboo, wool, and hemp.


October 5, 2011

Green Tip of The Day

Go paperless. Opt for electronic statements from your bank, credit card companies, and utility providers. In addition to saving paper, electronic statements are more secure and easier to keep organized than paper statements.


October 4, 2011

Green Tip of The Day

Bring your own reusable shopping bags when you shop. Americans throw out about 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags every year. According to the EPA, the processing and burning of petroleum (from which plastics are derived) is one of the main contributors to global warming. Keep a stash of bags handy so they're easy to remember and use. Click here to learn about what features to consider when selecting reusable bags.


October 2, 2011

A Green Halloween

It's October. Time for visions of ghosts and goblins (plus costume parties and candy) to start dancing in our heads. Halloween can be a fun and exciting time for children and adults alike. But you don't need to spend a fortune on plastic décor, cheap costumes, and processed foods to have a great time. A Green Halloween is healthier, costs less, and has less of an environmental impact than a traditional Halloween, without sacrificing any of the holiday fun. Check out how to make this Halloween a green one.

The Treats
The processed food industry uses over 6,000 different synthetic chemicals (check out Food Additives To Avoid). Do your trick-or-treaters (and their parents) a favor and opt for healthier options that, at the very least, do not contain hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils or artificial coloring. Organic and fair-trade treats with limited salt, sugar and caffeine are an even better idea. You may be surprised by the number of healthier, greener options on the market today. A few options include fair-trade chocolates, organic dried fruit, granola bars, or candy made with fruit juice and natural colors.

Also, try handing out less. Back in the day we had to work for our candy – walking a couple hours to fill our little plastic pumpkins. Now with so many households handing out full-size candy bars or fist-fulls of minis, kids can be done filling their basket after a single block. What's the fun in that?! Hand out just one or two pieces of good quality, healthier candy. Encourage friends and neighbors to do the same.

You could even forget the sweets all together and offer non-candy treats like a small toy made from recycled plastics, pencils, tattoos, crayons, coloring books, or stickers.

You can also think green when you are doing the trick-or-treating. If you already own a plastic pumpkin for carrying candy, use it year after year rather than buying a new one. If not, craft your own tote from a pillowcase, basket, or other already-owned item that goes with the costume. If possible, walk to where you trick-or-treat rather than drive. Older children can do reverse trick-or-treating and collect donations for charities like UNICEF, the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, or the Red Cross. Or, skip the trick-or-treating and organize a neighborhood party instead.

Costumes
Forgo costumes and accessories made of plastic, especially soft vinyl/ PVC which offgases dangerous chemicals and cannot be recycled. Instead, opt for costumes made from all-natural materials such as cotton, silk, and wool. Check thrift stores or even around your home for clothing and other materials you can use to craft your own unique costume.

Carefully consider the makeup you use as well. Many cosmetics, even the ones labeled “nontoxic”, contain mercury, lead, pthalates, parabens, and/or other harmful chemicals.

In fact, last year the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found lead in every makeup sample it analyzed. Look for eco-friendly makeup or make your own with food-based ingredients. Simply check online for recipes.

Decorating
Halloween is the second biggest holiday for the sale of décor after Christmas. Instead of spending money on plastic pumpkins and skeletons, look around for items you already own, check thrift stores, and scour online sites like Freecycle for items you can use to make your own Halloween decorations. You can use old clothes, newspaper, and leaves to craft a scarecrow or decorate with natural items that can be composted like leaves, apples, pumpkins, gourds, and hay bales.

Candles can provide the just-right spooky glow, but traditional paraffin candles can produce some pretty scary toxins when burned. The American Lung Association and the EPA have warned consumers that using paraffin candles can decrease indoor air quality. Opt for organic soy or beeswax candles scented with essential oil with non-lead wicks instead.

Parties
Start your Halloween party on the right, green note by sending invitations electronically, via email, Facebook, or a site like Evite. You'll save paper and money and make it easier for people to respond.

When it comes to any type of party, the worst environmental offender is usually all the disposable plates, cups, utensils, napkins, and tablecloths. Instead of buying paper or plastic tableware, offer reusable options. If you don't have enough at home, you can always check out thrift stores for an eclectic mix of tableware you can use for future parties. Reusable plastic cutlery and compostable paper plates are another option.

The principles of eating green apply to party food as well. Prepare as much as you can at home and opt for local and organic when possible. Reduce waste by filling pitchers with beverages rather than offering bottled or boxed drinks.

Some of the funnest party games and activities require little or no materials. Just a few options to consider: limbo, hula-hoop contest, musical chairs, dancing, dunking for apples or trying to bite apples hanging from strings, building scarecrows from recycled materials. Have guest bring candy wrappers for crafts such as candy wrapper wallets, belts, picture frames, bracelets and purses (just search “candy wrapper purse” online for ideas).

Finally, make recycling easy for guests by placing clearly labeled recycling bins in a convenient location everyone can reach.

Now, go out and enjoy your Green Halloween!