TIPS FOR A SUSTAINABLY EGGSCELLENT EASTER

Easter Eggs

The Easter Bunny will soon be hopping our way! Enjoy these tips for a holiday celebration that is as sustainable as it is eggciting!

  • Use locally produced foods for your holiday meal.
  • Did you know that the White House traditionally uses wooden eggs instead of plastic eggs for the annual Easter Egg Roll? Use wooden eggs instead of plastic eggs for your celebration, too. If you must use plastic eggs, choose recyclable eggs or biodegradable eggs made from corn plastic. Recycle your eggs when your celebration is complete or store them and reuse them for next Easter. Or, look for unique ways to reuse your eggs. Use them to store small items such as craft beads, buttons or loose change … use them as learning tools to teach numbers, colors and motor skills … decorate them with the names of herbs and plants and use them to adorn your garden and mark your seedlings. There are many possibilities!
  • Choose natural grass such as raffia or shredded paper that can be recycled instead of plastic grass for your Easter baskets.
  • Use baskets made of natural fibers such as wood, wicker or seagrass instead of plastic baskets, and reuse baskets every year.
  • To reduce plastic and paper waste, fill baskets with homemade treats instead of wrapped candies and practical alternatives to plastic favors such as seed packets, books, soy based crayons, school supplies and wooden puzzles.
  • Use natural dyes to color Easter eggs. Spices, fruit and vegetable skins, fruit juices and vegetable juices can create beautiful eggs. Try beets, red cabbages, red onions, yellow apples, blueberries, pomegranates, cranberries, red grapes, paprika, chili powder and turmeric. For spices, mix one cup of water and 2 tablespoons of spice with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. For fruit and vegetable skins, mix one cup of water and the skins of 6 fruits or vegetables with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. For fruit and vegetable juices, mix one cup of juice with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Soak the eggs in the solution for 30 minutes to 24 hours, depending on the depth of the color you want to achieve. Once the eggs are dyed, place them on a rack to dry.

FOR MORE IDEAS AND INFORMATION …

Sustainable Easter Ideas on Pinterest

Sustainable Easter Ideas from The Huffington Post

A More Sustainable Easter Basket

20 Eco-Friendly Easter Egg Ideas

Natural Egg Dyeing Tips

50 Homemade Easter Candy Recipes

 

 

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Season’s Greenings

Article from Fort Bragg Environmental Management

The holiday season is a season to celebrate … to reflect on the waning year and look forward to the year ahead … to enjoy special moments with families and friends. Yet, the holiday season can also be a season to be conscious of the environment. You don’t have to be The Grinch Who Stole Christmas to be GREEN! You can be green by incorporating some sustainable practices into your holiday traditions.

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BRIGHT IDEAS

  • To light your home for the holidays and conserve energy, use energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) lights. LED lights consume 80 to 90 percent less energy than conventional incandescent holiday lights and can save electric costs during the season. To light a Christmas tree for 12 hours each day for 40 days, one would spend an average of $25.13 with incandescent lights but only $0.56 with LED lights. In addition, LED lights have a lifespan of 200,000 hours whereas incandescent lights have a lifespan of only 3,000 hours. LED lights are affordable and available in a variety of styles and colors, and they are available at most major retailers.
  • Power down your light display during daylight hours. Always extinguish your lights when you are not at home and when you retire for the night.

DUTIFUL DECORATIONS

  • Adorn your home with natural, biodegradable items such as fresh flowers, dried herbs, fruits, pine boughs, pine cones and berries.
  • Create your own ornaments and decorations with reclaimed materials.
  • Reuse ornaments and decorations every year.
  • If possible, choose recyclable ornaments and decorations.
  • Use soy candles instead of paraffin candles. Paraffin candles are petroleum-based and can emit chemicals when burned.

WRAPPERS’ DELIGHTS

  • The waste generated in the United States increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, and one of the largest sources of waste during the holidays is discarded wrapping paper. In fact, half of the paper consumed in America is used to wrap or decorate consumer products. This year, choose recyclable wrapping paper or paper that is manufactured from recycled content.
  • Reclaimed paper from maps, calendars, newspapers and magazines can be economical and sustainable alternatives to traditional wrapping paper.
  • Be creative and think outside the roll. Reusable materials such as glass jars, tin boxes and colorful fabrics can also create unique presentations. Consider natural materials such as raffia, dried fruits, cinnamon sticks, holly, berries and pine boughs to trim your presents.

GREEN EVERGREENS

  • Live Christmas trees are generally more sustainable than artificial Christmas trees. However, live Christmas trees can be cultivated with chemical pesticides, fertilizers and colorants. Consider a locally-harvested, organic Christmas tree.
  • Every year, 50 million Christmas trees are purchased in North America, and nearly 30 million of those trees are discarded as trash. Live Christmas trees should be recycled. For residents of Fort Bragg housing, Corvias Military Living will offer a tree collection from December 26 until January 17. Residents may contact their community centers for more information. The Fort Bragg Landfill will also accept Christmas trees for recycling after December 26. Call 396.6873 or 432.0295 for details.

 GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK

  • There are many options for festive but sustainable holiday presents. Consider “green” gifts.
  • Give an experience such as movie tickets or passes to a local museum.
  • Americans send over three billion greeting cards during the holiday season, so to reduce the paper waste, send your holiday greetings and party invitations electronically. If you prefer traditional greeting cards, choose cards printed on recycled paper. Recycle your cards after the holidays.

ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERRED PARTIES

  • Choose local and organic foods.
  • Use reusable plates, glasses and utensils instead of disposable products. If you must use disposable products, choose environmentally preferred materials made from recycled content or materials that are recyclable, compostable or biodegradable. Avoid Styrofoam products.

RESOLUTIONS TO REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE

  • Common holiday wastes including electronics and waste vegetable oil are recyclable at the Fort Bragg Recycling Center. The Fort Bragg Recycling Center is located on the corner of Butner Road and Reilly Road, across from the Fort Bragg Veterinary Clinic and just prior to the entrance to Pope Army Airfield. Hours are Monday through Friday from 0730 until 1600. Call 432.6412 for more information.
  • Nearly 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Choose rechargeable batteries to reduce waste.
  • If you receive a gift that you cannot use, donate it to charity. Or, regift it wisely.

SUSTAINABLE GIFT IDEAS AND OTHER IDEAS FOR A GREEN HOLIDAY …

Uncommon Goods and Recycled Gifts

The Tree Hugger Green Gift Guide

100 Green Gifts

Green Gift Ideas from the Natural Resources Defense Council

Eco-Friendly Gifts

Green America’s Holiday Gift Guide

Green Gifts from The Huffington Post

Creating a Green Christmas

How to Have a Green Christmas

Sustainable Decorations on Pinterest

Be Ever-Green When Choosing Your Christmas Tree

Article by Jonelle Kimbrough, Fort Bragg Environmental Management

Strange, but true: the first artificial Christmas tree was created in the 1930s by the Addis Company with the same design and production process used to create another familiar item: the toilet brush.

Now, Christmas trees are a major seasonal commodity – whether they are reminiscent of Charlie Brown’s wan pine or spectacularly realistic replicas of majestic firs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, consumers in North America purchased over nine million artificial trees and over 50 million live trees last year. A Nielsen survey conducted by the American Christmas Tree Association discovered that consumers will spend over one billion dollars on artificial trees and $984 million on live trees annually. Before you deck your halls for the holidays, consider the environmental impacts of your Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree Branch

THE PROs and CONs OF AN ARTIFICIAL TREE

Artificial trees are convenient because they may be enjoyed year after year. A variety of styles, sizes and colors are available.  They are becoming increasingly realistic in their appearance, and they often feature festive lights and decorations. Since they are purchased only once, they require no annual expense. They also require minimal maintenance. Daily watering is not required, and the removal of fallen needles is unnecessary. After the holidays, disposal is usually not a concern. Artificial trees can simply be stored away until the following year.

However, many artificial Christmas trees are manufactured with petroleum based plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC and similar plastics can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the manufacturing process and during the consumer life cycle. These VOCs include carcinogens such as dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride. Of the artificial trees sold in the United States every year, 85 percent are imported from foreign markets, and these may contain lead and tin – additives used to create more malleable PVC. In fact, many artificial trees are labeled with warnings due to their heavy metal content. Most artificial trees cannot be recycled. Furthermore, they are not biodegradable and create waste when discarded.

THE PROs AND CONs OF A LIVE TREE

Live trees are a renewable resource. Many are farmed specifically for the purpose of holiday decoration, so seedlings are continuously replanted, and forests are sustainably managed. Live trees provide a habitat for wildlife. Live trees can be recycled for numerous purposes. Mulch can be used for projects such as landscaping, trail maintenance, habitat restoration and beach erosion mitigation. The Packaging Corporation of America in Wisconsin uses wood pulp from recycled trees to power its mill in a unique waste-to-energy initiative. A pharmeceutical company in Canada has even created an influenza medication from the shikimic acid extracted from the needles of discarded Christmas trees. Live trees also improve air quality. A single farmed tree absorbs more than one ton of carbon dioxide throughout its life. Each acre of trees produces enough oxygen for the daily needs of 20 people. While transportation costs are involved in the markets for both live trees and artificial trees, live trees are often grown locally or regionally whereas artificial trees are often imported from foreign countries. Therefore, live trees reduce emissions and fuel costs associated with international shipping.

On the other hand, live trees are often treated with pesticides and fertilizers that are potentially detrimental to public health. Some live trees are even chemically color enhanced. Live trees do have to be harvested and purchased every year, and they require more maintenance such as consistent watering and removal of fallen needles. Live trees are often blamed for fires, but most incidents are the result of electrical fires and not dry trees.

THE BOTTOM LINE

So, is an artificial tree or a live tree more environmentally conscious? The real environmental impact lies not in the amount of use one can garner from each tree but in the content, production process and disposal options. Recent research has demonstrated that an artificial tree would have to be reused for more than 20 years to be as environmentally sound as a live tree. The typical life span of an artificial tree, however, is only six to ten years, depending on its quality.

If the one-time cost and minimal maintenance of an artificial tree are most appealing, choose an option that has been manufactured in the United States to reduce exposure to contaminants. Use your artificial tree as long as possible. When you are ready to purchase a new model, donate your unwanted tree to a community agency such as a school, recreation center or charity to reduce waste. You could even repurpose components of your obsolete tree to create wreaths and garlands.

If you prefer a live tree, choose an organic option that is treated with few or no chemical pesticides, fertilizers or color enhancers. The North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension estimates that each tree grown in North Carolina needs only a quarter of an ounce of pesticides. Most state farmers, though, rely on pesticide-free integrated pest management techniques. If possible, opt for a locally or regionally harvested tree to ensure minimal contamination and to support the local economy. Visit Local Harvest for a list of tree farms and growers in your area.

Recycle your live tree at the end of the holidays. Here are some local options …

– The Fort Bragg Landfill will accept Christmas trees for recycling after December 26. Landfill access is located off Longstreet Road just prior to the ACP. Hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 AM to 3 PM. Call 396.6873 or 432.0295 for more information.

– Corvias Military Living will offer a curbside Christmas tree collection from December 26 through January 17 for residents of post housing. Residents may place their trees at the curb on their designated trash collection days.

Cape Fear Botanical Garden will host the annual Grinding of the Greens in January. Volunteers will turn  Christmas trees into mulch for the Garden.

– The City of Fayetteville and other municipalities may offer Christmas tree recycling as well. Contact your municipality or waste management provider for more information.

PLEASE REMOVE ALL LIGHTS, DECORATIONS AND STANDS PRIOR TO RECYCLING YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE.

Do not burn Christmas trees or their branches. Fresh pine and fir woods are extremely flammable. Fires generated by Christmas trees can rapidly burn out of control and create an accumulation of a combustible and potentially dangerous compound called creosote in fireplaces and chimneys.

Be Thankful, Be Green

Article from Fort Bragg Environmental Management

Thanksgiving is a time of celebration … a time when families and friends come together for fun, fellowship and FOOD!

Thanksgiving Dinner

Did you know that you can host a fabulous Thanksgiving and be sustainable, too?

Sustainable Fort Bragg would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and share some ideas for turning your holiday meal into an environmentally friendly feast.

– Purchase seasonal, locally harvested foods and locally raised meats for your meal. Locally produced foods are often fresher and more flavorful. In addition, they support the area economy and regional farmers.

– Incorporate certified organic and minimally processed foods into your meal. Look for the USDA Organic Seal.

– The average American family discards 25 percent of all food prepared on Thanksgiving, so plan your meal wisely to minimize waste.

– Use environmentally-preferred and biobased cleansers to ready your home for your guests.

– Lower the setting on your thermostat. The oven and your holiday guests will provide plenty of warmth!

– Use reusable baking dishes, plates, glasses and cloth napkins rather than plastic, paper, Styrofoam or other disposable options. If you must use disposable items, then choose compostable, biodegradable or recyclable options and dispose of them sustainably.

– Conserve energy by preparing dishes in the microwave or on the range instead of in the oven whenever possible. If you prefer to use the oven, dishes that can be prepared at the same temperature may be placed in the oven together to save time and power.

– Adorn your table with natural materials. Fresh flowers, dried herbs, leaves, berries and pinecones are festive, sustainable and economical decorations. You can probably find these materials in your own yard, and they are biodegradable.

– Choose soy or vegetable based candles instead of paraffin candles. Paraffin candles are petroleum-based, and they can emit chemicals that diminish indoor air quality.

– If food remains following your meal, send a plate with each of your guests or incorporate it into other recipes.

– Wash only full loads of dishes to save energy and water.

– Recycle as much as possible. Remember: plastics, aluminum cans, steel cans, glass and paperboard boxes are all recyclable. If your community recycling program does not accept glass, you can recycle it at the Fort Bragg Recycling Center. The Fort Bragg Recycling Center is located on the northwest corner of Butner Road and Reilly Road in the Directorate of Public Works campus. The entrance is off Reilly Road, across from the veterinary clinic and just prior to Pope Army Airfield. Hours are Monday through Friday, 0730 to 1600.

– Dispose of your waste vegetable oil properly. Pour it into a sealed container and place the container in your household refuse, or recycle it at the Fort Bragg Recycling Center. Never pour vegetable oil into a drain!

– If you live off post, consider composting your vegetable scraps.

Here are more ideas for a green Thanksgiving …

How to Go Green on Thanksgiving Day

A Greener Thanksgiving

Your Guide to a Green Thanksgiving

Tips for a Green Thanksgiving

Action Tips: Have a Green Thanksgiving

Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers from The Food Network

12 Creative Turkey Sandwich Recipes

Makeovers for Thanksgiving Leftovers

16 Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving: Round Two

Steps to a Spooky and Sustainable Halloween

Press release from Fort Bragg Environmental Management

Green leaves are turning to shades of crimson and amber. Evenings are growing crisp and cool. Jack-o-lanterns are appearing on front porches. Halloween is near.

Amber Leaf

The joys of Halloween are exciting. They also create monstrous financial and environmental impacts. Halloween is a $6 billion industry. Consumers buy 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins every year – 99 percent of which are discarded in trash. Abandoned Halloween costumes create 6,500 tons of waste each year. You can enjoy a ghastly but green Halloween with simple and sustainable steps.
• Buy decorations that may be used year after year to prevent frightening amounts of waste.
• Create your own devilish decorations from recycled materials such as ghosts from bed sheets.
• Purchase your petrifying pumpkin from a local farm or nursery. Choose an organic gourd if one is available.
• Conquer the fear of Halloween utility bills by choosing Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting. LED lights last 133 times longer and cost 80 percent less to operate than incandescent lights. They are also safer because they generate less heat than traditional bulbs. If you use lights in your Halloween display, be sure to power them down during daylight hours and when you go to bed for the night to save electricity.
• Candles can create ambiance but can also emit gruesome volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Choose soy based or vegetable based candles instead of petroleum based paraffin candles. Paraffin candles can release chemicals such as toluene and benzene. Prolonged contact with these chemicals is associated with health concerns such as asthma and cancer.
• Indulge your boys and ghouls with sustainable treats. Fill your candy bowl with healthier choices such as Fair Trade sourced chocolates and natural or organic candies. Consider items such as dried fruits and pumpkin seeds. Children will also appreciate alternatives to candies and foods including school supplies such as soy crayons and seed paper bookmarks or toys such as recycled paper playing cards or puzzles. Use reusable containers instead of plastic bags to carry your loot.
• Trick or treating? Visiting a haunted house? Walk to your destination or arrange a Halloween carpool to reduce eerie emissions and to reduce traffic. You will create a safer experience for the witches and warlocks.
• Create a costume from recycled clothing and materials. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) lurks in many commercial Halloween costumes. PVC can release detrimental VOCs. Raid your closets and visit vintage clothing shops for treasure troves of potential recycled costumes, or consider a costume trade with friends to save resources and money.
• Cosmetics can create wonderful werewolves and grotesque goblins but the chemicals in many Halloween cosmetics can be truly terrifying. Choose biobased options and cosmetics colored with natural dyes.
• Halloween parties can also be eek-o-friendly. Send your invitations electronically. Plan a healthy menu. Buy local and organic foods for your guests. Use reusable service ware instead of disposable service ware or choose recyclable and compostable items. Provide access to recycling.

For more ideas, visit Green Halloween.