Environmental Fridays

Spring is finally here, and with it the sprouting of new life, big changes and celebration.  For many of you, the month of May brings with it your long-awaited graduation day which undoubtedly is a bittersweet cause for celebration.  Graduation photos by the wildcat and backyard barbecues often involve lots of confetti, glitter and other disposable party supplies which seem to have become absolutely essential for an end-of-semester celebration.  In the wake of the whirlwind we call finals week, I ask you to consider some more eco-friendly alternatives to cut down on unnecessary waste.

I have never fully understood the idea behind confetti or glitter.  Purchasing a bag of confetti or glitter is essentially paying for colorful plastic or paper wrapped inside more plastic which will all be used once and thrown away.  Why pay for this when nature already provides the original confetti? If you think about it, all of the bright colors of confetti are modeled after the original colors of nature: flowers. 

My advice would be to wait for just before you feel the need to mow your lawn (which you could probably ease up on – read more about Brianna Stanley’s take on America’s mowing frenzy here) or when you know the landscapers on your property will mow and gather up the little flowers popping up out of weeds that would otherwise be mowed down.  You could also gather flowers from trees that are blooming right now like dogwoods or redbuds.  If you like a more neutral color pallet, you can use green or even dead leaves as well. 

Once you’ve gathered all your colors, you can use your hands to crumble the petals or if you want more precise shapes, you can use scissors or a hole puncher to cut the petals and leaves into pieces.  Viola! Now you have free natural confetti that will return to the soil after its single and admittedly satisfying use.

Another suggestion for cutting down on party waste replaces paper plates and disposable cups.  I suggest collecting cheap plates and cups from places like Goodwill or other local secondhand stores.  This will set you up with party supplies for life (hopefully) and save you a solid amount of money over time.  If you play your cards right, you could end up paying for a reusable set for about the same price as one disposable set.  As an added bonus, this could become a fun creative project to find several unique plates and develop an interesting party set.

Both during graduation season and throughout the year, evaluate the disposable items that you might be using once and throwing out without thinking.  Even products as small as confetti or glitter have a significant impact on the planet and can be easily fixed with a little creativity and thoughtfulness.