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Eco-friendly ways to avoid post-Halloween waste

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – With Halloween over, what do you do with all those spooky pumpkins and decorations? Reporter Kiana Burkes spoke to the experts to find the most eco-friendly way to handle it.

The days after Halloween are when decorations like carved pumpkins really get scary, rotting on porches and awaiting disposal. Recycling and compost experts say it’s also a time when a lot of waste is accumulated.

“I kind of look at Halloween as the gateway holiday. So, it’s just good to start to be mindful about how much we’re consuming during this time and what is happening with whatever we have leftover,” said Alise Certa with the Chittenden Solid Waste District. She and others say the amount of waste the holiday produces is one of the scariest parts of the spooky season.

“Most of the stuff that we use on Halloween are not recyclable — from the buckets to the candy — even the costumes that most of the kids wear,” said Corey Berman with the University of Vermont’s Zero Waste Program. He says although putting up organic decorations like pumpkins is a good alternative to plastics; they also typically end up in the trash when the trick-or-treating ends. “About 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced in the country each year. The majority of those pumpkins will go to the landfill, and when they break down, they create methane gas, which is a potent greenhouse gas.”

This is why organizations like CSWD want you to focus on composting. “The good news is that people are bringing the pumpkins to us and that’s fantastic because they go over to our composting operation, Green Mountain Compost, and it becomes compost for the next season,” Certa said.

Along with making sure you handle your decorations responsibly, Berman said it’s also important to look ahead. “We’re really trying to focus back on those three R’s which we all grew up with, which is reduce, reuse, recycle. So, first of all, certainly, reduce where we can reuse what we can. And then finally, if you’re going to recycle something, make sure you’re doing it properly, just really looking at ways to minimize purchasing items at the last minute that are going to get disposed of,” he said.

And if you’re not sure whether or not something is recyclable, CSWD officials say you could always bring your waste to them and they’ll help you figure out the best way to deal with it.

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