Reduce and Reuse This St. Patrick's Day


Gearing up for some St. Paddy’s Day revelry this Saturday? Why not do it in true “green” fashion? Earth911 rounded up five easy ways to reduce, reuse and recycle your way to an eco-friendly St. Patrick’s Day.

1. Swap, borrow and stock up on vintage

No one wants to get pinched all day on St. Paddy’s. But if you’re less than excited about the selection of green duds in your own closet, don’t go running to the mall! Instead, swap, trade and borrow your way to St. Patrick’s Day style for all the fun with half the environmental impact.

Organize a pre-St. Paddy’s Day clothing swap with friends and family, and ask each guest to bring something green that they don’t plan to wear this year. Everyone will leave with something “new to them” without using virgin resources (or dropping $40 on a cheesy leprechaun sweatshirt).

As a last resort, head to a thrift or secondhand store in your neighborhood for a few vintage finds. Who knows? A sassy lime-colored sweater or a ’70s “Kiss Me I’m Irish” T-Shirt could be hiding in one of those $2 bins. In addition to saving money, you’ll reduce your use of virgin materials and rescue a useful item from the landfill.

Get the Inside Scoop: Guide to Swapping and Selling Clothes Online

2. Break out those beads!

Since Mardi Gras beads can’t be processed by recyclers, they often end up as litter or dumped in local landfills. To combat the problem, several community groups in New Orleans work to collect old beads for reuse at other celebrations, including St. Patrick’s Day.

But you don’t have to be from The Big Easy to get in on the reuse fun. If you have a few sets of beads leftover from your Mardi Gras merriment this year, bring them out of storage early to add a touch of snazz to your St. Patrick’s Day attire.

And don’t restrict yourself to green! Show your pride by rocking all the colors of the Irish flag – green, white and orange – to make the most of your Mardi Gras leftovers.

DIY: Mardi Gras Bead Lantern

3. Go green the natural way

From beer and milkshakes to baked goods, everything goes green on St. Patrick’s Day. But it turns out that dying food and drinks green for the festivities isn’t all that bonny for the planet or your body.

Industrial artificial food coloring, known as FD&C Green No. 3 and Fast Green FCF, is derived from petroleum, a limited resource, and contains coal tar. It’s also associated with an increased risk of certain cancers and hyperactivity in children, according to a study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

If you’re still craving that touch of green in your beer or the kids’ holiday cupcakes, try using a naturally-derived food dye instead. We love this pick from Chefmaster, which gets its green hue from red cabbage and beta carotene. If you’re up for a little DIY, check out these instructions for fruit- and veggie-based homemade dyes from the Natural Resources Defense Council‘s Simple Steps site.

Learn More: Dyeing Beer Green for St. Paddy’s Day

4. Pick a sustainable sip

It just wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without an ice-cold pint. But farming practices, brewery waste, packaging and shipping emissions often give beer a less-than-pint-sized environmental footprint. So, what’s a green party-goer to do?

Brewing your own beer at home is one option to reduce your sip’s impact on the planet. But for those of us who just want to sit down with a cold one for the holiday, choosing an organic sip is usually the best bet. Brewed with organically harvested barley and hops, organic beer is easier on the planet, and it’s also said to be tastier and better for your bod.

Eel River Brewing Company, Peak Organic Brewing Company, Lakefront Brewery and Bison Brewing all make organic beers. Can’t find one of these picks at your usual beer stop? Rather than churning out emissions by driving around to specialty shops, ask a staff person at your local grocery store or beer retailer about local and organic options that are distributed in your area.

If you aren’t too thrilled with the eco selection at your local supermarket, check out one of the growing number of natural foods chains that carry sustainable sips, including Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s. Need some help selecting the right brew for you? Greenopia’s beer rating guide will point you in the right direction.

Sip On: The Best Eco Beers for St. Paddy’s Day

5. Craft with trash

If you’re in search of a few festive decorations for St. Patrick’s Day (or just a little something to keep the kids occupied), why not try some crafts with trash? Rather than shelling out your hard-earned dollars on a plastic shamrock wall-hanging, repurpose junk mail, food packaging, worn clothes and other household waste into fun decor items to help you celebrate the holiday.

For artistic inspiration, follow Earth911 on Pinterest and Tumblr, or check out our crafts library, chock-full of reuse projects guaranteed to keep the whole family entertained. For even more ideas, head to one of our favorite reuse crafting blogs, like Then She Made…, Crafts by Amanda, scrumdilly-do and Sweater Surgery.

Want More Tips?: 8 Ways to Green Your St. Paddy’s Day

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