Fall Fest 2022

So it’s been some time since I’ve been with you all. My family and me in particular really struggled with sickness over the last few months. I was mostly over things by the annual Fall Fest my neighborhood holds. Normally I don’t table at this event (I table at our spring and summer events) but the event chair was so excited to have a fall themed zero waste table I got swept up in her excitement and agreed to table. Granted, I had some serious post infectious coughing, but everyone was super patient and eager to learn so it worked out well. I know it’s late and it is almost winter, but I still want to share some lessons and ideas.

Setting Up

Since this was a fall and Halloween themed table, I needed to create new tabling content. I re-worked and updated my information from Working Toward A Zero Waste Halloween and had my local UPS print it for me since I don’t have a color printer and color is more impactful than black and white in my opinion. I am fortunate that I have the option to print, pay and choose color, not everyone does.

I really wanted to be able able to take a bag and a small box of items with me, but I had so many ideas for display, examples and materials I ended up with my folding wagon again.

I use my Zero Waste Block Leader yard sign and display it on top of a large table cloth I purchased solely for my tabling in a color that matches the sign.

I did purchase new sign holders since I had a set amount I wanted and there would be no guarantee Austin Creative Reuse would have any, let alone the number I wanted. I wanted sign holders so I can reuse them for my tabling and they protect my information. We have a lot of kids and I will tell you that one of the table flyers did get cookie crumbs all over it.

Yes, I recycled all the plastic bags from the sign holders with other plastic bags.

My table display included the following information:

  • What do do with which types of pumpkins
  • Treat recommendations and ideas for food-free and more zero waste focused
  • How to cook pumpkins seeds from fresh pumpkins so nothing is wasted
  • An example of a fall run to Trader Joe’s and the tag “What Do I Do With?” donuts and cookie containers were a big interest on that page.
  • Costume ideas about swaping, reusing, etc.
  • A flyer for Austin Creative Reuse they provided upon my request. It’s a great place for supplies to create costumes and one mom was so grateful for the reminder, she snapped a photo and they drove over right after the event!
  • An example of a dry, formerly water logged, Styrofoam tombstone I retrieved from one of our lakes that are fed by storm drain runoff. It’s one of three different tombstones my family found in the same lake doing neighborhood cleanups this spring.
  • ARR’s Compost Bin Buddy program with a kitchen compost collector, demo box of compost bags from HEB (I make the assumption this is the most accessible grocery store for most people and HEB is a sponsor of this event as well as being located in my neighborhood). I always get questions on the best bag to use and how to address some current problem someone is dealing with.
  • Canned pumpkin and a pie pan (I like people to stop and ask my why something is on my table and how to handle it)
  • Flyers for Recycle and Reuse Drop-off Center
  • How to Recycle and Compost brochures
  • My yard sign
  • a flyer for our neighborhood’s next yard sale and bulk collection day

What were the questions I received?

  • I’m in an apartment and I want to compost. What do I do?
  • You can recycle Styrofoam? Meat trays too?
  • How do I get a compost cart?
  • What do I do with ice cream cartons?

Seriously, that’s it. Nothing seasonally related. I had so many apartment conversations about composting so I am glad that I was there, and the whole compost process is one we definitely need to work on expanding education on. I was grateful for the opportunity I had to create and display the fall content, it was just a bit odd that fall wasn’t discussed.

Treats

One of the flyers I have includes alternatives to candy so that items are easier to compost, recycle or reuse. I was largely inspired by the Teal Pumpkin Project in this regard. In addition to providing allergy-free treats, the recommendations tend to be longer lasting and/or less wasteful than candy which produces basically trash. I am basically over any kind of TerraCycle push on recycling everything though them. TerraCycle accepts candy wrappers and many things not traditionally recycled to be recycled; however you have to pay them to recycle those things that cannot go in curbside recycling carts. Candy produces trash. I don’t want to cause more actions for consumers. Instead I want to encourage choices that are easier on the consumer and that vote with our dollars.

Our Fall Fest event chair purchased the large bags of prizes pictured above. They are mostly plastic and few of it is individually packaged so something like this may be a good option based on your particular needs. Technically the plastic items can be recycled if they break; however check with your local recycling for guidance on if the items have to meet a specific size, color, and/or have the recycling symbol and plastic number identified on the item. Here in Austin, I would take these plastic toys to the Recycle and Reuse Drop-off Center if anything broke. The items are smaller than my palm and would therefore fall through the single-stream recycling sorters. These types of toys don’t usually have the recycling symbol on them so as consumers we don’t know if they are a single type of plastic (ex. #5) or composite (mix) of plastics. The Recycle and Reuse Drop-off Center’s contractor in charge of the Hard Plastics recycling station would make that determination.

At the end of the day, I don’t know what the best answer is for participating in Halloween and giving out zero waste items. It’s hard to find fun-size candy in boxes and when you do it’s mixed with other candy that comes in wrappers and all of the candy comes in a big plastic bag made of cellophane that can’t be recycled. Tattoos have that cellophane plastic cover and what is the tattoo actually made of? All these plastic toys will break and maybe they have too much mixed plastic and glue to be recycled anyway… Most things longer lasting or greener are cost prohibitive for the amount of trick or treaters most people probably get, or the kids may not be interested. I always thing of holiday pencils when I write this. Pencils are touted as a better option for various reasons but they usually produce a lack luster response from kids and they’re painted, so they shavings and pencil all have to go in the trash as it’s used up.

Dressing Up

My outfit choice is, because it’s me, themed and intentional. Pardon my photo contortion, I was trying to take a selfie between talking and also not include anyone else unintentionally in the background. I’m very conscious about photo permissions and use.

  • I am wearing my City of Austin Zero Waste Block Leader shirt for branding in case someone is looking for me. People know to find me by my shirt since it’s the same one I wear to all our events.
    • Easy identification of myself for questions is more important to me than wearing something fun for the event. This is why I’m in my shirt and not a costume.
  • It was warm and windy so I am wearing my wool& Sierra dress to be comfortable and not flash people. I had a light skirt on earlier but I know for fact it would blow up walking over to the event so I changed.
  • I am wearing my 4ocean bracelets in two themes. I have fall/Halloween on one wrist and zero waste (recycling and compost color coding for Austin) on the other wrist. In Austin, recycling carts and trucks are blue, and compost carts and trucks are green (or white), though the truck colors can changes for numerous reasons and so is not a hard and fast rule.
    • I am a 4ocean Ambassador so I promote awareness of ocean and water trash wearing my bracelets, using my reusable water bottle (present though not pictured – it also coincidentally matches the City of Austin blue), using my trash tongs and cleanup bags, and promoting their items that are made of recycled content and fund cleaning up our waterways. My ambassador link is https://bit.ly/3G6qGrN¬†and you can get 20% off your first three purchases with my discount code: TAYLORYOUNGBLOOD20.
    • Black: Osborne Reef
    • Orange beaded: Albatross
    • Blue beaded: 4ocean
    • Green beaded: Earth Day 2022 (each Earth Day has it’s own bracelet)
  • Not pictured are my Giesswein shoes made of sustainably and ethically sourced wool.

You may also like:

Working Toward A Zero Waste Halloween

Tiny Toys and Trinkets

Teal Pumpkin Project

Pumpkins After Halloween

A 100 Day WOOL& Dress Challenge

Product Review: Giesswein Shoes

Fishing Line Recycling

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