How to celebrate graduation sustainably

Protecting the earth during graduation celebrations
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 1:08 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As graduation season approaches, it’s important to celebrate responsibly by being mindful of the products we use to commemorate the occasion, and how they impact the environment. One popular item used to capture the excitement of the moment is confetti, but according to Emily Colpack with UAB Sustainability, traditional confetti made of plastic is far from sustainable.

“When people typically purchase confetti, they’re probably looking for something that’s super shiny metallic, it really catches maybe the lights. And that’s usually plastic,” Colpack said. However, plastic confetti can have harmful effects on the environment, she explained.

“It can get in our waterways, it can get on the land, it can also damage the soil. Sometimes birds will try to eat confetti, and that’s not good,” Colpack said.

In addition to the environmental impact of plastic confetti, Colpack said many people ignore the cleanup process, which can lead to long-term consequences.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to pick up confetti that you found on the ground. It’s almost impossible,” she said.

There are affordable alternatives for traditional confetti that are more environmentally friendly, such as water-soluble confetti made of rice paper or dried flowers.

Colpack also reminded people to be mindful of other items that can have a lasting impact on the environment, such as Mylar balloons.

“If you have balloons and you release them, they have to go somewhere, and people don’t always remember where they go. When they come back down, they can pollute our waterways as well,” she said.

Colpack emphasized the importance of taking care of the planet we live on.

“We wouldn’t be here without the Earth, and so it’s really important to remember that we should take care of the world that we live on,” she said.

For those looking to purchase eco-confetti, Colpack recommended buying water-soluble options and making sure the package is labeled as such.

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