10 Ways to Go Green on St. Patrick’s Day
In order to maximize fun and goodwill, read below for 10 surefire ways to make St. Patrick’s Day crazy-green. (And then you can tell those haters pinching you for not wearing green that, in thought and execution, you are totally green all over.)
1. Find your St. Patrick’s Day accessories at thrift stores, on eBay, and other places where used goods are sold.
Why? Because it lessens the effect that manufactured cheap plastic goods have on the environment. Take, for example, those sparkly shamrock headbands you love wearing. When they’re made, tons of chemicals are used to produce the plastic, dye them, decorate them. All of these chemicals get released into the environment and take their toll.
Purchasing used goods is a great way to not only look super cool and Irish, but also use something that already exists and that doesn’t have to be chemically produced for you to use. Ecolife has a great piece on buying used toys that I think is completely applicable to all that St. Patty’s Day gear we love to purchase. Here is their list of reasons why you should buy used:
- Buying used costs much less than buying new.
- Used products require no new resources or energy to create.
- Landfill space is preserved.
- Useful materials and given a second life rather than discarded before their usefulness has been exhausted.
- Buying used usually means buying locally, which reduces the greenhouse gases emitted to get it to your home.
- Second hand toys are inherently fair trade.
- If a toy was made with off-gassing materials like paints and adhesives, they may well have already released all of their volatile organic compounds (VOCs) making them safer for your indoor air quality.
2. Don’t eat meat or animal products this week—or ever.
I was surprised to find out from PETA just how much the meat industry affects our environment. Apparently the industry and its factory farming is attributed with putting the most greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere (more than cars, ships, and planes combined).
According to a United Nations report from 2010, “a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.” Watch this short, informative video called “Meat Is Not Green” and then feel a little bit greener for knowing how to avoid meals that decrease environmental stability.
3. Make a vegan dessert to share with friends.
Here’s a short list of snacks and tasty desserts that will convey to your friends, “Yeah, I am super Irish.”
- Irish nachos (OK, I can’t speak to the Irish authenticity of these, but they look awesome—like the perfect late night snack after an evening of St. Patrick’s Day festivities.)
- Cock of the north (a dish with colcannon, beer gravy, and soda bread. Mmm.)
- Irish whiskey cake (with a more detailed recipe here)
- Irish soda bread
- Irish cake bombs
4. If you love to celebrate your heritage with a pint of brew, make sure to choose vegan- and vegetarian-friendly beers.
Guinness, for example, is unfortunately not vegan and traditional hops drinks are made using harmful pesticides. Instead, try vegan options like Bulmers Pear Cider and Krombacher Pils or vegetarian options like Harp Irish Lager. Find more options for vegetarian and/or vegan-friendly beers here, or try the eco-friendly stouts listed below from Green Upgrader:
- Chocolate Stout from Bison Brewing
- Organic Stout from Hawkshead Brewery
- Laurelwood’s Organic Portland Roast Espresso Stout
- Old Plowshare Organic Stout from North Coast Brewing Company
- Wolaver’s Certified Organic Oatmeal Stout
5. Drink and eat from recyclable tableware.
Having or attending a St. Patrick’s Day party? Show off your green-dyed beverages in biodegradable cups that use “corn plastic” and avoid using non-biodegradable plastic utensils by bringing or using your own silverware. (A note about corn cups: remember that not all corn products are biodegradable—some can only be composted and do not break down. Be sure to check labels.)
Reasons: According to Green America’s webpage for “Ten Things You Should Never Buy Again,” many everyday plastics like cups, forks, and knives can contain PVC. “Vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is a known human carcinogen,” the site says. “Also, additives, such as lead and cadmium, are sometimes added to PVC to keep it from breaking down; these additives can be particularly dangerous in children’s toys. PVC is also the least-recycled plastic.”
Their action steps say that you should “avoid plastics that are labeled as PVC or #3. Look for #1 and #2 plastics, which are easier to recycle and don’t produce as many toxins.”
6. Buy organic chartreuse roses for your significant other.
So, traditionally, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t the most romantic of holidays. But these chartreuse roses from Organic Bouquet are pretty irresistible (especially if you’re like me and would rather sit on your couch and stare at pretty flowers than stumble around town for the annual St. Patty’s bar crawl).
Plus, partial proceeds from each purchase are donated to Green America, a nonprofit founded in 1982 whose mission is to “harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.”
7. Dye your beverages green using eco-friendly, natural food coloring.
Skip the store-bought food coloring and dyes that often include chemicals that are harmful to you and the environment. Instead, make green dyes from saffron and gamboge, spinach, or sap. Slight warning: Use a strong beer for this DIY, because oftentimes the spinach dye base can slightly flavor your brew.
Follow these instructions posted by the Old School Pastry blog earlier this year, and you’ll be good to go.
Spinach [dye]: Wash and drain a sufficient quantity of spinach, pound it well in a mortar, and squeeze the pounded leaves in a coarse cloth to extract all the juice. Put it in a pan [on medium-high heat] and stir occasionally until it curdles, which will be when it is at the boiling point. Then take it off and strain off the water with a fine sieve. The residue left is the green. Dry it and rub it through a lawn sieve.
8. Celebrate St. Pawtrick’s Day to promote animal welfare.
You read that right. St. Pawtrick’s Day is an actual thing—there is an adoption event going on in LA this Saturday and an event to benefit the Humane Society of New York in NYC on Wednesday. So, sign up to volunteer or participate in those if you can by visiting Ruff Patches or visit the Facebook event page to RSVP for St. Pawtrick’s Day in NYC.
Not in either of those cities? Don’t fret! You can be part of your own St. Pawtrick’s Day adventure by donating to the Humane Society and ASPCA, volunteering at your local no-kill shelter, or just hanging out with your attention-seeking pets.
9. Give yourself a green manicure (you too, guys).
Many ladies (and some men!) show their St. Patrick’s Day spirit with a coat or two of green nail polish. Undoubtedly, it’s made with and has a lot of chemicals—which is why it’s so great that there are now tons of environment-safe products on the market. So, not only will you look really good with green nail paint (in punchy colors like Hunter and Ceasefire), but it’ll also be peachy keen for the Earth. Izzitgreen has rounded up a few lovely brands with green shades for the masses, listed below. (And, guys, if you really don’t want to paint your super-masculine nails, go ahead and just buy some for your favorite lady.)
- Scotch Naturals WaterColors in Ceasefire
- Suncoat Water-Based Nail Polish in Apple Green
- Zoya Nail Polish in Tangy and Midori
- American Apparel Nail Lacquer in Hunter and Army Jacket
- Priti NYC in Fishbone Cactus
10. Donate to the Red Cross to help Japan in their rescue and recovery efforts.
Help the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan by donating money to help rescue and aid them, to help rebuild the destroyed farms and houses across Northern Japan, and so that they can begin rebuilding a large portion of their country. If you haven’t already, here’s your chance. And if you have, here’s your chance to do it again. And if for some reason you need a bit of a nudge, just read this America.gov article from 2005 about how generous Japan was to the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina. For more information, read our recent articles about the Japan earthquake and tsunami here and here.
Last but not least: Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Stay safe and may the luck o’ the Irish be with you.
By Ingrid Ostby, ecorazzi