Spring in Athens is an exciting time for many as the weather warms up, flowers start blooming and the end of the semester draws near. For many students, the end of the semester also means getting ready for graduation and taking graduation photos at iconic locations on campus such as the Arch, the Founders Garden and the Herty Field Fountain.

While graduating seniors might be tempted to create Instagram-worthy photos using colorful confetti, this confetti comes with a dark side. Confetti litter negatively impacts our local environment because it can run into our waterways and also confuse wildlife that might think the colorful pieces are food.

Confetti creates an obstacle for the University of Georgia Facilities Management Division Grounds Department in its efforts to keep campus clean. Since the pieces are so small, the confetti must be removed with a blower or a shovel, and sometimes even lawnmowers. Grass clippings are usually composted, but clippings with confetti mixed in must be taken to the landfill.

With this in mind, there are plenty of biodegradable alternatives to using traditional confetti that will help sustain our campus’ beauty while also helping students take beautiful graduation photos.

Here are some confetti alternatives to use this graduation season:

  1. Flower petals: Flower or rose petal confetti is a great alternative to paper or plastic confetti that will make for some absolutely gorgeous grad photos while also keeping our campus clean.
  2. Plant or bird seeds: Seeds are an eco-friendly option that can either lead to more flowers being planted or provide a snack for local birds.
  3. Vanishing confetti: You can take the DIY route by creating this vanishing confetti that disappears when it gets wet.

When you’re taking grad photos this year, remember that confetti is litter and although it might make for one or two fun pictures, it’s negative effects remain in our local environment for much longer than the couples of minutes it takes to make a photograph.

Written by Jordan Meaker