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  • Hazel Verbo

Secrets To Simple, Eco-friendly Halloween Celebration (Sustainable Halloween Tips)



Halloween is great for many reasons – you can dress up in spooky outfits, eat lots of treats (or knock on the door to get freebies) and there are spooky parties all over town.


There’s one particularly scary aspect of the holiday that many people don’t consider: how it affects the environment.

It’s a valid concern. Just today, a new study of 19 major retailers revealed how much plastic can really be found in Halloween costumes.


According to environmental charity Hubbub and The Fairyland Trust, a nature charity, 83% of materials in 324 clothing lines are made from oil-based plastic – that’s the equivalent of 83 million plastic bottles.


The problem only gets bigger when we consider other plastic items that we buy especially for Halloween, such as decorations, cups, and cutlery for house parties, plastic wrappers on sweet treats, and the overflow of pumpkins (which will never get eaten).


Here are seven eco-friendly ways to celebrate Halloween, without losing the essence of the celebration:


Costumes


The recent standard for Halloween costumes has been prepacked, plastic, and disposable; shipped from halfway around the world. These costumes have heavy carbon footprints. They encourage single-use plastic, clog up landfills and fall out of fashion as childhood character trends change.


There are two sure ways to reduce the impact of Halloween costumes on the environment: First, get creative. Second, rent.

Browse through ideas on the web and use clothes already in your wardrobe. Pick up tips for piecing together an award-winning costume from thrift store clothing, using a sewing kit, a couple of reusable accessories, and a sense of humor. Get the kids involved, too! They’ll love the creative family time leading up to the night itself. If you’re not the crafty type, why not see what’s lying in your friends’ closets? Some people have a box of costumes ready for a second (or third, or fourth…) re-wear.


It is usually more environmentally friendly (and often significantly cheaper) to rent a costume.

Halloween only comes once a year. This year, Americans plan on spending over $8 billion on this one-time event, even as they grapple on how to celebrate safely in the middle of a pandemic. Of that $8 billion price tag, the largest chunk – about 36% — was spent on costumes.


Rent Halloween get-ups from theatrical or costume stores. This allows kids to dress up differently each year, but saves on trash, and is available for reuse the following Halloween by somebody else.


Candy


Candy goes with Halloween, for sure, but you don’t have to add to the already huge hauls of sugar that these kids bring home. Many candy wrappers from our childhood Halloween jaunts are probably still intact in landfill sites today, leaching their wasteful by-products into the soil where we grow our food, and into the water we drink.


There are several ways to reduce environmental impact (and choose healthier alternatives) on the candy front:


Choose candy in less plastic packaging.

  • Fewer plastic wrappers and fewer layers mean fewer things to throw away.


Make treats yourself.

  • Let the neighbors know what you are making and put a distinctive mark/symbol on it so they know their kids are safe. You could also put a sign up telling passersby you are giving away handmade food.


Opt for small gifts instead of candy.

  • It could be something handmade by you, or something the kids can put together by themselves at home after Halloween. Let the creative juices flow!


If you are giving out candy, opt for organic or fair-trade brands such as Dark Chocolate Minis from Camino or Yummy Earth’s Organic Lollipops. Organic candy and other treats may be more expensive but the benefits are obvious. Organic foods are healthier and better for the environment and are made from products that don’t contain pesticides or other chemicals.


You can find organic candy online, in the organics section of many grocery stores, health food stores, and in some farmers’ markets.


Bags and Buckets


Who needs plastic buckets? If you secretly hope your kid gathers some candy for you while you take them trick or treating – and what parent doesn’t? – pillowcases make great loot bags. They are washable, and a king-sized one will hold more candy than a typical cloth shopping bag.


Stay away from the molded plastic jack-o-lanterns being sold this time of year. Although they are reusable, they are still made of plastic.


Over 90% of all trash floating in our oceans is plastic, and much of that is eaten by fish, birds, and other marine life. Canvas bags, reusable shopping bags, or pillowcases are much creepier anyways.


Decorations


Like costumes, most Halloween decorations are cheap, disposable plastic trash. It gets thrown out after the holiday is gone.


If you’re crafty: This is your time to shine! Get the kids and sit down to start creating some fantastic reusable and high-quality decorations.


Create reusable garlands and bunting, “spooky” mason jars, reuse chicken wire, and start painting some Halloween posters – there are plenty of fantastic Halloween decorations out there.


You can do this every year as part of a new (greener) holiday tradition, and you won’t even realize that you’ve done the environment a huge favor!


Pumpkins


Pumpkins are all the rage when the Halloween season falls but people are quick to forget that with supply and demand comes dangerous effects on the environment. In order to grow pumpkins big enough fast enough, many are sprayed with heavy-duty pesticides. They are shipped over long distances, making their carbon footprint exorbitantly high.


The solution is easy: Buy organic, locally grown pumpkins.


Don’t forget to make pumpkin-based recipes out of the pumpkin flesh! Try any of these ones to get started: Vegan Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Ravioli, or Pumpkin Seed Granola (Without having to worry about feeding your kids pesticides!)


Travel


One other eco-friendly way to celebrate Halloween: Go a little greener in your holiday travel this All Hallows Eve. Organize carpools to reduce the number of people driving to your Halloween party.


Or even better, eliminate the cars. Take the kids trick or treating in local neighborhoods you can walk to. It is not only greener than driving to further communities but better for them.

They will get to meet and play with other children in the neighborhood – and you get to meet other parents locally, too.


Another idea is to provide special door prizes for those that show up with proof of an environmentally-friendly way to get to your place – a bus pass, transit transfer, or bicycle, for example. People will do just about anything to receive a free gift.


Parties


Having a Halloween party this year, take extra measures for safety, and also make it green-themed right from the start. Invite very few people to dress up in green-themed, home-crafted costumes, or rentals.


Serve organic food. Use dishes and cutlery instead of disposable plates and plastic forks and knives.


Encourage or reward environmental ways of getting to your party, and make sure there are eco-friendly ways for people to get home.



Halloween may be a night for ghosts, goblins, and zombies, but with a little planning and thought, it can be an environmentally friendly celebration. It can also be safer if you celebrate locally, in social-distanced environments, and follow health guidelines and protocols against Covid-19.