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Tips For Zero-Waste Halloween 2021

What better time to embrace fantasy, traditions, and, naturally, candies than a night laden with the magical feels of Halloween. No doubt, it is all whimsy and creativity that is until the true spook touches down— wasted pumpkins, streets littered with a colossal tide of plastic candy wrappers, decorations wastes, costumes piles. Please …!

How wasteful is Halloween?

Halloween pumpkin waste alone amounts to 30.3 million tonnes of food waste in the United States— over 1 billion pounds of discarded pumpkin are left to decay in landfills across the country every year. Like material waste isn’t scary enough, there’s the financial waste— the consumers of the United States are expected to splurge about $708 million on pumpkins in 2021. Meanwhile, Halloween expenditures this year are estimated to be around  $10.14 billion. Given the crazy celebrations of Halloween, these metrics are not a startling surprise. But they are significantly alarming when you realize that it is only from one occasion— a monumental load of waste associated with just one fun night of spooky revelry meals, beverages, and costumes.

Halloween and Pumpkin waste

Image by Matthew Henry

With carbon emissions increasing year after year, it's critical to be aware of why Halloween is bad for the environment. And along with it, put efforts to help the world by making green adjustments in our lives, notably on a festive season like Halloween which is observed by millions around the world.

Planning for DIY eco-friendly Halloween decorations and treats can help you get the most from Halloween with lesser monetary expense and waste generation. With a few eco-friendly changes, the spooky holiday can still be a huge hit. Instead of purchasing retail items that consume a large number of resources, you may benefit from the greener alternatives that will last for years and not just one night. Whether you're enjoying the company of a small group of pals or organizing a large party, here are some of our favorite tips for having fun during Halloween while remaining environmentally conscious.

  • Maybe Don’t Run To The Candy Store?
Teats for Halloween

Image by Sarah Pflug

Sugar treats are perhaps among the first things that come to mind when we picture Halloween. While there is no escaping the sweet delight of candies and chocolate bars, what you can do is opt for Fairtrade Certified chocolates made by the companies committed to supply chain sustainability. The candy wrappers and treat bags are major ecological issues concerning Halloween. They contribute to a massive amount of plastic waste generation, which are usually not recyclable, ending up in landfills and water bodies. Another major issue with Halloween candy is the ingredient in retail goodies. It includes palm oil, an unsustainable material that burdens the ecosystems — causes deforestation, and destroys rainforests. So, what can you do at home to be more sustainable? You can prepare your own treats by choosing homemade candies over single-use treats that may or may not include palm oil.

Celebrate Halloween sustainably by choosing candies wrapped in foil or other recyclable materials. If you're making candy treat bags, wrap them in plant-based alternatives like cellophane wrappers instead of plastic. They may not be recyclable but are compostable and biodegradable, making them an eco-friendlier choice.

  • Encourage Fair Trade
Fairtrade chocolates for Halloween

Image via Fairtrade America

Sustainability isn’t limited to protecting the environment alone— it also includes social concerns. The majority of bulk confectionery on the market, regrettably, does not support fair labor practices. So if you must go with store-bought treats for unavoidable reasons, as mentioned earlier, be mindful to purchase candy brands that are Fair Trade Certified. Businesses that don’t support Fair Trade, and factories that are not social and environmental compliant may ignore child labor, slavery, or other unethical activities. What a terrifying thought! Buying candies from ethical brands reflect your support for businesses that treat their employees fairly and are mindful of their operations— keep an eye out for the Fairtrade label.

  • Reusable Cloth Bags For Trick or Treaters

Introduce the “cloth bag” switch to your children— send them treat-or-tricking with organic cotton totes. If you don't have any cotton totes, you can fashion one out of old sheets, pillowcases, or even t-shirts. Fair Trade Certified organic cotton bags are not just great ambassadors of sustainability, but also allow optimal candy storage for your little ones!

Mesh Reusable Grocery Bag
  • Sustainable Halloween Costumes

Like candies, costumes are inseparable from the Halloween celebration. Cute little kids (and adults) dressed in exciting characters— comically dreamy! If that is the case, then, what is the problem? The problem lies in the materialmost of the costumes are made of polyester, a material that is, more or less, considered as plastic. And, polyesters are notoriously known for degrading human health, environment, and marine life. You’d be surprised to know how much plastic is thrown away on Halloween (aside from candy wrappers)disposable Halloween costumes generate around 2,000 tonnes of plastic garbage or 83 million bottles of plastic in a year.

So, rather than buying a costume, make one out of items you own— get creative! Jazz up as a TV character who plays a real person on screens. This way, you can wear what already exists in your wardrobe with, of course, inspiration drawn from the character. You can also visit a thrift store in your area, swap costumes with friends from the previous Halloween, or bring out your creativity with what you already own.

In the end, it all boils down to making an effort to save money and cut emissions by avoiding the overboard costume shopping (that you'll most probably wear just one evening). Saving money while also helping the environment? We’d say that is a winning scenario.

  • Putting A Cap On The Infamous Pumpkin Waste
Pumpkin Treats

Image by Sarah Pflug

Halloween without pumpkins isn't Halloween— but you can help reduce CO2 emissions, by picking one that is produced locally. Visiting farmers’ markets and browsing for fresh pumpkins is, any day, far more enjoyable than taking the same old trip to the grocery store. Given the massive pumpkin waste every year, you also want to do more with the pumpkin internals. Use them to make pumpkin pies, soup, or even a delicious curry. And if none of that works for you, there are animals to feed— repurpose the pumpkin leftovers by turning them into a tasty treat for your pets and other surrounding livestock. But before you feed or consume the pumpkins, make sure it’s not decaying, painted, or smeared in candle wax.

Final Thoughts

Single-use items are not sustainable— they destroy new resources to come to life. As you organize your spooky celebration this year, ask yourself if your decisions are green enough to reduce emissions— if your dollars are helping the socio-environmental causes or worsening them. Conscious consumerism is exercising your power as a human for the greater cause, having a greater understanding of the consequences of your purchases— how they affect society and the entire planet. If we all play our part, we can bring about the change that nourishes the present and makes way for a prosperous future.

Don’t shy from exploring all the ways you can make a difference this spooktacular season— the green possibilities are unlimited!

Happy Halloween!