Halloween is the second largest consumer driven holiday of the year, yet the scariest component of the holiday is the bite it takes out of the environment. Currently, the candy market consumes nearly as many resources as the meat industry, due to the use of milk in chocolates. In addition to the carbon footprint left behind by mass candy production and companies pumping out costumes and plastic pumpkins, Halloween has a significantly adverse effect on trash streams and landfills.
Greening Halloween on a national scale has been slow in comparison to efforts to improve other holidays, such as Christmas. To take part in these efforts on a large scale, check out GreenHalloween.org. The site offers volunteer opportunities and action kits to help your neighborhood go green for Halloween. For those who cannot resist the tradition of trick or treating be sure to log on to Terracycle and join their Candy Wrapper Brigade. TerraCycle accepts individual wrappers, large bags and multi-pack bags. Earn points for Earth friendly products and donate to charity all at the same time.
Even though Hallow’s Eve quickly approaches, it isn’t too late to take an active part in reducing your scary footprints during this year’s festivities. Encouraging green practices and spreading the word in your neighborhood could be the best treat of the season.
Tips for an EEK-o-friendly Halloween:
• Create your own unique costume. Child or adult, costumes are expensive and disposable. By using materials from home or other reusable items, your costume is sure to be one of a kind and eco-friendly. If you are at a loss for ideas, check out do- it-yourself blogs for simple costumes or get really into the spirit with video-tutorials on special effects make-up. Just be sure to research alternatives to toxic make-up and adhesives before getting started.
• Donate store bought costumes to thrift stores, costume shops, play houses, or drama clubs. Many times, these organizations thrive on donations.
• Use green shopping bags or create your own treat bags out of old pillowcases instead of buying any.
• Save and reuse your candy wrappers for art projects or crafts. Earth911.com has a small list of ten projects to put those wrappers to use instead of sending them to the landfill.
• Decorate using natural elements that can be saved for reuse, returned to nature, or composted after the holidays. Use gourds, squash, pumpkins, fall leaves or garden/wild flowers. Plant bright orange mums in your garden or make your own wreath from branches lying around in the yard. Disposable decorations account for a large amount of Holiday waste. If you have commercial décor, be sure to store it for reuse, or donate it to a local play house, thrift store, or other charity.
• Compost jack-o-lanterns and un-carved pumpkins or gourds along with leaves or flowers used in decorating.
• Remember to keep seeds for roasting or throw them out for wildlife in your backyard. Unfortunately, most pumpkins sold for carving lack the taste and texture suitable for eating, so for an extra green advantage, try to buy organic food pumpkins and paint them instead of carving, then they can be eaten.
• To encourage others to join the green initiative, staple small eco tips to the treats that you hand out. Inform others in your area about the environmental cost of Halloween or offer them simple green tips for daily living. Use ideas from GreenHalloween.com action kits or check out Reverse Trick or Treat hosted by the Global Exchange.
• If hosting a party, try to use non-disposable tableware. If disposable is the only option, sign up for TerraCycle’s Solo Cup Brigade so that they can be recycled. Most plastic disposables will be accepted through local curbside recycling programs.
More than ever, national holidays are contributing to environmental and social detriment through unfair trade practices, overconsumption and increased waste. It is imperative that daily eco-conscious living is carried over into holiday practices. Don’t buy into the ever-growing commercialism of the season. Instead, challenge yourself to be as green as possible and focus on deep rooted traditions. Simply researching the basis of traditions can provide an outlook that is sure to be more Earth friendly than the modern day equivalent.