It’s Halloween! Gaggles of trick-or-treating kids in shiny costumes will soon roam our streets. We will stock up on wrapped candies and decorate our doorsteps with carved pumpkins and scary props. These traditions are loads of fun, but create a scary amount of waste. In the US for example, 33 million pounds of costume waste will be sent to landfill this year alone.

Breaking traditions and reinventing habits can be challenging, and truth be told, the only zero-waste Halloween is one that isn’t celebrated. Since that isn’t any fun, instead of opting out of Halloween, we’re opting for a less wasteful Halloween.

Trick-or-Treating

Providing zero-waste treats asks for more thoughtful purchasing because, for valid safety reasons, Health Canada recommends that we either refuse or throw out anything that is homemade or that isn’t commercially wrapped. That means that our great zero-waste idea of buying candy in bulk and putting them into small paper bags is thrown out the window. Our treats would probably end up in the garbage.

Thankfully, we do have a few sustainable options for our trick or treaters. Opting for candies that are packaged in boxes (Smarties, Dots, Nerds, Reese’s Pieces, Junior Mints, etc.) or those wrapped in foil (Hershey’s Kisses, Chocolate Coins, Chocolate pumpkins, etc.) make it possible to tap into the fourth R, and recycle our packaging.

The second R, reduce, shouldn’t be overlooked either. After all, you are in control of the amount of candies you give out. Pace yourself! Reduce waste by simply giving out less.

Costumes and Decorations

Zero-waste costumes and decorations are a little easier to approach than treats, and are the time for our creativity to shine while tuning into the first and second Rs, which are to refuse and reuse.

Wearing what we already have or borrowing from others is the ideal way to dress up, but if we’re short on options, buying second-hand is another way to consciously approach Halloween costumes. Whether it be from second-hand, thrift or vintage shops, this kind of purchasing will get our creative juices flowing and give a second life to our clothes.

We might have purchased plastic or synthetic decorations in the past, but reducing our waste doesn’t mean we throw those away! Using the second R, we will be reusing our old decorations.

If we don’t have decorations already, opting for real pumpkins, or using leaves, twigs and grasses are easy, inexpensive and less wasteful ways to decorate. Using compostable items to decorate means that after the 31st we can take our pumpkins to use in our kitchen, or let them rot in the compost with the rest.

Let’s all do our part and put a sustainable twist on traditions!

For other zero-waste ideas, check out these blogs:

What About Halloween, Bea Johnson. https://zerowastehome.com/2010/10/what-about-halloween/.

Go Ghoulishly Green,  Leigh. https://existgreen.com/eco-friendly-halloween/.

Zero Waste Holiday: Tips for a Green Halloween, Catherine. http://www.thedosomethingproject.com/home/zero-waste-green-halloween.

 

Julie Lopez

 

Sources:

Halloween Food Safety, Health Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/seasonal-food-safety/halloween-food-safety.html