For many, Halloween means interacting with the community at large. More than 2,000 years old, Halloween is one of the world’s oldest festivals for commemorating the dead and making the transition into winter. But commercialization has turned this rather simplistic idea into a multibillion dollar business. Next to Christmas, more money is spent at Halloween than on any other holiday, with the U.S. alone spending a whopping $9 billion on candy, costumes and decorations. Think about what this means in terms of waste produced from products, and the weight of carbon footprints. Now that’s frightening! As members of a community, we have the responsibility to ensure the safety of the environment for ourselves and our future.
However, being eco-friendly doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Take a look at these ideas on how to reduce waste and save money this Halloween. From decor to candy, we’ve got tips and tricks for a greener Halloween.
1. Support Local Farmers
The closer the farmer is to you, the smaller the carbon footprint of that vegetable is. Buy an organic pumpkin and you’ll help reduce that figure even more. So, before picking out your Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin from the grocery store this year, visit a local farmer with the family. Make a trip of it! Some will let you go into the field and pick your own pumpkin from the patches, or even offer fun fall activities like hay rides.
And remember, you can use the whole pumpkin. Cook the seeds, or use the insides for a hearty soup, stew or even a pumpkin pie. The vast majority of purchased pumpkins end up in the bin. So ensure to use the whole pumpkin this year and compost the remains. Also, consider growing your own pumpkin for next year.
2. Buy And Give Sustainable Candy
Although more expensive, organic candy is healthier and better for the environment, as they are made from products which don’t contain pesticides or other chemicals. You can find organic candy, in the organics section of many grocery stores, health food stores, and some farmers markets. Look for products with independent certifications such as USDA Organic, NASAA Certified Organic, and Fairtrade.
Organic candy can also be found online on retailer sites like Amazon.com. If choosing to shop online, remember to take advantage of a service you’re already using, and support Tzu Chi at no extra cost with the AmazonSmile program. Whatever candy you buy, remember to take consideration of how the product is packaged. Avoid purchasing products with an abundance of packaging, which will ultimately add to a heavy carbon footprint.
Or, switch up the use of candy with some fruit from local farmers, like making caramel apples or chocolate covered strawberries. It’s a great healthy alternative that still satisfies a sweet-tooth craving, and will simultaneously support your local farmers!
3. Reduce Waste With Costumes
Excess shopping leaves a heavy carbon footprint on the environment. Help reduce this by using old costumes. Don’t let a great costume become a dust collector, only to see the light of day once every 365 days for a few hours! Consider swapping with friends, which means saving money as well. You can even check out a local thrift store for DIY costumes!
If you prefer to keep things original, another option is to rent a costume. Renting a costume may be significantly cheaper to purchasing one outright, and allows you or your kids to dress up differently every year. Instead of purchasing a new costume–which either hangs in your closet forever, or gets tossed into the trash–it’s returned and re-used when rented by others.
4. Decorate With Nature
Halloween is the second largest holiday after Christmas for buying decorations. Most are made from non-recyclable plastic and, as with costumes, end up in landfill. With the cover of darkness and some carefully positioned candles you won’t need any animatronics or plastic pumpkins to create atmospheric decor. Simply turn out the lights (making a saving on electricity in the process) and light some candles to set the mood. You can also take a look in your backyard. Nature can provide some wonderful and free decorations. Take a hike with the family and have everyone pick leaves, sticks and pinecones to decorate the home with!
5. Trick-Or-Treating Tips
Stay away from those molded plastic jack-o-lanterns sold this time of year. Although they are reusable, they are still made of plastic. Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean, which is eaten by fish, birds and other marine life. This year, get creative! Instead of purchasing a new one-time-use loot bag, use a pillow case from home, a reusable shopping bag, or a festive gift bag from past presents. These make great trick-or-treat bag alternatives to store bought options, and will hold more candy than the plastic alternative anyways.
Also, ensure to use and encourage environmentally friendly travel! Organize carpools to reduce the number of people driving to your Halloween party. Or, even better, eliminate the cars all together, and stay in your local community. Opt in for a brisk fall walk with family and friends. You’ll have the opportunity to meet your neighbors and form a closer-knit community.
6. Throwing A Party For Some Ghosts And Ghouls? Make Sure It’s Green!
A Halloween party can easily be an environmentally-friendly celebration with a little planning and thought. Decorate your home with natural lighting, and strategically placed candles. If additional sources of lighting is needed, try putting solar-powered LED lights around your home to provide a spooky atmosphere. Remember to use your own backyard for some free fall decorations, or simply bring out last year’s decorations. Decorations can also be made on your own from around the home with a little creativity. Still need some scary supplies? Visit antique shops!
Invite guests to come dressed in ‘green’ inspired costumes, such as handmade or rented. You can encourage this by giving prizes for the best and worst designs! Also, ensure to serve organic foods, and use dishes and cutlery instead of disposable or plastic dishware.
Join us in support of improving the global ecosystem, and have a spookily sustainable Halloween!