With Halloween close approaching, it’s time to put up the spectacularly spooky decorations, finish carving the pumpkins, and pick out a costume. This especially applies to households with little ones that will get ready to spend the eve of October 31st darting about from door to door filling their bags to the brim with sugar-filled candy.
Although this holiday is enjoyable for the old and young alike, it is also one of the most environmentally detriment holidays of the year. This stems from all of the trash that accumulates from candy wrappers, the chemicals in that candy, and especially the store-bought costumes made of materials like plastic. It’s so simple to make a few creative changes that keep the fun without harming the planet as much, and some of them have been included in this article.
Instead of buying decorations at a store, why not use items around the house and get the kids involved? This isn’t just a fun experience for the family, but it recycles items. Use egg cartons to make bats. Make a spooky scarecrow (or a nice, friendly one) with old clothes, a hat, and a pumpkin for the head. Create a spider using simple construction paper, a toilet tissue roll for the body, and paint. Use the paint to make a hand print, which is what the legs of the spider will be. Be creative!
If you’re not a craft-minded person, decorate with natural things like pumpkins, gourds, bales of hay, and corn stalks. This look is not only better for the environment, but it is appropriate for the entire fall season, so it can be kept up through November too. Then, these items can be used later on for other purposes, like composting.
Candy! This is what so many little kids look forward to every year during this holiday. The problem is, most of the candy that is consumed is not only full of processed sugar, white flour, and chemicals, but it also comes with a lot of trash. Try to find an alternative by going to a local health store and picking up a bundle of organic lollipops or chocolate. Some of this candy is packaged with more paper than plastic, which is also ideal.
If this isn’t an option, make something to hand out to the kids like homemade cookies or serve apple cider to the neighborhood. Obviously some people will be hesitant to give their kids candy that isn’t individually wrapped, but if you are friendly with your neighbors or even if you’re not, you could explain to them that you are trying to do something that is healthier. Also, something like fruit, especially packs of sweet raisins, or granola bars are healthy alternatives that still have a sweet taste without all of the sugar.
Trick-or-Treating is one of the main parts of Halloween. Many kids carry around plastic buckets shaped like pumpkins or witches, or simply use plastic bags. Instead of using a plastic container, get a tote bag that can be used for years to come. It’s not only better for the environment but also will be easier to carry and there is no way for the bag to rip. There is also a lesser chance of a spill because of the design. Many tote bags come in cute designs that won’t go out of style for the next year. Other options are a reusable shopping bag, or something that has been used previously and is still in good condition.
For lighting, many people use flashlights that use up a lot of battery life. Instead of getting a traditional flashlight, use something that will save energy. Lights outside can be LEDs or the lights in pumpkins can be candles made out of natural materials like beeswax or soy.
Many people choose to go outside of their neighborhoods for Halloween festivities. This can include a lot of driving, especially if they are trick-or-treating in a neighborhood where the houses aren’t close together. Find a well-lit area where the kids and adults can walk together from house to house. If people are spread out all over the city, agree to come together at one person’s house and have a Halloween party. Have activities to do together even if it’s just watching a Halloween movie and enjoying each others company. What’s more fun than that?
Store-bought costumes are often made out of plastic or similar materials and are often really uncomfortable. Get out some scissors and make your own costume! This isn’t only better for the environment but it can also be really fun! You don’t have to be a plain old ghost just because you made your costume! Dress it up by being a scarecrow or a hippy by combining old clothes and adding some makeup. Use your own ideas and the items around you. You are sure to come up with something magnificent!
Overall, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 36 million children went trick-or-treating for Halloween in 2009. That can accumulate to billions of pounds of trash, wasted food, and materials from costumes. Don’t contribute to the numbers by doing your part to help the environment this Halloween, and don’t forget to be creative!