Festive season is just around the corner with Halloween just a couple of weeks away, and it’s fair to say that when thinking about Halloween you don’t immediately think about it as a “zero-waste holiday”. In fact, holidays and special occasions are always an excuse to overindulge, so much so that the Environmental Protection Agency in the US has actually reported that household waste rises more than 25% between Halloween and New Year’s Day. Here are a few suggestions on how to celebrate without creating to much scary waste for our planet.
Less is always best, so we suggest keeping house decorations to a minimal.
How about just one or two pumpkins placed on your porch or in your home? Carve them out, save the seeds for roasting, and the guts for delicious recipes such as pumpkin bread, and once Halloween is over simply compost them or find a local farm or zoo that will accept them as juicy treats for animals to enjoy.
Nevertheless, if a couple of carved pumpkins is way too minimal of a celebration for you, than opt for upcycling and recycling things you already have. For example, an old milk container can be turned into a spooky ghost, a cardboard boxes can be turned into tombstones, or packaging materials such as egg containers, can become bats, or some other spooky creatures.
If Halloween is a really big deal for you and you have the space to store decorations once the night is over, invest in durable, quality products that can be used over and over for years to come.
Of course buying a new costume every year to wear for just one day isn't great for the environment, but luckily there are many different waste-free options as far as costumes are concerned!
First of all you can make your own using materials you already have lying around the house, you can host a swap party with your friends and neighbors in the weekends leading up to Halloween, or you could rent one out.
If your only option is purchasing a costume, visit a second-hand shop or search online. If you really want to buy a new costume again invest in longevity by purchasing high-quality materials. Avoid cheap plastic fabrics which could fray and shed micro plastics, avoid spending money on accessories that will break easily or get lost, and avoid anything with glitter or sparkles.
Make sure you choose something that you or other will be able to make the most of in the following years, or that you can use throughout the year, for example fun animal onesies which can then be used around the house all year round!
Trick or treat
Trick or treating is by all means the most important part of Halloween…at least for children, so how do we make that part of the holiday lest wasteful?
Start by choosing candy and chocolates that are wrapped in more sustainable options such as cardboard boxes, paper-packaging, or foil-packaging, and buy in bulk. Of course not everyone is going to recycle all those candy wraps properly so there might be some waste at the final destination, but whatever happens those materials are still going to be less wasteful and impactful than plastic packaging.
Also remember that there is no rule saying that you only have to give out sugary filled snacks, so why not give out useful items such as Halloween-themed pencils, erasers, bookmarks, seed packets, or even cute mini pumpkins!
As far as containers are concerned, if you don’t want to invest in durable trick or treat containers that you can put away and store until next year, use a pillow case or a cotton muslin bag you can customize and reuse over and over!
If you are planning to host a Halloween party, read this article for more ideas on how to cut down on waste: Limit waste at BBQ's and backyard parties