Halloween is easily one of my favourite holidays. It really is the spookiest time of year. But maybe not for the reasons you think. Between Halloween and New Year, it’s estimated that waste production goes up by 25%. That’s about 1 million extra tons per week with 3.3 million pounds of landfill waste on November 1st alone! Isn’t that crazy??
Waste and single-use Halloween items are the real monsters hiding under the bed. But I promise you, you can still have a really great Halloween while also being gentle on sweet mother earth.
Low waste Halloween tips:
3.4 billion dollars a year are spent on new costumes. Brand new costumes. That means that last years 3.4 billion dollars of costumes are most likely not being reused and probably ended up in a landfill.
These costumes are cheap and poorly made with things like plastic, polyester, and toxic dyes. These things are harmful to you and to the planet. And they ere most likely produced unethically, aka in a sweatshop.
Here are some ideas for more sustainable Halloween costumes:
- Thrift your costume – This is a great way to give the planet a break. And there are many costumes and characters you could dress up as that require solid pieces of clothing you could wear again!
- Shop your closet – Especially if you’re dressing up as real people, it’s really easy to pull pieces from your closet already!
- Borrow – Whether it’s an article of clothing to complete your costume or an entire costume, see what your friends and family have in their closets! And borrow your previous years costumes out as well!
- Rent – You could always rent a costume! This is an amazing idea that not a lot of people think about.
Most Halloween decor is made similarly to Halloween costumes. Cheaply, poor materials and unethically. But they may even be slightly worse as they’re often much smaller than a full costume and much cheaper and therefore disposable.
While it may be tempting to fill your house with dollar store decorations each year, I urge you to think twice.
Here are some more sustainable options:
- Use nature to decorate -use things like pumpkins, leaves, acorns, and pinecones to decorate your house. You can carve the pumpkins, use fall-coloured flowers, etc.
- Buy decorations and use them every year – the biggest problem with store-bought decorations is that they’re often a trend and disposed of yearly. If you have store-bought decor, just use it every year!
- Make decorations with more sustainable materials – Make bat cutouts from cardboard, ghosts from scrap fabric, pumpkins from wool and so on.
Scrap fabric ghosts:
What you need:
- White fabric
- Cotton balls or more scrap fabric
- Start by cutting your white fabric into squares
- Place your cotton ball or extra scrap fabric filled into a ball into the center of the squares
- Gather the fabric around the ball and tie it with a small piece of twine
- Use a long piece of twine to tie your ghosts into a garland and string them up!
What you need:
- 100% wool yarn in fall colours
- A sock
- Some small twigs
- Start by wrapping the yarn around 3 fingers at least 10 times
- Slip your fingers out and wrap the yarn around 10 times the other way
- continue wrapping the yarn around itself in alternating directions until a ball forms. (this can be as big or small as you want)
- Tuck the end of the yarn deep inside of the ball and slip it into a sock
- Tie of the sock and throw it in your washing machine and dryer a few times
- The ball will shrink a little but they will become “felted”
- Stick a tiny twig on the top to achieve your pumpkin look!
- When the season is over you can use them as dryer balls!
Candy can be really tricky when you love to hand out candy every year. I won’t suggest that you make your own to avoid packaging because I highly doubt any parent would let their kid eat unwrapped candy from a stranger.
So I’ll suggest two things instead. First, try to buy fair trade candy/chocolate if you can. I know it can be more expensive so this may not be an option for most people. The other thing I would suggest is to try to get candy/chocolate in paper or cardboard packaging like smarties. (If you’re Canadian) Foil is also recyclable (if balled into a big ball) so options like Hershey’s kisses are also great too!
I know I said pumpkins make great decor and they do! But we have to be careful how we dispose of them at the end of the season. 1.3 BILLION pumpkins go to landfills every year. And it’s common to assume that because they’re food, they’ll break down. but this isn’t true and another reason why food waste is such a huge problem. There is not enough air in alndfills to properly break down food, especially something as big as a pumpkin. Instead, they sit and rot and contribute to air pollution.
Here are some things you can do instead:
- Compost them
- Give them to a local farm/animal sanctuary
- Cut them up into chunks for wildlife
Reducing your waste doesn’t have to mean a boring Holiday. You can still have a low waste Halloween that’s spooky and fun!
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