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Pumpkins, parties, and… PLASTIC.

Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season, which is extremely exciting, but let’s face it: Halloween is a disaster for the environment. 

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing better than opening your front-door to “Trick-or-Treat” and seeing the smiles on the neighborhood kids faces as you drop goodies into their bag or having the rare excuse to dress up yourself and have a good time with friends!

The problem is that nearly all Halloween-related products are meant to be single-use or disposable, which creates a lot of waste. This article will go over some simple changes you can do to make for a more sustainable Halloween.

Costumes

It’s estimated that 7 million Halloween costumes are thrown away every year, which works out at around 2.079 million tonnes of brand-new plastics being left to not-really-rot in landfill sites. 

That’s the equivalent of 83 million plastic water bottles!

On top of that, 83% of the materials used to make the 324 Halloween costumes that one company sampled were made of plastic or plastic-based materials, and it’s estimated that 40% of newly-purchased costumes will be worn just once before hitting the bin.

What you can do:

Thrift: Oftentimes, thrift stores have a lot of clothing that they bring out specifically for Halloween so it can be really easy to find costumes and it tends to be much cheaper than buying a premade costume. It is also far more sustainable as the clothing is being reused. 

Rent: There are also costume rental services so that you can get the exact costume you want without having to buy it once and throw it away or give it away.

DIY: You can also make your own costumes. These often use things like cardboard, which is something many of us have a lot of. This is a great way to reuse materials, and spend less on your costume this halloween!

Treats

Candy is big business at this time of year. The National Retail Federation estimated that $2.6 billion was spent on candy for Halloween in 2019. Unfortunately, most of this candy is packaged individually and combines plastic and aluminum, which means it’s almost impossible to recycle.

Both the metal and plastic recycling processes generally require waste to be clean and of a single type (e.g. just PET plastic). Mixed-material packaging, such as that found on candy, is not worth separating—both in terms of cost and energy. So, even if a wrapper is added to your curbside recycling, it will most likely make its way to a landfill in the end.

What you can do: 

Choose paper packaging: Choose candy to hand out that has paper or cardboard packaging (like nerds, boxed junior mints, etc.). Avoiding individually wrapped candies is another small thing that can make a big difference in reducing plastic waste. 

Make your own: While making your own treats to hand out on Halloween certainly produces the least waste, this may not be feasible for trick-or-treaters. However, if you’re getting treats to hand out to close friends and family, make your own treats like cookies or even homemade candy!

Fruit: I know, I know. You don’t want to be “that house” that hands out lame treats, but hey, at least their parents will thank you 🙂 Apples or bananas are a great healthy Halloween snack option.

Decorations

Store-bought decorations are often made with non-recyclable plastic and covered in toxic paint or synthetic fabrics. 

There’s no need for frivolous spending and waste when it comes to decorating for Halloween!

What you can do: 

Keep it simple: Decorations aren’t super necessary for halloween, and often are used once and then thrown away. Instead of fake spider webs and plastic spiders, stick to the classics and simply put a carved pumpkin on the front porch!

Rent: Just like Halloween costumes there are plenty of places to rent decorations. A simple google should do the trick! Try searching “decoration and decor rental” and you’re sure to find many places near you.

DIY: There are some great DIY ideas that you can use to upcycle things that are already lying around your house, allowing you to keep your environmental impact to a minimum. You can keep it classic with bed sheet ghosts or get creative with yarn spider-webs or egg carton bats!

We hope these tips helped. Let us know what sustainable Halloween swaps you plan on making this year! Do it up right and you might even inspire your neighbors to do the same. Happy Halloween!

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