Hello green people and happy spooky Monday to you! With Halloween just around the corner costume and candy purchases have increased to astronomical numbers. We’ve reached the point in the month where entering into any retail location means being bombarded with advertisements to participate in this oh so fun, but slightly wasteful holiday. Of course, I felt myself being swept up in the excitement of this candy utopian inspired holiday as soon as I entered my local grocery store. After getting my candy fix, I joined the checkout line weighted down by my numerous bags of candy and suddenly thought back to a meme I had recently come across that was not only chuckle worthy, but thought provoking; “What’s spookier than a ghost? All the plastic we’ve ever used still being in existence!” Spooky indeed, plastic the material that haunts my dreams and our landfills. With my guilt filled purchase in hand I began to wonder just what could make one of my favorite holidays a little more sustainable? 

According to a report done by CNN, roughly 172 million Americans celebrate Halloween every year, and 69% of them hand out candy. On average most families that participate in this ghoulish celebration spend about $86 dollars on decorations, candy and their costumes totaling out to about $8.8 billion spent in the United Sates. An interesting fact I discovered while researching Halloween is that it is the second largest holiday after Christmas for purchasing decorations and unfortunately most of those decorations are made from non-recyclable plastic material. There are some relatively easy ways to lower the amount of spooky waste associated with All Hallows Eve one way is to reuse or upcycle Halloween costumes from previous years. Create a fun scavenger hunt for the kids and challenge them to create unique and original costumes by checking out local thrift stores… who knows maybe we’ll see some Vampire’s of Energy or Mother Earth’s walking around this year! When you’ve thoroughly enjoyed your costume and no longer need it opt to host a costume swap party or donate it versus tossing it in the trash. 

Get your kids excited about making better environmental choices by breaking out the arts and crafts box to make your own decorations from items that would otherwise be recycled. We often purchase our decorations based on convenience, but I urge you to shop mindfully by selecting items like real local grown pumpkins over the ever-popular plastic ones. Old cardboard boxes make for great DIY tombstones and old panty hose shredded up look eerily similar to spider webs. Now I know sometimes those creative juices just aren’t flowing like you want them to, so when you do purchase decorations look for items that can be reused for many years to come.

Going door to door and proudly showing off your costume in exchange for candy is by far my favorite part of the holiday. I always look forward to the end of the night when I can see my spoils from the night, but the truth is it’s always far more candy than most can eat (without getting a serious tummy ache or cavity). I began to wonder if there was anything that could be done with access candy and found that many organizations take left over unopened candy and use it for future events. You can also opt to not take candy once you get to your desired amount even if you’re in a group that is still collecting. When your belly is full and wrappers are strewn around you, don’t let that belly ache be for nothing, get creative and utilize the wrappers as a part of a future craft project. 

My final tip for the Spooktacular night is to go in groups and opt to walk, carpool or ride your bike as much as you can. The fun of the holiday doesn’t have to disappear just because our use of plastic, food waste and textile waste does. Putting a small twist on the earlier mentioned meme “Whats scarier than a ghost? An informed person who doesn’t make small changes when they can.”  Now let’s get out there and have a very Happy Halloween!

Yours truly,

Shavara J.