Between candy, costumes and decorations, Halloween is a multi-billion dollar industry. With all that retail consumption comes a substantial carbon footprint and environmental impact, especially when looking at the issue of consumer waste. One-time-use Halloween decorations, costumes and candy wrappers form a veritable ocean of trash after the holiday. This waste spills from over-capacity landfills and ends up in our waterways, polluting the oceans with toxic chemicals and harming wildlife. Plus, these non-biodegradable plastics will never disappear.
With a little creativity and dedication to greener choices, Halloween can be a fun and festive celebration for the eco-conscious. Crafting, which encourages people to reuse, recycle and repurpose material, is a great tool for a greener Halloween. Here are some ways to celebrate a greener Halloween this year.
Skip the bags of over-packaged, highly processed candies and make your own sweets to enjoy or hand out on Halloween (to kids with parents you know). Make chocolate bark, candied apples, or even make your own vegan candy corn. Present the sweet treats in biodegradable paper or cellophane bags. Alternatively, you can give out non-candy treats such as fruit leather or pretty pencils.
If you are more comfortable with purchasing your Halloween candy, look for organic candy choices with environmentally-responsible packaging. Here is a great Eco-Fab Guide to Halloween Candy.
The on-going production of plastic bags and pumpkin-shaped candy carriers is bad for the environment, and the majority will end up in the landfill. While over 500 billion single-use plastic bags are consumed each year, less than 1% are recycled. Give kids a reusable cloth shopping bag made from hemp, organic cotton or canvas. Alternatively, you cam make a loot bag using secondhand fabric and a craft project like this Bandanna Trick or Treat Bag.
Instead of purchasing a cheap Halloween costume, consider making your own Halloween costume or renting a costume for the night. Make a pair of horns from clay, yarn or fabric. Check out these 41 Last Minute Halloween Costumes for more ideas.
Craft your own pumpkins using materials you already have. Turn metal coffee cans into Jack-O-Lantern Luminaries. Get out your crochet hooks and eco-friendly yarn and make one of these 6 Crochet Pumpkin Patterns.
Purchase an organic, pesticide free pumpkin from a local farmer and skip the disposable, plastic-handled carving tools. When carving the pumpkin, save the meat for use in cooking (I love a good Pumpkin Curry) and roast the pumpkin seeds for a healthy, delicious snack. Light your pumpkin with a soy or beeswax candle, instead of a petroleum-derived paraffin wax candle. After Halloween, compost the pumpkin.
Most retail Halloween decorations are made from plastic or foam, both of which are derived from petroleum and very difficult to recycle. Instead of purchasing new decorations, make homemade Halloween decorations from materials already in your possession, shop secondhand/thrift stores for materials or purchase eco-friendly craft materials. Instead of purchasing disposable spider webs to decorate the home, make your own DIY Spider Webs from braided fabric. Here are 10 Eco-Friendly Halloween Crafts to get you started with ideas.