Halloween is one of the cutest holidays ever. Newborns in little skeleton onesies. Toddlers in one-piece animal suits. Kiddos emanating childhood dreams through costumes. And for me, this holiday is one of my faves: chocolate bonanzas, carving pumpkins, Ghostbusters on TV on repeat, Hallmark Channel movie sets at fall fairs and corn fields.
But let’s creep it real! You know what’s not cute? The waste holidays in Canada create is astounding. It’s down right scary, no pun intended. We’re spending $1 billion on this holiday. It’s frightening how much plastic we generate for special occasions. Let’s all be batty about protecting the planet for future trick-or-treaters.
There are three really small steps we can do to turn this Hallow’s Eve from ghoulish to green:
- Buy or borrow used costumes. This is so easy with so many consignment and thrift shops around. Ask relatives if they have any hand-me-down costumes for your kid. Post on social media or community-based groups to borrow some. There’s even some school newsletters where you can request to swap. If it doesn’t exist, make it happen! See what’s in your closet. Just say no to new.
- Avoid plastic decorations. I want you to think about this: what happens to all those plastic bats or tombstones once you’re done with them? What do you do with a giant, inflatable, PVC-based black cat on the lawn once it gets punctured? It’s not only a waste of resources, but of energy every time you plug it in. It takes 1000+ years for plastic to decompose. Inevitably, it’ll sit for hundreds of years in landfill. Instead here are some sustainable ways to decorate, or natural ways that ultimately can be composted in your municipal bin or backyard:
- use real pumpkins, gourds and squashes to spice up your front steps.
- flank doorways and handrails with cornhusks and stalks.
- reuse the base of your grapevine wreath for multiple holidays.
- hang spooky ghosts from trees by repurposing old, thrift-find white sheets. Green Child Magazine shows you how to get the youngins involved.
- get inspired by this Pinterest search.
- Pass out low-waste and/or ethical chocolates. In Canada, we spend almost $550 million on candy alone for this holiday. And the wrappers are not recyclable, making this a wasteful ritual. Here’s the problem: the chocolate giants you know can afford to sell their bars for just a couple of dollars to you because, well, cocoa farmers are paid just a couple of pennies. Farmers are living on about less than $1 a day. The industry makes it so the farmers are underpaid and exploited. To make matters more bitter, it’s been discovered that child labour is even at play, yes, still today, and by the biggest names. Instead consider a few sweeter alternatives:
- Buy fair trade chocolates only, and consider getting organic ones. Me personally, I’m cocoa about Camino chocolate.* They do it up right: fair trade, organic, creamy, yummy and they are co-operatively owned.
- If this seems too pricey for the dozens and dozens of kids you get at your door, consider buying public swim or skate passes from your local community centres, or a low-waste craft good like Crayons in a cardboard box. This is becoming a cool trend.
Need to take it one step at a time this year? No problem! Start with this idea to steer you into buying low- and no-waste treats:
- Opt for goodies that are wrapped in foil, cardboard or aluminum (think gold coins, Smarties, cans of pop).
- Buy these candies in bulk versus picking up multi-packs that are wrapped in plastic.
If you do already have your sweets bought up, please consider a Terra Cycle neighbourhood collection of chip, candy and chocolate wrappers. This company is a leader in recycling the materials that are normally hard-to-recycle.
Let’s keep our holidays down to the skeletal minimum. Did you see what I did there? Pretty humerus, huh? [ba dam tsssh!] Seriously, keeping this holiday pretty low-waste is eerily easy, it’ll make you think, “why was I wasting so much before?” Like always, keeping things easy on the planet, easy to do and easy on your budget is how I roll… like a head… chopped from the Headless Horseman. Ok, ok! I’m done with the puns. Happy Halloween.
*I only link to products I use or love. I do not receive any compensation.