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Stream and mountains

Sustainability on Halloween

Emma Frank

I am a huge fan of Halloween, the decorations, the chance to dress up, the month-long build-up of watching campy horror movies. But here’s the thing about Halloween – for the most part, the actual celebration takes place on a one-day period. As soon as the clock strikes midnight, your face full of glitter gets washed down the drain, the cheap Amazon costume retires to the back of the closest and most likely the bins will be filled with candy wrappers within a few days. In a week, it’s like it never happened, but of course, you can do it all again when next October comes around. This brings up a huge issue: Sustainability on Halloween.

Halloween can be an incredibly wasteful holiday. It is heavily focused on consumption: the masses of candy you buy and eat, preparing elaborate costumes down to every accessory and decorating your house in the best decorations to one up your neighbours. In the UK in 2019, Halloween costumes were estimated to make up about 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

So, here are some sustainability tips for this holiday:

1. Costumes: own it or op-shop it

I know it’s tempting to buy a costume for cheap from Amazon or from a dollar store, but at the end of the day, you likely will never wear it again. There are additional problems with these purchases, e.g., unethical and sweat shop production, as well as these costumes often being uncomfortable due to the cheap plasticky materials and vague sizings. It is much more sustainable to compose a costume through looking through the pieces you already have in your wardrobe. If you don’t have something? Check out your local Vinnies! In most cases you can get away with a costume that is almost all your own clothes, combined with a few dollar store accessories to Halloween-ify the look. Also, it’s Australia, no one will care about a makeshift costume.

2. Trick or treaters don’t eat that much!

Every year my dad HUGELY overestimates the stomach capacity of trick or treaters, but also how many trick or treaters there will be. Maybe he just wants to eat the leftovers, but when you are buying 4-5 bags of Favourites you must draw the line. Less people are trick or treating now days: people are afraid of COVID and Halloween is not as big here as it is in America. I would suggest cutting back a bag or two to see the difference, aim for 1-2 bags of candy. And, hey, maybe in a less COVIDy year you could make a huge batch of brownies instead (as long as you tell the kids what’s in it, PLEASE don’t give a 6-year-old zombie child an allergic reaction).

3. Basket/bucket > plastic bag

If you still trick or treat (no judgement) or have younger siblings you send out to do so, swap out their bag to something reusable. It’s easy to pick out a plastic bag, but that’s going to take 1000 years or so to biodegrade. Instead, try a basket, bucket or bowl, something not too heavy, that is reusable or re-washable.

4. Focus on non-plastic decorations

Instead of buying those plastic pumpkin lights from Kmart/the dollar store, why not just buy a pumpkin? You can put little pumpkins around your house, carve fun faces into them and make them jack-o’-lanterns. Then when they get old you can use them in the compost. If you’re feeling creative you can also DIY your decorations, for example, you can make Halloween themed bunting out of paper to minimise plastic consumption. But, above all, don’t buy Halloween decorations if you plan on only using them once! You should like your purchases enough that you’d reuse them every year.

That’s all for today. Wishing you all a safe, happy, and sustainable Halloween.


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