Strive for a Zero-Waste Halloween: 3 Simple Eco-friendly Tips for a More Sustainable Halloween by Stephanie Miller
With Halloween just around the corner, you may be wondering whether it’s too late to make it a sustainable one. The answer: it’s not too late! Here are three tips that can get you on track for a Halloween that lets you maximize the fun while minimizing the waste:
1. Have a Plan for Your Pumpkin
One of the biggest environmental issues surrounding the holidays is all the food waste generated in their wake. For Halloween, the biggest food waste problem is the pumpkins. In the U.S. alone, over one billion pounds of pumpkins per year end up in landfills around Halloween. Why is this a problem?
Photo: Cason Asher
Food waste in landfills is one of the biggest sources of methane emissions, and methane is a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide. Earlier this month, the U.S., Canada, the European Union and others signed the Global Methane Pledge to slash global methane emissions by 2030 to urgently address the climate crisis.
As individuals, we have a role to play, too. When you buy your pumpkins or other holiday gourds this year, make a plan for where they will end up when you’re done with them. Whether you make pumpkin pie or roast the seeds, try to ensure the remains of the pumpkin make their way to a compost pile. If you don’t have a backyard compost system – most Americans do not – then here are some other ways to dispose of your pumpkins:
- Search online for “composting near me.”
- Look up Litterless.com or try ShareWaste. The latter is like a dating app for composting. It matches composters with those needing to get rid of their compostable food scraps.
2. Make It a Low-waste Gathering
If you are planning a get-together with kids or adults to share some of the Halloween fun, there are lots of ways to minimize disposables and hence minimize waste. Consider using your own plates, silverware, cups and napkins. You will end up with a bit more cleanup after the party but the little extra time you spend will feel great compared to dealing with several extra bags of trash after the party. I also find that friends often help with cleanup and this can be part of the post-party fun.
Photo: Stephanie Miller
If this seems like too much work, try just using, say, your own plates and silverware, and get paper cups and paper napkins. Something is better than nothing. Less waste is less waste.
If you are attending someone else’s party, offer to bring something that’s reusable, like cloth napkins that you’ll take home and wash after the party. Your hosts might appreciate this just as much as your homemade Halloween treats and, who knows, this might open their minds to having future zero-waste gatherings.
3. Give Out More Sustainable Treats
It’s tough to avoid the Halloween candy wrapped in plastic packaging. Here are a few ideas that could help:
- Look for candy in more sustainable packaging. It’s not hard to find Junior Mints, Milk Duds, Whoppers and other candy packaged in cardboard boxes – they are usually in the candy aisle, not the Halloween aisle of your local store. The larger sizes are expensive for trick-or-treat purposes. In our case, every year we get fewer than ten trick-or-treaters, so buying 10 boxes of candy costs less than many of the Halloween bags of smaller-packaged treats. Even if you buy the Halloween size Milk Duds, you might be able to find the individual mini portions packaged in cardboard instead of plastic, though the Halloween bags that hold the mini treats will always be plastic. Again, the less plastic waste, the better.
Photo: Stephanie Miller
- Indulge the neighborhood kids you know with homemade treats in sustainable packaging. While many parents won’t be comfortable with non-commercially packaged treats from families they don’t know, parents who are your friends should be happy with homemade treats. These can include: homemade sugar cookies in the shape of pumpkins or goblins, candied apples or a variety of candy purchased in bulk. You can use paper bags or wax paper sandwich bags for these goodies and decorate the bags with Halloween images.
Let the low-waste fun begin!
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