Thursday, October 5, 2023

The Truth Behind Halloween - How to Trick or Treat the Eco Friendly Way

Read all the way through to find out the secrets they don't tell you about Halloween.

Halloween is a fun and festive time of the year, but it also comes with a hidden cost: the environmental impact of candy and other Halloween-related products. In this blog post, we'll explore how Halloween candy affects the planet, what are some of the other environmental issues associated with the Halloween festival, and what are solutions for reducing Halloween waste and making it more sustainable.

How Halloween Candy Affects the Planet

Halloween candy is one of the most popular treats for children and adults alike, but it also generates a lot of waste and pollution. According to a report by the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $2.2 billion on candy in 2021, and are expected to spend $2.4 billion in 20231. That’s a lot of candy wrappers that end up in landfills or littering the environment.

Most candy wrappers are made of plastic or aluminum, which are not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose. Plastic wrappers can also leach toxic chemicals into the soil and water, harming wildlife and human health. Aluminum wrappers can be recycled, but only if they are collected and sorted properly, which is not always the case.

Moreover, the production of candy also has a negative impact on the environment. Many of the ingredients used in candy, such as sugar, palm oil, and cocoa, are grown in tropical regions that have been deforested for agricultural purposes. Deforestation contributes to climate change by releasing greenhouse gases and reducing the capacity of forests to absorb carbon dioxide. It also destroys habitats for many endangered species and indigenous communities.

Sugar production is also linked to water pollution, soil erosion, pesticide use, and human rights violations. Palm oil production is responsible for about 10% of global deforestation and threatens the survival of orangutans, tigers, elephants, and rhinos7. Cocoa production is often associated with child labor, poverty, and deforestation in West Africa3.

What are some other environmental issues associated with the Halloween festival?

Halloween candy is not the only source of environmental problems during this time of the year. There are also other aspects of the Halloween festival that can have a negative impact on the planet, such as:

As this article by the Gaunlet points out, we can't recycle our way out of the scary environmental consequences that arise from Halloween (see what I did there?). First of all, recycling simply doesn't work. On the off chance that the things we put in the recycling bin even make it there, odds are it can't be recycled or it can only be recycled a few times before going to the landfill. Now I mentioned materials like aluminum, which are perfect for recycling, but we just can't rely too much on this because we ultimately have to work on reducing the amount of waste we create (think about the GHG emissions from transporting the trash).

What are some solutions for reducing Halloween waste and making it more sustainable?

The good news is that there are many ways to reduce Halloween waste and make it more sustainable without compromising on the fun and festivity. Here are some tips for having an eco-friendly Halloween:

  • Use eco-friendly bags for trick-or-treating: Instead of using plastic bags or buckets that are not recyclable or reusable, use eco-friendly alternatives such as brown paper bags, pillowcases, tote bags, backpacks, drawstring bags, or old handbags. You can also decorate them with your own designs or stickers.
  • Reduce costume waste: Instead of buying new costumes that are expensive and wasteful, try to reuse, repurpose, or swap costumes with your friends or family. You can also shop at thrift stores or make your own costumes from old clothes or materials that you have at home. You can also donate or sell your costumes after Halloween instead of throwing them away.
  • Hand out plastic-free treats if possible: Instead of giving out candy that is wrapped in plastic or aluminum, try to give out treats that are plastic-free or have minimal packaging. Some examples are bulk candy, crayons, Hershey kisses, canned soda, mint tins, or homemade snacks. You can also use cloth goodie bags or cardboard treat boxes to hand out your treats.
  • Recycle candy wrappers if possible: If you do end up with candy wrappers, try to recycle them if you can. Some recycling programs accept candy wrappers, such as TerraCycle’s Candy and Snack Wrapper Zero Waste Box8. You can also reuse candy wrappers for crafts or other purposes.
  • Go for natural decorations: Instead of buying plastic or synthetic decorations that are not biodegradable or recyclable, go for natural decorations that are eco-friendly and compostable. Some examples are dried leaves, pine cones, corn husks, twigs, flowers, or fruits. You can also use candles, lanterns, or solar-powered lights instead of electric lights.
  • Compost your pumpkins: Instead of throwing away your pumpkins after Halloween, compost them in your backyard or at a local compost facility. Composting your pumpkins will reduce methane emissions and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. You can also eat your pumpkins or donate them to a local animal sanctuary if they are edible.

How to Celebrate Halloween in an Eco-Friendly

If you are looking for some ideas on how to celebrate Halloween in an eco-friendly way, here are some suggestions that you can try:

  • Host a green Halloween party: If you are planning to host a Halloween party, you can make it green by using reusable or compostable plates, cups, cutlery, and napkins. You can also serve organic, local, or vegetarian food and drinks. You can also encourage your guests to bring their own containers for leftovers or treats. You can also have some fun activities that are eco-friendly, such as making your own costumes or decorations from recycled materials, playing games that do not require electricity, or watching a scary movie on a projector powered by solar panels.
  • Go for a nature walk or hike: Instead of driving around the neighborhood for trick-or-treating, you can go for a nature walk or hike with your friends or family. You can enjoy the beauty of nature and learn about the local flora and fauna. You can also collect some natural materials for your decorations or crafts. You can also bring some treats that are plastic-free or homemade to share with others.
  • Volunteer for an environmental cause: Another way to celebrate Halloween in an eco-friendly way is to volunteer for an environmental cause that you care about. You can join a local organization that is working on issues such as climate change, wildlife conservation, waste management, or environmental justice. You can help with tasks such as planting trees, cleaning up parks or beaches, educating others, or fundraising. You can also wear your Halloween costume while volunteering to make it more fun and festive.

Why Halloween is Important for the Environment

You might be wondering why Halloween is important for the environment and why we should care about making it more sustainable. Here are some reasons why Halloween is important for the environment:

  • Halloween is a cultural tradition that celebrates life and death: Halloween is a cultural tradition that dates back to ancient times, when people believed that the spirits of the dead returned to visit the living on the night of October 31. People would light bonfires, wear costumes, and offer food and drinks to the spirits to appease them and ward off evil. Halloween is a way of honoring and remembering our ancestors and celebrating the cycle of life and death.
  • Halloween is a time of creativity and expression: Halloween is a time of creativity and expression, when people can dress up as anything they want and unleash their imagination. Halloween is also a time of storytelling and sharing, when people can tell scary stories or jokes and have fun with others. Halloween is a way of exploring and expressing our identity and emotions.
  • Halloween is a time of community and connection: Halloween is a time of community and connection, when people can interact with their neighbors and friends and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Halloween is also a time of generosity and kindness, when people can give out treats or donations to others in need. Halloween is a way of building and strengthening our social bonds and values.

The Pros of Halloween

It feels like I don't even need to mention just how awesome Halloween is, but in case you were wondering, here are some reasons why Halloween should still exist: 

Halloween is a cultural tradition that celebrates life and death: Halloween is a cultural tradition that dates back to ancient times, when people believed that the spirits of the dead returned to visit the living on the night of October 31. People would light bonfires, wear costumes, and offer food and drinks to the spirits to appease them and ward off evil. Halloween is a way of honoring and remembering our ancestors and celebrating the cycle of life and death.

Halloween is a time of creativity and expression: Halloween is a time of creativity and expression, when people can dress up as anything they want and unleash their imagination. Halloween is also a time of storytelling and sharing, when people can tell scary stories or jokes and have fun with others. Halloween is a way of exploring and expressing our identity and emotions.

Halloween is a time of community and connection: Halloween is a time of community and connection, when people can interact with their neighbors and friends and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Halloween is also a time of generosity and kindness, when people can give out treats or donations to others in need. Halloween is a way of building and strengthening our social bonds and values.

Conclusion

Halloween is a fun and festive time of the year, but it also comes with a hidden cost: the environmental impact of candy and other Halloween-related products. By following some of the tips above, you can reduce Halloween waste and make it more sustainable without compromising on the fun and festivity. You can also spread awareness and encourage others to join you in having an eco-friendly Halloween. 

An important thing to remember as we read about the doom and gloom environmental effects of basically anything we do is that, for the most part, the solutions are out there, and it's up to you to implement them. You, yes, you, have a direct impact on the state of our world. So spend a couple minutes researching and implementing environmental tips. If you think people are the issue, why not be the one to step in. Create a TikTok, talk to your neighbors, talk to the legislators, put out flyers in your town, do something! The point I'm making is that by taking action, you will achieve something and eventually, you will see change. Believe me, where there is a problem, there is an opportunity, and where there is a problem, it's a chance for you to step in. 

If you are interested in learning more about environmental issues and solutions, you can join Firley Nonprofit, an organization that aims to tackle environmental problems head-on through awareness and action. Firley Nonprofit offers educational resources, events, campaigns, and volunteer opportunities for anyone who wants to make a positive difference for the planet. To join Firley Nonprofit, visit our website here  or follow us on social media here. Together, we can make every day a green day!

Thank you for reading our blog  :)