Originating in the ancient Celtic era, All-Hallows eve was once a celebration of the transition between Autumn and winter. But what was once a holiday steeped in folk law and tradition, has now become a billion-dollar industry.
In the UK alone It was estimated that extraordinary £320 million or $418 million will be spent on Halloween this year; two thirds of which being spent on plastic filled costumes and decorations; but with all this excess, can we celebrate without it having a monstrous effect on our carbon footprint?
We believe the answer to this question is yes and have put together a basic guide of how to be spooky and sustainable this Halloween.
Put Your Pumpkin Carving Skills To The Test
Pumpkins can be found in every major supermarket in the western world and have become a universal symbol of the season, but not only do they make ghoulish decorations they can also make amazing Halloween treats.
Unlike their plastic based counterparts, real pumpkins are fully compostable and fully edible. From a traditional pumpkin pie, to an adventurous pumpkin curry, this year you can do so much more than carving. Don’t let those seeds go to waste either!
Once roasted pumpkin seeds can make a wonderful and easy to make Halloween snack. What you can’t eat, compost. Either put it in your garden waste bin or simply bury it in your garden for an eco-friendly way to enrich your garden soil.
If your worried about pesticides, opting for organic versions of this autumn vegetable is a good way to protect your health and the environment. Pumpkin patches for the public have also become much more common due to their growing popularity; and taking your children pumpkin picking can teach them a valuable lesson about the true source of their food, instead of only seeing their fruit and veg once it reaches the store shelves.
Bake Your Own Haunted Treats
Candy is one of the sweetest parts of the season, but unlike pumpkins; chocolates and jellies create a huge single use plastic problem – but there is a solution.
Baking your own treats will not just reduce your carbon footprint but will reduce the amount of packaging and wrappers you will have to dispose of. Baking can also be a healthy alternative to more common candies such as Kit-Kats, Milk Duds and Baby Ruths which contain palm oil.
Skipping these popular brands will help slow the cultivation of palm oil which is currently one of the biggest threats to the extinction of Africa’s most popular species. Devastatingly, from 1990 to 2007 the Ivory Coast in Africa lost 90% of its Chimpanzees due to the deforestation palm oil farming causes.
Not much of a baker? Buy your candy from sustainable or fair-trade companies that take pride in their practices. Tony’s Chocolonely uses ethically sourced sustainable cocoa and recycled paper packaging to minimize their environmental impact. They are leading the fight against child and slave labor, deforestation and unfair wages commonly paid to cocoa growers.
It may surprise you to know that some of the world’s favourite chocolate companies such as Mars, nestle and Hershey do not have sufficent measures in place to prevent child labor abuses in the farming of their cocoa, even though they most certainly have the resources and funding to do so.
Another perfect example of sustainable treats are Nakd snack bars. Taking on both the problem of obesity and unethical farming these delicious bars are all vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free, with 100% organic ingredients. Making Nakd an intolerance friendly snack that won’t harm the environment or your digestion.
If that’s not in your budget, don’t worry. You can still reduce your environmental impact by simply searching your local store for items with no palm oil, in as little packaging as possible and choosing paper wrappers over plastic as a single candy wrapper can take up to 2 decades to decompose, unlike it’s paper wrapped competitors who’s packing can take a mere 6 months.
Recycle Your Ghoulish Attire
With approximately 12,500 tonnes of Halloween costumes sent to landfill worldwide each year, it has become one of the biggest single use plastic problems of the season, but does it have to be?
In the past 2 decades there has been a 400% increase in the amount of clothing consumed each year, 84% of which is disposed of, leaving it to emit greenhouse gases and release chemicals into the ground. So rather than buying cheap mass-produced outfits from your local store, why not check out what you already have.
Having a look through your wardrobe can unearth old clothing perfect for a frightful zombie or your favourite celebrity and its completely free! Making costumes from old clothes can also be a great Halloween activity for the kids. Why not go one step further; put your sewing skills to the test and make your own! You could even homemade outfits the theme of your party and see what you and your friends can make – you may surprise yourselves!
If that’s not your style, why not check out your local charity shops? Half of all Halloween costumes in the UK are only worn once before being donated or disposed of, meaning your local store may be a gold mine of almost new Halloween costumes at half the price.
Once you’ve worn the costume donate it back! You won’t just be helping your local charities; you will be helping reduce the amount of polluting oil-based plastic that ends up in landfills. To combat this plastic crisis many stores across the globe offer places or even incentives for you to recycle your clothes.
One such example is UK store chain Marks & Spencers, which has a new “Shwopping” scheme, for every bag of clothes brought in for donation to an Oxfam store, Marks & Spencers have pledged to offer a £5 voucher off your next shop making recycling your old costume worth every penny. Since the formation of its partnership in 2008 over 28 million garments have been donated, worth an estimated £19 million for Oxfam helping those living in poverty in the poorest countries.
Be A Conscientious Party Host
With the music in full swing it’s easy to forget just how much waste a party can generate. Empty bottles, plastic plates and cups, these are all things that add to the growing plastic issue.
Swapping out your plastic cups and plates for glass and porcelain means you can enjoy the festivities responsibly, and it could even save you money. Having extra tableware for parties, holidays and family gatherings means you can use them for years with no waste at all both economically and ecologically.
If you get tired of your party plates and decide you’d like something different why not donate your old sets to your local charity shop or homeless shelter. They would be more than grateful for your donation and by doing so, not only are you switchin’ up your kitchen, you’re helping your local community.
Still want to skip the washing up? Low cost compostable plates are now readily available online and although they do not come without their own level of environmental impact, it is nothing compared to the damaging effects of commonly used party supplies.
Wonderful substitutes such as plates made from bamboo, wheat fiber and even seed paper that can be planted after use are sold worldwide. Lets combat global pollution one planted paper plate at a time.
Most relevantly, say no to plastic straws. After the recent straw-ban movement and with so many alternatives on its rapidly growing market there really is no excuse for the continuous use of something so damaging to our already struggling sea life.
Plastic single-use straws are one of the top 10 most common items found throughout our many beautiful oceans, and as they do not biodegrade, they eventually break down into micro-plastics making them impossible to filter from our seas. Great companies such as FinalStraw have developed a durable straw product that can be used time and time again, eliminating the need for single-use straws.
Beginning as a kickstarter with a mission statement and a single product, FinalStraw now has a multitude of different straws to choose from and has become one of the leaders in the war against the straw.
Drink Cauldrons Full Of Wine & Raise Poverty Line
Looking to have fun without compromising your ethical responsibility. Then researching the companies providing your parties food and drinks is paramount.
Finding out whether they can trace the very sources of their core ingredients and pledging to only buy from companies that pay fair wages; sends a message to companies whose workers fall far below the poverty threshold.
Jackson Family Wines is one such company actively taking responsibility for their global impact. Not only is Jackson’s an award-winning wine company, boasting the title of top selling chardonnay in America, it is also pioneering sustainable winegrowing.
Their sustainably farmed grapes and ethical labor policies mean you can enjoy superior wine in full knowledge of where it came from. This wonderful company also has the largest solar energy farm in the wine-making industry, recycle 98% of its packaging and protect the wildlife surrounding its farms by using as little pesticide as possible.
They instead opt to use more natural methods such as using owls and falcons to eat crop pests waste. Buying from companies like Jackson Family Wines can ensure that the products you buy do not actively contribute to slave labor, nor help companies exploiting their workers to profit from their practices.
Get Witch-crafty With Your Games & Decor
Halloween is the second largest holiday for buying decorations and it would be fair to say these adornments are a major part of the season. But must we be haunted by our homes?
Making your own decorations needn’t be as hard as it sounds. Filling your home with terrifying papier mâché masks or making dark and dismal Halloween bunting from your old black clothes are sure fire ways to make decorations with things you will already have. Or, get crafty with nature and fill your home beautifully carved pumpkins, autumn leaves, pinecones and twigs for an authentic October vibe.
If you already have store-bought Halloween decorations, don’t throw them away! Instead, store them well and use them year after year making sure to recycle any used batteries and save any broken items for your next Halloween DIY project.
Although not something normally thought of, party games are also a plastic problem this Samhain. Mostly made of non-recyclable parts and batteries, modern party games fill the shelves during any party season, but traditional games such as bobbing for apples or perhaps musical statues with spooky sounds are great party fillers that require no props at all. let’s break the cycle of consumerism and get back to some traditional eco-friendly fun.
2019 has been a year of change, from the growing movement against single use plastics to advancements in sustainable practices and alternatives. But to truly protect our environment we need to be conscious of the impact of our buying habits and take more time to research the sources of what we wear, eat, drink and fill our homes with.
As of this year greenhouse gases have reached record levels, melting our ice caps and causing devastating forest fires, making our everyday decisions vital in preserving our world for future generations.
Not only that, but as of this moment there are still many living in slavery and unimaginable working conditions to provide us with things we do not need. As a society we should focus on holding these companies accountable for the sources of their ingredients, and demand that they provide adequate wages and working conditions. Let’s have a great Halloween this year, whilst recognizing just how much damage holiday excess is doing to our planet and with the knowledge that by changing the smallest things in our lives, we can make a difference. stay safe, stay spooky and stay sustainable.
Let’s have a great Halloween this year, whilst recognizing just how much damage holiday excess is doing to our planet and with the knowledge that by changing the smallest things in our lives, we can make a difference. stay safe, stay spooky and stay sustainable.