From ghastly waste to green treats: A sustainable Halloween guide 
The environmental horror story of Halloween and what can be done to celebrate sustainably.

The real skeleton in the closet from a single night of festivity is the scary amount of waste generated by the frighteningly large annual Halloween spend on cheap merchandise, single use wrappers, and non-biodegradable plastics. Canadian landfills are trembling in fear in anticipation of the incoming piles of methane-generating Halloween trash.

Many institutions and organizations have highlighted the exorbitant funds allocated toward our treasured Halloween festivities. The Retail Council of Canada reported in their “Halloween 2022 Shopping in Canada Survey” that 45 per cent of Canadians celebrate Halloween and of this number, 54 per cent spent more than C$50 each. According to a report, that’s a ghastly C$1.64 billion dollars being spent on costumes, candy, pumpkins and spooky decorations—most of which find their way into the garbage.

Whilst orange and black may be the traditional Halloween colors, it’s high time we add green to the list; we need to eliminate wasteful tricks and offer our planet biodegradable treats instead.

Although I am part of the 45 per cent that celebrate Halloween, as someone who is passionate about protecting the world we live in I am haunted by this festival’s impact on our environment. 

A London-based environmental study group reports that in the United Kingdom, Halloween generates 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste, which is the same as dumping 83 million plastic bottles. In the US, another 5.4 million kilograms of textile waste is produced for costumes and decorations, and it is estimated that every trick-or-treater generates 500 grams of waste. Added together, the worldwide numbers are terrifying. Then, there’s the nightmare of the one billion pounds of wasted pumpkins waiting to decompose and contribute to global warming—food waste for thought to keep you up like a vampire at night.

However, there is still hope for us. We can make a positive difference toward solving this problem starting right now. Here is a list of things you can do to make more eco-friendly choices as you enjoy the hocus pocus season:

  1. Make costumes from recycled materials. Buy them from second-hand stores, exchange with friends, or maybe it’s time to use that awful pink dress in your closet that is appropriate for no other occasion and go out as Barbie. Avoid purchasing cheap non-recyclable plastic costumes from the big box stores. Check out HGTV for a list of 100 DIY “budget friendly” costumes. When you are done, don’t place them in the trash—instead, find a way to reuse or repurpose them. 
  2. Don’t be scared to get in touch with your creative side and make your own decorations. Consult Pinterest for a list of Halloween decor from recycled materials and make it a family event. Use items from the garage or neighbourhood recycling heap. Don’t have a heap? Then start one at your local community center, clubhouse, or common room. If you must buy decorations, buy good quality ones that you can store and reuse annually.
  1. Use homemade reusable containers for trick-or-treating. Just attach a string to an old reusable container at home and personalize it with your name and you’ve got your candy bucket. Or, recycle an old t-shirt and design your own bag. 
  1. Purchase candies that use less wrapping, or opt for those packaged with biodegradable wrappers such as paper or cardboard. If the candy uses any type of recyclable sustainable packaging, such as Smarties, Sun-Maid Raisins, and Nerds, then they are great options.
  1. Compost your used pumpkins, roast the seeds for a snack, or use the filling for home cooking, like baking a pumpkin pie. The Food Network has a list of 50 great recipes to help you get started.
  2. Only use energy efficient LED lights for home decor.
  1. Have zero-waste Halloween parties. Only use reusable cutlery, prioritize composting any food waste, and encourage carpooling to get to the venue.

By adopting these simple waste management practices, we can celebrate our spooktacular events without giving the environment a scare as well. 

Staff Writer (Volume 49 & 50) — Angelina is currently in her second year at UTM, majoring in Criminology, Law & Society with minors in French and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She has previously served as a Staff Writer for Volume 49 of The Medium. With a keen interest in fostering knowledge and a dedication to staying informed on current issues, Angelina endeavours to make a meaningful impact through her engagement with The Medium. Beyond her academic and work pursuits, Angelina finds solace in the pages of books, coffee shops, and good conversation.


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