It can be quite challenging to maintain an eco-friendly lifestyle during holiday seasons, particularly Christmas and Halloween. It requires walking a fine line between successfully maintaining your environmentally conscious values and becoming a grouchy grinch who forbids fun in the name of the greater good.
Over the past few years, I think I’ve successfully refined my approach to major holidays, managing to navigate a happy balance between conscious consumption and celebration. With All Hallows’ Eve approaching, I’ve put together five ways to help you have a green Halloween.
1. Spookily Secondhand
It seems like Halloween costume stores pop up in every empty storefront as soon as the first leaf falls from the tree in September, but despite the allure of these one-stop shops, secondhand stores are actually the best place to shop for a costume — either one you put together yourself or one you choose from a rack of store-bought options that were someone else’s creepy or cute aliases a year before.
These costumes will be a fraction of the price compared with buying new, and reusing a costume means you’ll not only save money, you’ll prevent that wicked witch or swashbuckling pirate from haunting a landfill somewhere.
This tip works especially well for kids’ costumes — often worn for just a few hours before being discarded, they’re usually in great shape and kids will enjoy choosing their own secondhand costume without price limitations.
2. Boo-tiful Reusable Decor
This year, eschew disposable decorations like police tape and spray-on cobwebs and opt for well-made decorations that can be used year after year instead (these can be found secondhand, too!). Choosing items made from sturdy materials like wood or cloth instead of plastic or Styrofoam means that they’ll last for years and be less likely to get damaged in storage.
Saving spooktacular decorations from one year to the next also means you can refine your sinister tableaus with each passing year instead of having to reinvent it from scratch each time.
3. Tricky Treats
This one is perhaps the most challenging obstacle to overcoming a wasteful or polluting Halloween. Those teeny-tiny chocolate bars and fruit snacks are called “fun sized,” but the environmental impact of all those plastic candy wrappers is anything but — especially when you consider that we buy $2.2 billion in candy each Halloween season. All of those tiny wrappers add up, but handing out a box of raisins is sure to get your house egged — what’s a green ghoul to do?
Thankfully, there is an easy solution that can also help provide a happy Halloween for children with food sensitivities, too. Handing out a non-candy item like Halloween pencils or natural rubber pumpkin erasers allows you to sidestep the individually wrapped treats, but foil-wrapped organic chocolates are a great option, too.
If budget or tradition prohibits either of these options, don’t beat yourself up. It’s one day a year. Give in to the fun of the holiday and purchase normal Halloween candy, but buy a bit less of it (we all know that you end up eating a third of it anyway) and give out one piece per trick-or-treater.
4. Monstrous (in Moderation)
Your kids are going to hate me for this one. (Please apologize to them on my behalf.) But limiting the number of houses your kids collect candy from while trick-or-treating will do a lot to decrease the amount of trash — not to mention nutritional damage — done by all of those chocolate bars and bags of chips.
Again, the goal isn’t to strip any shred of fun from the holiday, so don’t be stingy about it, but do set a limit — either a length of time or a number of street blocks. Parents can make this decision for kids under 5; kids older than 5 can work with you to find a limit that’s acceptable to you both. And rather than an exercise in deprivation, use it as a chance to talk to your kids about moderation, being happy with having “enough” and the effects — environmental and physical — of so much junk food.
If you’re brave enough to host a Halloween party, remember to avoid one-time-use serving items like plastic utensils and plates, plastic cups, and paper napkins. Investing in a set of inexpensive secondhand dishware and cloth napkins hugely reduces the amount of waste generated by parties and can be stored and reused for any special occasion, meaning you can avoid a truly frightening amount of trash.
From everyone here at Earth911, we wish you a happy, green Halloween!
Stumped on what to do with that jack-o’-lantern? Watch our video “What to Do with That Halloween Pumpkin” for great tips!
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