Halloween is around the corner and a question lingers in the air: is there a way to have a good time with friends and family while minimizing our impact on the environment? Before the pandemic, 45% of French people admitted having bought one or more disposable decorative elements for Halloween. In England, 7 million costumes were disposed of as of November 1st. And the situation in the US is no less dire.
“Halloween should really be called Plasticween,” Judith Enck, a former senior Environmental Protection Agency official under Barack Obama who now heads the Beyond Plastics advocacy organization said to the Washington Post. “The holiday a plastic and solid waste disaster.”
Everything in modern life tends to be accompanied in some way by some form of plastic packaging. Reducing our plastic impact this Halloween doesn’t have to be that difficult. The key is to become aware of our impact, and choose to make informed decisions. Pretending not to know is irresponsible. Enck, from Beyond Plastics, has provided a tip sheet for cutting back on plastic during Halloween.
While we all have fond memories of the sugar overload in the days after Halloween with a basket full of candy, it’s unlikely you thought about the impact of the treats beyond the effect the sugar was having on your teeth. Most Halloween candy sold in supermarkets around the world is riddled with harmful sugars and chemicals, and packaged in single-use plastic that is difficult to reuse.
They end up in landfill or as litter that finds its way into our oceans, lakes, rivers, parks, roadsides and other environments. Before long, those that become plastic pollution will deteriorate into harmful microplastics, which have a detrimental effect on the health of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, as well as the human body.
The environmental, climate and social impacts of popular candy products are largely associated with two ingredients: cocoa and palm oil. The Washington Post reports that according to some estimates, about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa while around 90 percent of the world’s palm oil trees are grown on a handful of islands in Indonesia and Malaysia. Producing cocoa and palm oil has led to the deforestation of critical rainforests, which poses problems for climate and biodiversity.
There are a number of easy recipes that contain healthier ingredients, many of which can be obtained plastic-free from waste-free stores or even your local farmers’ market. They will still leave a big smile on the faces of your local mischief company. The collective (and probably anarchic) act of baking with kids or friends and family is a great way to get into the Halloween mood
Pumpkin brownies, decorated cupcakes and cookies, for example, are easy to bake in batches, are great fun to get the kids involved in, and can be wrapped in brown paper or similar biodegradable packaging to distribute safely on Halloween night. If you or your kids are trick-or-treating, take tupperware or a similar container on your walk around the neighborhood, so they can refuse the packaging altogether.
2. Costumes and makeup
Say goodbye to synthetic material costumes made in China. If you have clothes to throw away or pieces of fabric, you can make your own costume. The easiest and most famous: the white sheet to become a ghost, and black clothes become a skeleton with a little white paint.
For those who don’t sew or do crafts, consider buying second-hand clothes or costumes at recycling stores or online or even ask your loved ones if they don’t have the missing accessory. Another solution is costume rentals.
In terms of decoration, the idea is to collect as many objects as possible that are at home, or with your loved ones, to integrate them into your decor such as wooden boxes, candles, old books.
If you want to buy, also think second hand. Make sure to buy solid objects so you can reuse them every year. Branches, trunks, moss, dead orange tree leaves, pine cones make an ideal decoration with an autumnal tone.
Industrial makeup is full of chemicals and toxic products, even dangerous for children. They are generally harmful to the skin and the planet. Choose organic, natural and hypoallergenic makeup brands and eco-friendly brands for makeup that is safe for your children and the planet.