How to Have a Ghoulishly ‘Green’ Halloween
Autumn leaves are falling, the nights are closing in and Halloween is creeping towards us. According to pagan folklore, All Hallows’ Eve is a time when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest, allowing spirits and ghouls to cross over. A tradition based on Samhain, an ancient celebration to mark the summer’s end, and a time to remember the dead. Today we use fancy dress and make pumpkin lanterns which mimic times past, where people would don their clothes inside out and place jack-o’-lanterns in their windows to keep bad spirits away.
Modern Halloween has become a time of fun and celebration, a day of tricks and treats and cheap thrills. However, after the celebrations are over, we are left with a lot of unecessary waste, most of which, unfortunately, ends up in landfill. Times are-a-changing, we live in a world where global waste, pollution, and climate change are all issues that are going to haunt us unless we change our ways. So, in the spirit of sustainability and responsibility - here are some suggestions as to how you can ‘green’ your Halloween.
Did you know that 64% of people don’t use the insides of their Halloween pumpkins. Although ‘carving pumpkins’ are bred and grown specifically for carving and tend to be more watery and less flavourful than the more edible sugar pumkins, they can still be consumed. Here are some ideas for turning your fresh pumpkin guts into something tasty….
Make pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie or pumpkin cupcakes for family, friends, neighbours or even for a local homeless person - I’m sure they would really appreciate a hot cup of pumpkin soup. Check out this link for some cool recipes - Save the Guts! - 11 ways to eat your Halloween Pumpkin Carvings.
Dry out pumpkin seeds to eat, if you don’t like them you can always leave them out to feed birds and squirrels. Famous Chef Jamie Oliver gives you steps on how to roast your seeds here.
Either chop the remains of the pumkin into pieces or leave whole and put at the end of the garden or in a nearby forest for the local wildlife to feast on.
Compost the remnants of the pumpkin, put in your food waste bin, check with neighbours who may own an allotment or donate to a local farm or zoo for the animals to feed on. Do not send to landfill!!
Before rushing out to buy you or your children new costumes, consider the following alternatives:
If you have the time and the inclination, have a go at making a costume, there are plenty of online resources to help you do so.
Scour your local second-hand shops, sometimes they have used costumes or with a bit of imagination, you can pick up a few separates to put together a whole new outfit.
Use what you already have or swap costumes/clothes with friends and family to come up with something new.
Rent costumes from your local costume hire shop.
Dress in black, red or purple and paint your face instead of forking out on new clothes.
If you choose to buy new, then buy from ethical retailers and try to buy something that you will wear again.
There are plenty of ideas for DIY costumes and face painting on the internet especially on Youtube and Pinterest.
Most Halloween accessories and decorations are plastic and are hard to recycle or end up in landfill - to avoid this, why not get creative and have a go at making your own, you can check out the local secondhand shops too, they often have some donated Halloween paraphernalia.
If after Halloween, you have unwanted costumes, instead of throwing them in the bin with household waste and contributing to the 12,000 plus tons of Halloween costumes that go to landfill each year, consider donating them to your local charity shop so they can be used again next year or if you want to make a bit of extra cash then you can even sell them onlin
Trick-or-treating, albeit lots of sugar-filled fun, tends to leave the streets littered with lots of sweet wrappers which are usually made of plastic that is not good for the environment or local wildlife. Ideally, a zero waste Halloween can be had by baking some homemade treats to give out. If you would like some inspiration then click on the link below to see some really awesome creations:
Many of us however, may not have the time or indeed the inclination to spend the day baking, so here are a few vegan, minimal-waste ideas that I have managed to find:
Bulk buy sweets at whole foods or your nearest bulk or zero-waste store and wrap in little recyclable/compostable paper bags. Many bigger chocolate bars have foil and paper or cardboard packaging. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to your paper candy bags.
If you don’t have a zero-waste or whole food store near you then check out these goodies below from brands who are using mostly earth-friendly packaging. Some are using recycled plastic or are in the processs of phasing out plastic completely, whilst others are already using compostable materials. Supporting these brands means supporting the move towards living plastic-free. There are packaging details besides each product.
The likelihood is that you will have more control over what treats you hand out than what your children may bring home, so if at the end of the day you still end up with a load of candy wrappers, you can either use them with your kids in craft projects or donate them to a local school to be used for crafts. Another option is to send them to Terracycle who collect non-recyclable or difficult to recycle materials where it gets upcycled into other things.
By following some of the suggestions above it is possible to lessen our Halloween footprint without missing out on the fun stuff. Spread the word about the steps you’re taking to have a green Halloween and you might just find that others are open to the idea as well. Live by example :)
HAPPY HALLOWEEN ECOPUNKS