Halloween Horror

The wind carries a chilly, spooky breeze reminding us that Halloween is around the corner. A thrilling holiday for many of us; each year, we look forward to stuffing our bags with goodies while spooking our families and friends away with our terrifying Halloween costumes and decorations.

Everything from paper bag dresses to realistic zombies and homes with spooky stickers to monsters… Halloween witnesses it all! Besides the spooky decorations, the costumes and the goodies, there is a spooky impact on the environment that we tend to ignore.

As the day’s inch closer to Halloween, we all invest money, time and effort into creating our best Halloween, looking forward to each year’s new decorations and spooky costumes; without considering the impacts of being afraid of more than just the costumes. However, the spookiest thing about Halloween is not Halloween itself but what we purchase during Halloween and what we do with the same after all the fun. Some of the most significant and worrying issues regarding Halloween are the plastic waste and environmental pollution the holiday contributes to the ecosystem.

The amount of garbage and waste produced after those spooky decorations have severe and scary consequences for our natural environment. For instance, plastic waste is Halloween’s most significant pollution issue. Plastics are found in Halloween wigs, cosmetics applied, toys, candy wrappers, bins and many other products and items used to decorate and celebrate the holiday.

An investigation in 2016 by “The Hubbub Foundation“,- a charity campaigning for the environment, discovered that polluting oil-based plastic accounts for nearly 83% of the material used by nineteen supermarkets and retailers, namely: Aldi, Argos, Asos, Amazon, Boden, John Lewis, M&S, Next, and Tesco, which ultimately ends in landfills. The foundation discovered that approximately seven million costumes, equivalent to 83 million bottles, were thrown away. Hence, going homemade for the costume might be a better option, but if one plans to buy an outfit, one must ask for “PVC-free” or “phthalate-free” materials as these chemicals are toxic and can be hidden in the costumes.

Similar to plastics, makeup consumption skyrockets during Halloween, becoming the second most harmful ingredient to the horror story of unsustainable Halloween. A 2009 report from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that face paints for children contain a small amount of lead, ranging from 0.05 to 0.65 parts per million. Some colours might also include arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel, or mercury, which can cause skin issues such as sensitization and contact dermatitis. Sierra Club, an environmental organization, created a list of eco-friendly cosmetics that do not damage the skin or the environment. Further, fake skin and face paint recipes are made with natural food colouring and fruit or vegetable-based dyes, contributing towards sustainability.

Apart from the toxic costumes and the makeup, decorations also contribute to the unsustainable effects of Halloween. Decorations bought from stores are usually made from cheap and non-recyclable materials, such as plastics. Plastic plates, utensils, and cups are an intrinsic part of Halloween parties; however, the harsh fact is that these plastic plates and utensils will not decompose and will take thousands of years before they wear off from the planet. Moreover, decorative candles and tea lights contain petroleum-based paraffin that releases harmful environmental chemicals.

Millions of pounds are spent on pumpkins every night and will be dumped after the party. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United States yields about 1.4 billion pounds of pumpkins yearly, ending in trash bins after Halloween. Once a pumpkin is put onto a porch, it uses multiple resources and fertilizers to grow it. In addition, pumpkins are a food type and disposing of them after Halloween night contributes to food waste. To reduce pumpkin waste, it is essential that we compost them, slice up the flesh for soup or muffins, bake the seeds, or blend them into a facial exfoliant instead of throwing them away. The pumpkins on the porch are edible, and it is essential to reuse them creatively.

Candies are an essential element of Halloween parties, but are these candies a sustainable form of treats?… think twice! The goodies and the candies are made from Palm oil, which essentially is not a sustainable source. According to NationSwell, which aims to address the world’s challenges, palm oil is “cheap to ship and produce” and emits greenhouse gases which can cause deforestation by burning forests for palm oil plantations. Such candies that are wrapped individually end up being in water polluting the water bodies and adding up to the already alarming pollution levels. These wrappers contribute highly to the floating debris in the water bodies, making them hazardous to the ecosystem.

Halloween is spooky and must stay the same for everyone enjoying the fall festival; it must be safe for those participating in the holiday but also for the environment and the planet. To ensure that we all act as responsible consumers, we must aim to purchase products that contribute towards a sustainable festival, not one that spreads pollution and waste. So, how can we make Halloween a green Halloween this year and contribute to waste or the landfills? Here are some ideas:

1. Conscious Wardrobe

Dress up conscious; we must look for inspiration within the wardrobe and create a costume from old clothes. Additionally, we can use environmentally sustainable materials. To remain sustainable and a conscious nature lover, donating old clothes to someone that can use the same in an alternative solution that can be adopted.

2. Sustainable Decorations

DIY decorations from old clothes or spooky stuff at home are a great way to deviate from plastic decorations and are muchly sustainable. Buying second-hand decoration materials or decorating from sustainable materials are some options that we can all choose and move away from the use of plastics.

3. Sustainable Party

Throwing a Halloween party can be considered highly hazardous due to the use of plastics and non-recyclable materials. However, serving in non-plastic cutlery is one way to avoid plastic usage. Furthermore, donating old stuff that can be used by someone else is an excellent means to put a curb on plastic pollution. Lastly, dump the containers at a recycling plant that can recycle the same and reduce the burden on landfills and marine bodies.

4. Sustainable Food

Often we see a considerable amount of food wasted yearly during parties. The problem can be solved by cooking at home, thus, reducing packing material wastage. Additionally, sharing the food with those who cannot cook it themselves is a great way to reduce food waste and dump it.

5. Sustainable Pumpkins

Halloween and Pumpkins go hand in hand; however, the same gets wasted and dumped after the party gets over. Using pumpkins judiciously is necessary to curb landfills and stop pollution from food wastage. Sharing the seeds with birds and wildlife, cutting the pumpkin in half and scooping the innards to fill the seeds, donating the pumpkin, composting or replanting the same for the future are some ways to reduce pumpkin wastage and addition to the landfills.

There can be several creative ways that we all can think off and make our Halloween sustainable, Eco-friendly and innovative. How much we want to make it sustainable remains to be seen.

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