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The Scariest Thing About Halloween 2023? The Waste!

Halloween Waste is a Huge Problem

It’s that time of year again. Spooky accessories and carved out pumpkins guard the city’s doorsteps. Children in their favorite costumes get ready for trick-or-treating.

Did you know the spookiest thing about Halloween is the amount of waste we generate? This short season produces billions of pounds of food waste and plastic waste.

Here are five sustainable choices how to reduce your contribution to Halloween waste.

1. Halloween Pumpkins

Halloween is not complete without carving out a creepy pumpkin face. That is one of the fun family activities that need to be part of Halloween preparation. The problem is not the pumpkins themselves, but how little of them is actually consumed.

In 2020 the US produced 2 billion pounds of Halloween pumpkins. Even though most parts of Halloween pumpkins are edible, 65% ended up on landfills as food waste. That is a total of 1.3 billion pounds of food sent to the landfill.

The next time you carve your pumpkin, follow these steps to avoid food waste

Roast the seeds: Separate the seeds from the flesh first. Clean them, dry them, and roast them in the oven at 300 degrees until they are golden (30-50 minutes). Add some olive oil and sea salt and snack them while watching your favorite horror movie.

Process the flesh: Many people think Halloween Pumpkins are not edible. While they are not as rich in flavor as hokkaido or butternut, most Halloween pumpkins are edible. There are many delicious recipes for your pumpkin flesh. For example you can make puree and use it for pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup. Another option is grating the flesh to bake some juicy pumpkin bread or muffins. If you’re more of a snacker, thin pumpkin make the perfect addition to your roasted seeds from above. Do a quick google search and you’ll find tons of recipes.

Compost the rest: Chop up whatever you can’t use and compost it. If you have garden, you can even compost the chopped-up pieces in place for some extra soil treatment. Make sure you smash the pieces with a hammer to speed up the decomposition. Cover the pieces with some soil and leaves. Without a garden, tabletop composers are a great option.

2. Halloween Costumes

Costumes are something we do not want to miss during Halloween celebration. The joy of kids dressing up and getting ready for trick-or treating needs to be part of Halloween. But there are sustainable ways to dress up.

Americans buy around 35 million costumes every year. Most of these costumes come in non-recyclable plastic bags. Even worse, 40% of those are only worn once. Last but not least, most (83%) Halloween costumes use non-recyclable plastic fiber. You can see that dressing up in single-use plastic makes a scary mix for pollution.

Why don’t you try these tips to have a more sustainable celebration and even save money?

Go Thrifting: The usual marketplaces and thrift stores offer many secondhand Halloween costumes. And they come in all sizes and preferences. No worries, if you’re not a fan of buying second hand yourself. Just make sure you don’t throw away your costume, but sell it or give it away for charity.

DIY: if you want to make it even more fun, try building your own costume from old clothes. It does not always have to be the classic “bedsheet ghost” costume, but you can really get creative.

Go natural: If you want to go with the classic Halloween costume, try to pick natural materials. A costume made of cotton is just as spooky as one made of plastic fiber!

3. Halloween Treats

Every year, Americans load up on 600 million pounds of candy for Halloween. Most of this candy comes in plastic packaging. Most of these wrappers end up in the regular household waste or accidentally even in nature. Some more sustainable options are:

Candy wrapped in paper or aluminum: spend some time in the grocery store and you’ll find alternatives. For example cookies, chocolate bars, or peanut butter cups often come in paper or aluminum foil. If you choose the aluminum-wrapped candy you can even make a fun game from it. Who can form the biggest ball out of the aluminum wrap? That’s not only fun. It also makes it easier for recycling machines to detect the sluminum.

Bulk candy: Many bulk stores offer delicious candy in bulk. Bring your own storage container and stock up the treats! Hand the candy out in a sustainable reusable bag or cardboard boxes.

DIY Halloween Treats: As always, there is also the option to make the sweet treats yourself. Mini cupcakes, brownies or cookies are great options. You will hand out treats with a good conscience and the kids will love you for the extra effort.

4. Halloween Decoration

Americans create 25% more trash during the holiday season. A lot of this trash comes from single-use decorations. Decoration is important and it contributes to the fun and spooky mood of this holiday. Unfortunately, Halloween decorations are typically made of cheap, single-use plastics that are non-recyclable. Here are some great sustainable alternatives for your spooky vibe:

Reusable decoration: You will find a lot of reusable decoration made from glass, ceramics, or wood. You will be able to reuse your decoration next year, rather than throwing it in the trash.

DIY Halloween Decoration: Again, creating your own decoration can be a lot of fun. Get some branches to create a creepy scarecrow or create ghosts from balls and bedsheets. You can really get creative and stand out. This unique decoration cannot be found at the next dollar store.

5. Reusable Halloween Treat Bags

How do you carry all that delicious Halloween candy? Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year and Halloween is not an exception. Switching to reusable containers or bags for trick-or-treating takes no effort at all. This can play a significant role in reducing plastic pollution.

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