Hello neighbors! The signs are all here: The weather is cooling off, the days are getting shorter, and the smell of pumpkin spice is lingering from every coffee shop in Placer County. It’s October and Halloween is just around the corner!
Every year we promise ourselves to not go overboard with the bombardment of candy, decorations and pumpkins. But the allure is too great. You can dress up as whoever you want, decorate your house however you want, and party with neighbors who give you free treats just because you stopped by! That’s why every year, we find ourselves shell-shocked November 1st with an upset stomach and an overflowing trash bin.
In fact, despite the abundance of ghastly ghouls and wicked witches roaming our neighborhoods, the only thing that truly scares us at One Big Bin is just how much trash Halloween generates. The National Retail Federation estimates that with more than 179 million Americans planning to celebrate Halloween, holiday spending in 2017 will reach a record $9.1 billion! With the festivities ending after only one night, that means a lot of that spending turns into day-after trash, and is on its way to your local landfill.
The good news is much of this disposable waste can be prevented!
With just a little bit of planning, and adding some green thinking to your orange and black, we can make sure this Halloween is a blast for both your family and the environment. Here are the seven ways to scare away the waste this Halloween:
1. Plan ahead!
We’ve all been there. Holidays sometimes just sneak up on us. And before we know it, we’re scrambling to our local supermarket, buying whatever unpopular candy is left. Because of poor planning, we often purchase the worst candy for the environment, the most expensive disposable costumes for our kids, and buy pumpkins that we just carve and toss.
The number one way to reduce waste this Halloween is to give yourself a little lead time to make greener decisions that help the environment and save money.
2. Have a plan for your pumpkin.
A jack-o-lantern is the iconic symbol of Halloween and pumpkin-carving is one of the most enjoyable and creative activities of the holiday. But most people don’t realize that it is a huge contributor to food waste in America, oftentimes the best parts of the pumpkin just being tossed away without a second thought. When pumpkins decompose in the landfill they breakdown and create methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
If you plan to carve a pumpkin this year, be sure to use every part of it! Remember, pumpkin is a food and many delicious things can be made with the seeds, flesh and rind. And once Jack’s lantern has been snuffed for good, breakdown the leftovers for composting.
3. Decorate with next year in mind.
Decorating your home can be the most enjoyable part of Halloween. You’ll probably have lots of visitors knocking on your front door, and making your house look as welcoming or as haunting as possible greatly enhances that experience.
But don’t fall into the trap of buying cheap, disposable decorations that will only last you one season. Save money and the environment by investing in sturdy, reusable items that you can store and use every year. Stay away from flimsy, paper-based products that will tear and avoid high-energy usage decorations such as inflatables or ones powering a lot of lights.
4. Create your costume instead of buying it.
Though it might take a little more work and creativity, building your costume from scratch or piecing it together from items found at a thrift store is more cost-friendly than buying a new costume every year. And with a lot of retail costumes being made from cheap plastic, you’ll be doing the earth a favor as well.
Spending time with your kids to plan and design their costumes can add an additional layer of fun to the Halloween experience, especially when you can save elements of your creation to help future designs. The Internet is a great resource for amazing do-it-yourself costume ideas.
5. Treat your neighbors to greener treats…
When choosing candy to hand to out this year, stick with ones that are wrapped in cardboard because that type of packaging can be recycled. And if you are on the receiving end of candy in wrappers you can’t recycle, considering making an art project out of all the ones you collect!
IF you are trying to be health conscious in addition to being eco-friendly, dehydrated fruits such as raisins or banana chips make a great substitute for a sweet tooth.
6. …Or give them something better!
A growing Halloween trend is avoiding giving away candy altogether and opting for something more useful for trick-or-treaters. School supplies, such as pencils or crayons, are always appreciated by parents and kids dig gifts that will last more than one night, like trading cards or bookmarks. One fun idea for the whole family to enjoy in seasons to come are packets of wildflower seeds.
If you do decide to go the gift route this Halloween, avoid buying cheap plastic trinkets at discount stores because they are often worse for the environment than candy wrappers when they make it to the landfill.
7. Spend less time trick-or-treating and more time having fun.
One of the most trash-generating activities of Halloween is trick-or-treating. We spend hours collecting as much candy as we can, then we eat it until we have a stomachache, and donate the rest. This year, try trick-or-treating on just one or two streets rather than the whole neighborhood, and collect only an appropriate amount of candy that will actually be eaten. Although it goes against every instinct we had as a child, getting less candy means less waste and more time for fun activities like pumpkin carving or a Halloween party.
For parents who are reading this and think their kids will hate them forever if they cut into their trick-or-treat time, remember, every community has events that will ensure this year’s Halloween is fun and memorable. Joining a local activity instead of trick-or-treating will help greatly reduce the amount of trash littering the streets on Halloween night. Here are some great ideas for family fun activities that will help take the focus away from trick-or-treating. And here are some more!
Follow our tips above or do a little exploring on the web to find some great ways to scare away the Halloween waste. And remember, Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, so you have the entire weekend before to party! We hope you have a fun and safe Halloween this year!