The Dark Side of Halloween.
On October 31st, people across the globe will dress up in costumes, carve pumpkins, and eat copious amounts of candy.
Though it may seem like an innocuous holiday, the truth is that Halloween has a dark side.
Every year, millions of pounds of candy wrappers, plastic pumpkin buckets, and rubber masks end up in our landfills. In addition to the environmental damage wrought by all this waste, the process of producing all this Halloween paraphernalia takes a toll on our planet as well. Let's take a closer look at some of the ways Halloween is damaging our environment—and what we can do to have a more sustainable holiday.
The environmental impact of costume production.
Most Halloween costumes are made from synthetic materials like nylon and polyester, which are derived from petroleum. The production of these fossil-fuel based fabrics generates emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. In addition, the manufacturing process often uses toxic chemicals like dyes and formaldehyde finishes. These chemicals can pollute local water supplies and negatively impact the health of workers in costume factories.
The negative impact of pumpkin production.
Pumpkins are often grown in large factory farms that use a lot of pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals can runoff into local waterways, polluting drinking water and harming aquatic life. In addition, Pumpkins are typically shipped long distances to reach store shelves, racking up a hefty carbon footprint in the process. And once they've been carved into jack-o-lanterns, most pumpkins end up in the trash—adding to the millions of pounds of waste generated by Halloween every year.
The global impact of Halloween candy manufacturing.
Nearly all of the chocolate we eat here in the west is sourced from west Africa, where Child Labor is still alarmingly common. More than 2 million children are involved in hazardous work in cocoa farms across Ivory Coast and Ghana according to UNICEF, with many working long hours for little pay in dangerous conditions.
Tips for a more sustainable Halloween:
- Make your own decorations. DIY decorations are not only more unique, but they're also usually more sustainable than store-bought ones. You can make ghosts out of old sheets, carve candles out of leftover wax, and so much more.
- Go for a reusable costume. Whether you borrow one from a friend or make one yourself, opting for a reusable costume is a great way to be more sustainable this Halloween. Store-bought costumes are often made from synthetic materials that take centuries to break down in landfills.
- Buy candy in bulk or make your own. Another way to be more sustainable this Halloween is to buy your candy in bulk (making sure they are fair trade). You’ll also generate less waste because you won’t have all those individual wrappers to throw away. And if you really want to take it to the next level, try making your own candy! DIY candy is not only delicious, but it’s also usually healthier than store-bought candy because you can control what goes into it.
- Give out candy in reusable bags or containers. This one is easy! Just hit up your local dollar store for some reusable bags or containers and fill 'em up with candy. Not only will you save money in the long run, but you'll also be doing your part to reduce waste.
- Compost your pumpkins when you're done with them. After Halloween is over and all the fun has died down, it's time to compost those pumpkins . You can either do it yourself or drop them off at your local community garden .
- Choose eco-friendly , non-toxic makeup. If you 're planning on wearing makeup this Halloween , make sure it 's eco-friendly and non - toxic . That way , you can avoid polluting the environment AND keeping harmful chemicals away from your skin .
Halloween is a fun holiday for many people, but it’s also a holiday that produces a lot of waste. From the synthetic materials used to make costumes to the pesticides used on pumpkins, every aspect of Halloween generates pollution and waste. But by making small changes to the way we celebrate, we can have a big impact in protecting our planet. So this year, let's pledge to have a more sustainable Halloween!
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