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  • Lauren Kim

How Your Halloween Can Be Both Festive AND Eco-Friendly



Introduction

It’s spooky, eerie, and lights are turned down low; what can it be? It’s finally that time of the year: Halloween. Kids, adults, and teens are in the neighborhood, dressed up in costumes and knocking door-to-door for candy (by this means, I speak of times before COVID-19 circumstances; please stay safe if you or your loved ones are celebrating Halloween). But how is this affecting our environment? The masses of plastic candy wrappers and pumpkins ending up in landfills each year—that sounds like a real Halloween nightmare! How can we keep our Halloween festive AND eco-friendly at the same time? As Halloween approaches, I hope that this article will teach you more about preserving our environment as much as we want to preserve our spooky atmosphere!


Un-Dandy Candy Wrappers & The Scary Truth Behind Smiling Jack o’ Lanterns

158 million Americans participate in Halloween festivities, and 95 percent of them buy candy [2]. The amount spent on candy for Halloween alone totals more than $2 billion annually [2]. This adds up to 600 million pounds of candy, the weight equal to six Titanic ships [2]! That’s a lot of candy, and a lot of wrappers. Many people may not be eco-conscious while immersed in festivities, and that's understandable! However, it is important to keep in mind that when the small plastic wrappings start to multiply, they will eventually flood into our environment. 

  • Plastic pollution takes up 73% of beach litter worldwide, meaning that even the tiniest plastics, microplastics, are affecting our environment massively [1]. Just imagine how the undying, unbreakable, plastics are being produced and misplaced during Halloween. Try to recall a time when you have misplaced a piece of plastic, and multiply that with the entire human population who have littered. 

  • Plastic is killing more than 1.1 million seabirds and animals every year [1]. A study conducted by the University of Queensland in Australia, since the late 1980s, found that Green sea turtles now ingest twice the plastic they did 25 years ago [1]. Additionally with the death of animals and sea creatures, more than 90% of all birds and fish are believed to have plastic particles in their stomach[1]. It’s because plastic breaks up into tiny pieces in the sea, which are then consumed by fish and other sea animals[1]. Think about the candy wrappers that might be misplaced. Many times, these plastic pieces are not recyclable.



Carving pumpkins into fun Jack o’ Lanterns is always a cherished Halloween tradition. However, most people simply toss out their pumpkins once Halloween is over, contributing to food waste and even greenhouse gas emissions! Is our traditional Jack o’ Lantern still smiling? Definitely not.

  • Of the nearly 2 billion pounds of pumpkin grown in the United States in 2014, an estimated 1.3 billion pounds were simply trashed instead of eaten or composted, according to the US Department of Energy [3].

  • As pumpkins decompose, they release methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change [3]. The fumes from rotting squashes make up a tiny fraction of all human emissions, but it's worth considering - especially given that these pumpkins require a lot of energy and water to grow, and then don't even get eaten [3].



How To Have A Green Halloween

Horror films and thriller movies may complete the Halloween season, but it is important that our environment DOES NOT become a real life horror film/thriller movie. What preventions and solutions can we conduct to keep our environment from becoming a nightmare?

  • Terracycle: Terracycle is a private U.S. recycling institution that is able to recycle candy-wrappers. They offer “Zero Waste Boxes” specialized for candy or snack wrapper wastes. Hooray for environmentally-supportive organizations!

  • Reuse Trick or Treating Bags: Please reuse your Trick or Treating bags and not use one-time use plastic bags. Misplacing larger plastic bags can contribute to other detrimental causes to plastic pollution. 

  • Recipes to Pumpkin-related Foods: After carving out the insides of your pumpkins, it would be awesome to make some appetizing pumpkin recipes to make sure that you get the best out of your annual Jack o’ Lantern. Click this hyperlink to find tons of pumpkin-inclusive recipes, ranging from simple roasted pumpkin seeds to extravagant pumpkin cheesecakes!



  • Become Creative: Practice your artwork and become creative by using your candy wrappers for origami, painting, collages, etc. An idea can be to use your candy wrappers as reusable Halloween decorations! It never hurts to connect art with environmental friendliness. 




Once again, thank you for reading today’s article. I hope that this article has entertained you and informed you more about my intent to preserve the environment even during spooky seasons. Happy Halloween! Please be safe during these times, also!



References

[1] Mwamba, S. (2018, June 14). 10 Plastic Pollution Facts That Show Why We Need To Do More. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/plastic-pollution-facts/. 

[2] Honeyager, M. (2015, October 8). Candy Wrappers: Halloween's Environmental Nightmare. RecycleNation. https://recyclenation.com/2015/10/candy-wrappers-halloween-s-environmental-nightmare/. 

[3] Cassella, C. (2019, October 25). Turns Out Pumpkins Are Primarily Grown to End Up as Landfill Waste After Halloween. ScienceAlert. https://www.sciencealert.com/an-astonishing-number-of-pumpkins-are-wasted-for-halloween-each-year. 


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