A Guide to Seeking Sustainability This Halloween
The sustainability issues associated with Halloween may be spooky, but don’t let them scare you. Whether it’s a full-blown office party, or a low-value purchase, don’t forget about sustainable procurement while planning your Halloween festivities. Here is a quick guide to help you make your Halloween purchases more sustainable this year.
The costume industry usually produces low quality, single-use, inexpensive garments that can be culturally insensitive or overly sexualized. Here are some tips that employees can use to minimize their impact when purchasing costumes:
- Use old/worn clothes: Items like black shirts/pants, bedsheets, and worn jeans can all be used as costume pieces.
- Shop used: Thrift stores, consignment stores, and costume swaps are great places to find gently used costume items and givethem a new life! Organizations like Fashion Revolution and SwapSity publicize costume and clothing swaps that can be used for Halloween costumes.
- Don’t ignore social issues: Ensure your costume does not perpetuate cultural and gender stereotypes. Before choosing your costume, do some research into whether the costume is culturally appropriate. If you’re in doubt, switch your costume.
- Use eco-friendly makeup: If your costume involves makeup or face-paint, avoid toxic chemicals that can harm environmental and human health. Choose natural-based makeup with ingredients like beeswax, charcoal, or aloe vera.
Halloween decorations can be made from single use, toxic, or non-biodegradable materials, such as Styrofoam, single use plastics, and rubber. These materials generate excess waste and cause environmental toxicity in production and use. Here’s how you can add sustainability into your Halloween decoration choices:
1. Do it yourself: A great way to reduce your waste and minimize consumption is to repurpose used items for Halloween decorations.
2. Reuse: Whether you bought or made the decorations, make sure not to throw them away after a single use. If the decorations are still usable, store them away and use them each year until they have reached the end of their usable life.
3. Prioritize natural materials: Pumpkins, gourds, dead shrubbery, or hay can create some fun and biodegradable decorations. Fun tip: stuffing an old t-shirt and pants with fallen leaves can create a convincing corpse.
Here are a few event-related tips for prioritizing sustainability at your Halloween social:
- Choose reusable or biodegradable party supplies: Whether it’s candy bags, dishware, candles, or confetti, consider the biodegradable or reusable options. Instead of single use plastics or other non-biodegradable materials, use reusables where you can. Alternatively, opt for fibre based, biodegradable products made from materials like hemp or bamboo.
- Find local or Indigenous caterers: If you’re planning on catering the event, look for caterers who are local, and prioritize using local and seasonal ingredients. Alternatively, chose Indigenous caterers to promote economic reconciliation and support diverse suppliers.
Treats are a key part of many Halloween festivities. Here’s how you can make sure your Halloween treats are more sustainable:
- Look for eco-labels:Eco-labels are third party certifications that ensure products have high standards for environmental, social, and ethical production. Halloween candy can contain ingredients like cocoa and palm oil, which are contributors to unsustainable forest management and worker exploitation. Certifications like Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade International can help you spot products that have more sustainable practices in their supply chains.
- Reduce the packaging: Halloween candy often comes individually wrapped with non-recyclable packaging. Opt for candy that comes in boxes, paper, or biodegradable wrapping, like nerds and smarties, to reduce landfill waste. To avoid packaging altogether, think of alternative treat options, like coins or mandarins.
- Choose local: Support local businesses by purchasing your Halloween treats from local vendors. Look for recyclable or biodegradable packaging.
Don’t throw away sustainability principles on November 1st, ensure your cleaning and disposal processes are sustainable with these tips:
- Separate and properly dispose of waste: Ensure you separate the different types of waste generated (e.g., glass, paper, plastic) and dispose of them in their respective recycling bins. Where possible, collect candy wrappers and bring them to a soft plastic recycling depot. Look for a depot near you (e.g., Recycle BC).
- Keep, donate, or swap costumes: Once you’ve worn your costume, ask yourself if you’ll use it again. You can keep old costume pieces for future galas, parties, concerts, or even a future Halloween. If you’re sure you won’t use your costume elementsagain, donate them to a local thrift store, clothing swap, charity, or friend. Consider swapping costumes with friends if you can.
- Reuse: Decorations and event supplies can be kept and reused for future Halloweens.
- Use sustainable cleaning products: If you made a mess, clean it up with a sustainable cleaning product. This helps decrease the use of toxic chemicals like chlorine bleach and ammonia, which cause aquatic toxicity and have been linked to long-term health issues. Instead, choose products with ingredients like essential oils, vinegar, or citrus.
Whether you’re hosting a Halloween event, or taking your kids trick-or-treating, there are many ways to ensure your Halloween is more sustainable.