I love Halloween because I'm obsessed with scaring and being scared. And I adore seeing my kids dressed-up and having a blast. But all the waste that is created, especially the individually wrapped candies, seriously freaks-me-out. So, here is how I balance still having fun, but creating a little less waste in the process. (Hint: I keep the Zero Waste Heirarchy in mind)
1. Glow Sticks & Gadgets - I'll never forget when I read an article about de-cluttering your home. The author gave her readers permission to re-gift items that would just take up space and clutter their home. That "permission" really freed me up of the obligation to keep every single thing I was given, even when I desired to have less in my life. Here is the permission I give you when it comes to waste. It is perfectly acceptable to politely decline single-use toys, gadgets and glow sticks that are sure to end up in the landfill. Instead, you can still keep your kids happy and safe by opting for clip on reusable lights or a good old fashion flashlight that you can use year after year (rechargeable batteries for bonus points).
2. Decorations - I love Halloween so much that it is hard to resist all the latest and greatest spooky decorations. If I do purchase a decoration, I make sure it is of good quality and will last year after year. Think quality, over quantity. I also take my kids to Halloween stores and instead of shopping, we treat them like a haunted house. We go in with the expectation of having fun and being scared, and they know full well, we are having an experience, rather than making a purchase.
3. Candy - Do you inevitably end up throwing away excess candy each year? Consider having a plan in advance to reduce the amount of candy your kids bring home. You can stall, slowing down or stopping trick or treating when you reach a certain amount of candy. And when all else fails and you still end up with excess, donate to a local school or dentist office that raises money for charity or sends the candy back to the troops.
3. Costumes - Can you pull together or make a costume with stuff you already have? I wish this was a skill of mine, but unfortunately it is not. So, I always head to the thrift stores, which are amazing places to be, especially during Halloween. If you still can't find the costume you want, put a request on Facebook. Borrow, share, and collaborate, to resist buying new each year.
4. Pumpkin Tools - Don't fall prey to the latest and greatest pumpkin carving gimmick. Save your tools from year to year. A great pumpkin carving tool and a few quality decorations can be used over and over.
5. Make-up. It's tempting to purchase a new vampire or zombie makeup kit each year. But try not to fall prey to the marketing. The makeup is exactly the same and the tutorials can be found online rather than on the picture on the packaging. Do you already have red lipstick, black eyeliner and green eyeshadow that you can reused as halloween face painting makeup? Can you save the face painting makeup you do buy and reuse it again for a bday party or school play?
5. Wrappers. Most candy comes in very wasteful wrappers that must go to the landfill. These tiny wrappers are usually made up of combination of materials like plastic, foil and paper mixed together, which render them too difficult to recycle. But there is actually some candy that comes in recyclable packaging. Teach your children to sort through their waste at the end of the night and look for cardboard candy packages (like Nerds), or any clear plastic bags (that people fill with small pieces of candy) that can be recycled rather than landfilled. And coming soon, companies like Mars (makers of M&M's and other candy) will soon be using biodegradable wrappers for their candy (already available in Europe). So keep an eye out for innovation in the candy aisle and support biodegradable packaging when you have the choice.
6. Jack-O-Lantern. When its all over and you are packing away the decorations to save for next year, remember to compost that Jack-O-Lantern, so that it can return to the earth and feed our soil with nutrients.
And as always, do your best, then let go. Your best is all you can do.
About Kelly Green Consultant: Hi! I'm Kelly Buskirk. I currently live in Austin, TX, but I first got involved in environmental action when I was living on the island of Kauai, and a landfill was proposed by neighborhood. I made the conscious shift to live a zero waste lifestyle and transform the business I was managing from great, to green! My intention is to tread lightly on the planet, by reducing toxins and waste in my life and help others do the same in their life and business. Join me on my Zero Waste + Green Living quest!
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