Go green for Halloween


Linnaea Mallette, https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

Kelly Hueckman, Opinion Editor

With Halloween right around the corner, many people are eager to jump into the regular seasonal festivities of dressing up, carving jacl-o’lanterns and eating enough candy to feed a small village. 

But behind the grotesque masks and the spooky decorations lurks something much more frightening: the environmental consequences.

Holidays, while usually full of spirit, are notorious for creating waste and having harmful effects on the planet — and Halloween is no exception. With the individually wrapped candies, the new costumes and single-use decorations, the spooky season as we know it isn’t sustainable.

But hold the screams of horror; you can still have fun and be environmentally conscious by following these tips to going green for Halloween.

Beware the shelves

If you’re anything like me, you know how tempting it is to purchase every new seasonal item, whether it be a new decoration, the final part to a costume or the quirkiest fall-themed mug.

But not only does this hurt our wallets, it contributes even more waste to landfills when the season passes or our purchases ultimately break from being

Kelly Hueckman / Advance-Titan — Millions of pounds of rotten pumpkins end up in landfills each year, releasing methane gas and contributing to climate change.

made with cheap materials.

Instead of unnecessarily spending, reconsider whether you really need the latest products and dig into last year’s Halloween items. Each year, plastic trick-or-treat buckets get lost or broken, cheap single-use costumes are sold individually wrapped in plastic and armfuls of damaged decoration are thrown away.

If you really do need to replenish your Halloween stash, avoid plastic and other non-biodegradable materials that can threaten wildlife, contribute to global warming and produce harmful toxins into the environment.

Instead, turn to decorations, costumes and other goods made of sustainable materials that can last for years to come.

Don’t be afraid to DIY

Tap into your creative side and get crafty with what you already have lying around your house to minimize consumption. 

In my experience, the best costumes can come from the back of your closet (and maybe the closets of your family members). Using more quality products that you already own for other occasions gives a more authentic look to costumes, and handmade items add an element of character that store-bought costumes can’t replicate.

DIY Halloween decor can also add a spooky element to your space and will certainly impress guests. 

With a little imagination, an old umbrella can become a set of wings, an empty cereal box can turn into a gravestone and painted soup cans can look eerily like Frankenstein’s monster.

Use the whole pumpkin

Carving pumpkins is a classic Halloween activity that lets people of all ages show their inner monster.

Growing in nature, pumpkins wouldn’t seem like they could have any harm on the environment since they are composed of organic matter.

However, the U.S Department of Energy says most of the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins grown in the U.S end up in landfills because they are thrown away. The disposed pumpkins produce methane gas, which contributes to global warming even more than carbon dioxide. 

You don’t have to quit your jack-o’lantern tradition, but you can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere by using all parts of the pumpkin. Instead of tossing the seeds, save them for a tasty, roasted treat. Use the pumpkin “guts” in your garden for compost or donate them to a local farm. 

Another option would be to dispose of your pumpkin corpses off at a specialized site. Oshkosh has a yard waste drop-off site that collects old pumpkins and other rotted produce.

Having a green Halloween doesn’t mean you need to sit out of all of the seasonal fun. With just a few small changes, you can make sure your actions don’t come back to haunt you.