By Bailey Poe
Boo! Spooky season is among us, so it’s time to bring out your inner horror, but let’s not scare Mother Nature in the process. Halloween is filled with costumes, candy and decorations galore, but all of these things can lead to waste in the environment. You can do the Earth a favor by following some of these ways to go green on Halloween.
When it comes to ordering costumes, there can be a lot of plastic that is wasted in the process. Research by Hubbub, a U.K.-based environmental charity, found that an estimated 2,000 tons of plastic waste are generated from “disposable” Halloween costumes in a single year. That’s the equivalent of 83 million plastic bottles. A great way to avoid the packaging, while also avoiding the ‘fast fashion’ industry, is to create your own Halloween costume with clothes found at a local thrift store.
You’d be surprised by the seemingly infinite selection of clothes and accessories available from various decades. Plus, this also unlocks your creative side and gets you thinking outside of the box.
Sophomore musical theater major Macy Champlin said that she “loves thrifting because it’s the cheapest alternative to buying things fast fashion and gives me so many more options than any other store.”
There are tons of great thrift stores near Rider such as Red White & Blue Thrift, The Goodwill Store, Capital Thrift NJ, The Salvation Army and Green Street Consignment.
Costumes are a blast, but it just wouldn’t be Halloween without the grim grin of a jack-o-lantern; however, these pumpkins can also lead to a lot of unnecessary waste. Another study by Hubbub estimated that eight million pumpkins will be thrown in the trash after Halloween.
The scariest part is that pumpkins do not need to be thrown away at all. Once you are done with your pumpkin, you can save the seeds on the inside for roasting a yummy snack and then put your pumpkins back in nature near you to decompose and give the animals a treat.
When putting pumpkins back in the woods, make sure to smash the pumpkin so that no animal friend will get their head stuck inside. In addition, if you have your own garden, you can let the pumpkin decompose to turn into fresh fertilizer and soil.
Andrew Chojnacki, a junior music education major said that “As a gardener, I always reuse whatever plant materials I grow,” and the process of decomposing “helps next year’s garden because the decaying plant materials gives nutrients back to the soil and attracts animals like worms who fertilize the soil even more.”
Another great option for Halloween is switching the type of candy you give out. Big brand candy companies not only contribute to deforestation, but also their packaging is non-recyclable, and several of the big companies source their cocoa from countries that use child and forced labor to harvest cocoa beans. According to the Food Empowerment Project, a vegan food justice organization, big brand companies such as Hershey’s and Nestle source their cocoa beans from West African countries that use child and slave labor. Try an organic alternative that has fair trade labor practices, incorporates Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) and candy that has recyclable packaging. ESG is an evaluation of conscientiousness for environmental and social factors within any firm. As for trick or treating, make sure to bring a reusable bag or pillowcase with you.
Happy Halloween, and have a fun spooky season going green!
Bailey Poe, Rider eco-rep
Originally printed in the 10/27/21 issue.