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10 ways to make your Halloween sustainable

pumpkin patch
October 27, 2014

Last year Americans bought over 1 billion pounds of pumpkins, sent around 85 percent of textiles to the landfill and ate 598 million pounds of candy to celebrate Halloween.

Halloween, like other holidays, is often fraught with over-consumptive behavior and waste. But you can be less impactful and still have fun. The team behind the Global Sustainability Solutions Services, a program of Arizona State University’s Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, has some great ideas to make your Halloween more sustainable.

1. Support an Arizona farmer. If you have to have a pumpkin, consume smart by buying from a local farmer. Chances are the pumpkin you buy at a grocery store has been shipped thousands of miles, off-putting more carbon dioxide than your trip to a nearby farm.

2. Skip the pumpkin-carving. Decorate the outside of your pumpkin to preserve the innards for roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin muffins or pumpkin pie. You could even jump on the bandwagon and juice your pumpkin for cancer-preventing carotenoids.

3. Re-invent the costume. This year the average American is predicted to spend roughly $80 on a single, often non-biodegradable (and flammable) Halloween costume. Save your hard-earned cash and the environment by swapping costumes with friends or family. Secondhand stores like Goodwill are a great place to find costume supplies on the cheap, and your money is put toward giving local job-seekers the skills they need to find careers.

4. Divert candy wrappers from the landfill. Because of their hard-to-recycle composition, wrappers from those 598 million pounds of candy end up in the landfill or littered across your neighborhood. Do your part by collecting the wrappers and sending them to Terracycle, where they can be turned into new products.

5. Make your own decorations. Covering your house in fake spider webs and ghastly ghouls is fun, but you also don’t want to cover your home in flammable, off-gassing, synthetic materials. Instead, make a spider web out of a reclaimed grill rack or turn a recycled milk jug into a light-up ghoul.

6. Get to know your neighbors. Don’t get in the car and drive somewhere to trick or treat; save the gas and go door-to-door the old-fashioned way. Consider throwing a neighborhood block party with homemade treats, potluck-style.

7. Paint your face with non-toxic ingredients. Just like costumes, Halloween makeup is chock-full of ingredients you can’t pronounce, let alone shouldn’t put on your body. Try this homemade, food-based recipe instead.

8. Go old school. Turn a pillowcase, canvas tote or an old T-shirt into a trick-or-treat bag.

9. Light the way. LEDS are brighter and more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent lights for sidewalks, paths and decorations.

10. Don’t be an energy vampire. Electronics you think are off are still technically drawing juice from the grid while plugged in, also called “vampire energy.” The NRDC has a bunch of tips to save money and energy all year long.