Halloween is coming up; how do I make sure that mine is green?
At large, Halloween is a very wasteful holiday. Fun, of course, but wasteful. Especially in college, this time of the year tends to be full of several costumes, hundreds of pieces of individually wrapped candies and an abundance of ~aluminum drink cans~. If you’re sustainably minded, events like this can be vaguely troubling. How can I enjoy celebrating this holiday which I love so much without having a massive jump in my product consumption? It does not always seem easy.
To SOME extent, I believe that it is necessary for us to forgive ourselves for creating waste. It’s unfair that we must limit ourselves from enjoying things that we like just because they maybe are not zero-waste or perfectly sustainable. To SOME extent.
Having the mindset of, “other people are out there treating the earth worse than me, if I don’t buy this item with excessive packaging someone will anyway, etc” does not mean that we are allowed to just absolve our guilt and move on. The context of Halloween is a great time to exemplify how we can enjoy October without being crazy un-sustainable.
In the spirit of “Halloweekend”, a lot of folks need several costumes to make it through the spooky season. (I know that I sound like an old person that is just talking about what I think college is like, just ignore it). It is both economically and environmentally sensible to try and make costumes out of items that you already own. This tends to be a minimum-effort, minimum-payoff type of costume, which isn’t always a bad thing. If you have to do a little bit of DIY or crafting, that also works! It takes a little bit more effort than ordering an outfit off of Amazon, but that’s more fun anyways, right?
Generally, if you decide you do have to purchase elements of your costumes, it is best not to buy new. There are many second-hand, vintage and thrift stores in and around DC which are full of hundreds of pieces. Suddenly, the trope that everything at a thrift store is old and dated is a good thing! You can make a head to toe 90s look with no effort and little money by spending just a few seconds in the clothing section. Plus, lots of these stores even have a specific Halloween section with second-hand costumes. I’ve been to at least three vintage stores in the DMV that had dozens of costumes for under $10. An event BETTER option would be trading your own old costumes with friends, because this is obviously free.
When it comes to candy, it is much trickier to reduce waste. That bulk bag of 500 candies from CVS looks tempting to me every time I see it. But if you’re just buying for yourself and your roommates, buying chocolate that doesn’t all come in individual wrappers is a better choice. If you need to go for small candies, choose ones that have recyclable packaging! There aren’t many, but Hershey’s kisses are one example.
If you decided to get a pumpkin for your dorm, get it from a local grower. This is a much better option than grabbing one from the grocery store, especially if you make a day of it and go out of DC to a pumpkin patch or orchard. If you go for a larger sized one, you can eat the pumpkin seeds and compost the rest.
At the end of the day, celebrating Halloween in college is very different than celebrating it in the suburbia that many of us come from. It is not hard to be more sustainable during holidays like this, it just takes a little bit of thought and some inspiration! And of course please recycle your ~aluminum drink cans~. Happy Halloween!