Halloween can be a plastic nightmare, but the good news is you can still plan a fun celebration without polluting the planet with spooky, scary plastic. Plastic Pollution Coalition Youth Ambassador Eva Geierstanger and Co-Founder and CEO Dianna Cohen have lots of tips and treats for a fun, more sustainable Halloween—including plastic-free trick-or-treating, costumes, decorations, and Halloween recipes! Find out more in their conversation below.
Eva: I want to be able to enjoy Halloween, one of my favorite holidays, without the added fear that my celebration is causing horrifying harm to the environment and our own health. After all, plastic pollution impacts human health along with that of wildlife. It’s so important that we look beyond these wicked and wasteful traditions to make Halloween both fun and sustainable!
Eva: With Halloween right around the corner, I’ve been eyeing the candy aisle at my local grocery store. I mean, who doesn’t love candy, especially FREE candy from trick-or-treating and Halloween parties? But as I look around at the bags of assorted chocolates, gummies, and lollipops, all that I can think of is the scary amount of plastic single-use packaging being used.
Dianna: Halloween is a fun holiday for children and adults alike, but the single-use plastic left behind from parties and Trick-or-Treating can be downright scary.
According to the cleanup and brand audit report from Break Free From Plastic, food wrappers, made by companies such as Nestlé and Mars Inc., are among the top items found on beaches and in communities across the world. Plastic food wrappers are not recycled, and the ones that end up in our landfills will stay there forever, like ghosts of Halloween past.
When it comes to treats, consider alternatives to plastic-wrapped candy. There are lots of candies still made and wrapped in wax paper and cardboard boxes, many of which come in mini sizes or may be purchased in bulk including: salt-water taffy, Dots, Nerds, Good and Plenty, Runts, Pixie Stix, Banana Splits, BB Bats, Wax Candy, Milk Duds, and Junior Mints and even mini chocolate bars wrapped in foil and paper! I found a bunch of these at Old Time Candy.
Other Treat ideas include non-food items like pencils, word search or crossword puzzle books, seed packets, and bracelets – these are small gifts with purpose!
Eva: And how about ditching your plastic treat buckets for a cloth bag or tote? You could even customize it to match with your costume!
Eva: Speaking of costumes, there are so many ways to reduce your Halloween waste this year by making them yourself (DIY)!
Dianna: YES, Are you a fan of well-made and stylish vintage fashion? Well I am and I often start out by going through my closet at home to see what might make a solid costume. If that fails, I head to a nearby thrift store. I have frequented thrift stores since I was a teenager, always looking for treasures. A second-hand store is a great place to find elements for a Halloween costume.
Eva: For sure! Also, if you’re looking for something fancy this Halloween, consider renting a costume. Or, get crafty! Make your own costume out of cardboard, paper, or even felt! Make your costume extra fun, by wearing eco-friendly and non-toxic face paint, or make your own.
Dianna: That’s great, it’s important we surround ourselves with items that are good for us and good for the planet so that we don’t become the next climate horror story.
Dianna: What about all those flimsy plastic decorations? The only thing scary about those is how harmful they are to our earth.
Eva: Exactly! That’s why this year I’m excited to use real stuff like pumpkins and festive leaf cut-outs to create a spooky, yet eco-friendly, atmosphere. One thing that my family does every year is carve pumpkins into Jack-o’-lanterns for decorations and we roast and eat the seeds afterward. Once the Halloween season comes to an end, the best thing to do is to compost your pumpkin.
Dianna: When it comes to fall foods, don’t you love to make real stuff? Find a pumpkin and make tasty pumpkin soup! Have you seen the recipes for little mummies (pigs in a blanket), and the Cauliflower brain with red pepper hummus dip recipe from Kathryn Kellogg? Or how about these creepy witch finger cookies?
Eva: Little mummies are a must. I am definitely planning to make my own treats, including a spooky vegetable platter. Making plastic-free and healthy Halloween snacks is a great way to keep your Halloween possé fueled for Trick-or-Treating or that horror movie binge.
Dianna: Now that we have all these treats and tips to remove plastic from our candy, costumes, decorations and snacks, I think we’re set for a spooktacular Halloween!