Plastic Kills! Horror Short Film Contest

Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S) and Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) are now accepting submissions for “PLASTIC KILLS!”—a horror short film competition designed to highlight the terrors of plastic pollution and its toxic effects on our bodies, our children, our pets, and our planet.

Mutilated bodies! Melted brains! When it comes to killers, no one and nothing is quite as demented, as twisted, as prolific as…PLASTIC! Eat your heart out, Freddy Krueger. (But be warned: there’s probably plastic in it.)

Plastic pollution and microplastics haunt every aspect of life on earth. Plastics have been found in the stomachs of whales, fish, and birds. Microplastics have been found in human blood, hearts, lung tissue, placentas, and even breast milk. Plastic pollution has unfortunately become a permanent part of beaches and shorelines, with more washing up daily, like ghosts hauntingly reminding us of industries’ out-of-control plastic production. The plastic pollution horrors persist, but if we collectively work to highlight these issues, we can Flip the Script on Plastics and work towards a plastic-free future.

How It Works

Tell whatever story you want in a short 1-3 minute horror film. The tone can be straight horror, comedic horror, thriller, or suspense; just remember, we’re dealing with a killer here.

There is no entry fee. The deadline for submissions is Friday, October 13, 2023. The winning film will be awarded $2,000. HH&S and PPC will announce the winner on Halloween, October 31, 2023. 

To enter, visit the PLASTIC KILLS SHORT FILM COMPETITION portal 

Rules and Guidelines

The short film must highlight the horrors and/or toxic effects of plastic and plastic pollution in a creative way.

• All submissions must pass The Begley-Cohen Test, meaning:

(1) No single-use plastics appear on screen (i.e., the film/show is set in a time with no plastic, or plastics are replaced with refillable, reusable, or package-free options), or…

(2) If a single-use plastic item appears on screen, it is portrayed or discussed as problematic.

Horror or horror-adjacent genres only: The tone should be fitting for Halloween. 

1–3 minutes total run time.

• Films must be submitted in .mp4 files.

Original, scripted material only. Documentaries, “unscripted” content, montages, reels, or trailers will not be accepted.

• Films must be in English or subtitled in English.

Submissions

• Entrants must submit the following materials through the online submission form

▫ .mp4 file of film completed and available for online viewing by the time the contest period ends.

▫ One sentence logline for the film.

Awards

Grand Prize Winner receives:

• Cash prize of $2,000

• Special invitation to the Hollywood, Health & Society Sentinel Awards in Los Angeles, California

• Special invitation to a Plastic Pollution Coalition VIP event in Los Angeles, California, in May 2024

• Film screening during the annual Hollywood, Health & Society Sentinel Awards, attended by press and entertainment industry professionals

Top Five Finalists Receive:

• Plastic Pollution Coalition plastic-free swag bag

• Promotion and shares across Plastic Pollution Coalition and Hollywood, Health & Society newsletters, pages, and social channels

Judging Panel

Jack Bender – Producer and Director: Lost, Child’s Play 3, From

Ian Brennan – Executive Producer: Dahmer, The Watcher, Scream Queens 

Alan DiFiore – Co-Executive Producer: Grimm, The Expanse

Esteban Gast – Comedian, recently named as one of Grist’s 50 Fixers

Paul Grellong – Executive Producer and Writer: The Boys, Revolution, Hawaii Five-O

John Herrera – Writer and Producer: Handmaid’s Tale, The Purge

Liv Hewson – Actor: Yellowjackets, Santa Clarita Diet, Under My Skin

Peyton List – Actor: School Spirits, Cobra Kai, Light as a Feather

Jill Mazursky – Producer and Writer: Exposure, Gone Fishin’, Golf Punks

Jonathan Penner – Writer and Actor: The Bye Bye Man, Let the Devil Wear Black, Horror Cinema

Paula Poundstone – Comedian and Author: Home Movies, Inside Out, Hyperspace

Sean Reycraft – Co-Executive Producer and Writer: Mayfair Witches, Coroner, Killjoys, Vampire Diaries

Paul Robinson – Mixed media, photography based artist 

Sarah Yarkin – Actor: School Spirits, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Happy Death Day 2 U

Resources:

Inspiration:

Learn More & Get Involved

Learn more about Flip the Script on Plastics, including additional resources and latest news on how we’re helping Hollywood eliminate single-use plastics from sets and storylines. To get involved with our initiative, contact Amelia@PlasticPollutionCoalition.org.

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Halloween is a holiday best known for being fun, spooky, and, frighteningly, filled with lots and lots of plastic. There’s nothing fun about plastic, though it is commonly used to make Halloween costumes, masks, candy wrappers, decorations, toys, and makeup. Plastic harms both the environment and human health. It contains hazardous chemicals, and causes injustice and pollution all over the world. Now that’s truly scary!

But Halloween doesn’t have to be a wasteful, unjust, and unhealthy nightmare. Solutions to plastic pollution exist. Thankfully, there are lots of Halloween traditions we can continue to partake in and enjoy…just without the plastic! 

Here are Plastic Pollution Coalition’s top five tips for eliminating plastic from your spooky festivities this Halloween season:

1. Make treats from scratch:

Caramel apple by Joshua Ganderson (Flickr)

It wouldn’t be Halloween without the treats. Unfortunately, most Halloween delicacies are wrapped in toxic, single-use plastic packaging that pollutes the environment and our bodies. Make your own Halloween candies, baked goods, and other sweets from scratch to cut out the plastic:

  • The key to plastic-free Halloween treats is to keep it simple. Recipes with few ingredients and steps can help spare you of plastic packaging. Not to mention, simplicity can make it quick, easy, and affordable to create your own Halloween sweets. Think: vegan caramel apples made with wooden sticks or twigs from your garden. Or beet-colored red velvet cupcakes baked without liners in nontoxic glass or ceramic baking pans (these can be made vegan as well). And spooky sugar cookies made with plastic-free icing sugar.
  • Shop for unprocessed, whole ingredients whenever possible: Find reuse and refill shops near you where you can bring your own bags and containers to stock up with loose, unpackaged foods. When that is not possible, seek out local shops where it’s possible to purchase foods in bulk and/or in packaging other than plastic. Good packaging alternatives include nontoxic paper, metal, glass, bamboo, algae, banana leaves, and other materials.
  • Be mindful of chemicals in the kitchen: Did you know that many cupcake liners, baking trays, pots, pans, spatulas, and other common tools commonly contain plastics and toxic chemicals known to harm human health and the environment, like PFAS? Opt for non-toxic, naturally anti-microbial materials like bamboo and some stainless steel, wood, glass, and ceramic.

2. Create a costume from reused materials

With a little creativity, you can turn used clothing, newspapers, cardboard, and other cheap or free plastic-free materials into awesome Halloween costumes. Most commercially sold costumes—and in fact much clothing made and sold today—is manufactured with plastic fibers like nylon, polyester, polyamide, and acrylic. These plastics rapidly shed toxic microfibers into the environment and our bodies. Play with non-toxic and plastic-free cosmetics when putting on your best Halloween face.

Not only is making your own plastic-free costume cheaper, more sustainable, and healthier than buying one, it’s also more fun:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CkDqDDYuZMq/

3. Choose degradable decorations

Typically, Halloween decorations such as fake spiderwebs, glowing pumpkins, and inflatables, are made of polluting plastic. And most plastic Halloween decorations are either used just once, or once a year. 

Keep plastic and toxins away from your home this Halloween without sacrificing any of your fall vibe by adorning with biodegradable items! If farms exist in your area, pay a visit to find pumpkins and other gourds, as well as dried corn, hay bales, and other beautiful and natural seasonal decorations. Dried leaf wreaths, scarecrows, and other plastic-free decorations can turn a fall afternoon of yard cleanup into fun touches for your yard or home.

Carve a pumpkin, and save and toast the seeds in your oven with salt and oil for healthy snacking this Halloween, or save and plant them in your garden next spring. If carving is not your thing, you can also paint your pumpkins with non-toxic, plastic-free paints, such as tempera. Once those pumpkins are looking mushy, throw them in your compost pile or donate them to a wildlife rescue or refuge that accepts uncarved Halloween pumpkins to feed animals in need.

4. Trick-or-treat without waste

Instead of filling up your trick-or-treat bowl with the usual plastic-wrapped, bite-sized candies, consider supplying your neighborhood kids with plastic-free treats. Bulk candy or homemade candy distributed in decorated paper bags can be a good option if you’re familiar with the people coming to your door this Halloween. Other ideas include giving out small change instead of candy, offering fruit in peels or rinds (like oranges or apples). 

If you’re out on a trick-or-treating route, use cloth or canvas bags (such as ours!), or even a cotton pillowcase or sewn-up t-shirt works as a plastic-free treat receptacle. Remember to hydrate as you scour your neighborhood for the best tricks and treats: bring a reusable stainless steel water bottle with you on your rounds. 

5. Party plastic-free

Everyone loves a good Halloween costume party! As we’ve covered, asking your friends to wear their best homemade get-ups, decorating with degradable materials, and preparing plastic-free treats and other tasty foods to celebrate the season are great ways to cut the plastic out of Halloween without losing any of the fun. 

When setting up your plastic-free Halloween party, choose reusable plastic-free utensils, dishes, cups, straws, and other foodware over single-use options. In lieu of gifts or goodie bags, offer homemade treats or D.I.Y. crafts or plastic-free reusables (like straws made of stainless steel or other non-plastic, non-toxic materials) in paper bags, or on a tray or plate.

Have a healthy, happy, plastic-free Halloween!

Find more tips for a plastic-free Halloween in this conversation between Plastic Pollution Coalition Youth Ambassador Eva Geierstanger and Co-Founder and CEO Dianna Cohen.

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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! 


TRICK-OR-TREATING

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!


COSTUMES

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. 


DECORATIONS

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.


HALLOWEEN RECIPES

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!

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One of the scariest things about Halloween is all of the plastic waste it generates. From plastic decorations to plastic masks to plastic candy wrappers to synthetic costumes… the environmental impact of Halloween is truly frightening.

This year we challenge you to use real stuff and make real stuff because we know it is possible to enjoy the spooky season without all of the terrifying plastic waste.

Check out these plastic-free DIY ideas and SHARE your ideas with us by tagging @plasticpollutes on Instagram.

1. DIY Fabric Pumpkin from Fat Quarter Shop

We absolutely love this DIY Fabric Pumpkin from Fat Quarter Shop! It is such a wholesome, festive decoration that works well for both Halloween and for Fall in general. Check out the tutorial here.

2. Scary Edibles, You’re Gourdeous Veggie Dip Tray, The Zombie Mummy Sausage Roll Family, Spiderberries, & Halloween Edibles from @foodbites:

When it comes to adorable and seasonal food inspiration, @foodbites is one of our absolute favorites. We enjoyed so many of their Halloween ideas we couldn’t pick just one.

Scary Edibles

*cucumber and cantaloupe skulls

*blueberry centipedes

*watermelon abominable snowman

*watermelon skeletons

*watermelon voodoo dolls

*watermelon ghosts

*white chocolate & pretzel mummies

*cantaloupe & chocolate Book on 2020

*white chocolate & pretzel spiderwebs

You’re Gourdeous Veggie Dip Tray

The Zombie Mummy Sausage Roll Family

Spiderberries

Halloween Edibles

*Strawberry Ghosts

*Cheddar and Pretzel Brooms

*Pretzel Vampires

*Mini Pepper Frankensteins

3. Skull String Art from @abeautifulmess

This stunning skull string art idea is one of the most popular DIY Halloween decorations sisters @elsielarson and @emmaredvelvet have ever made. We can’t say that we’re too surprised–are you?

4. Felt Ghosty Yarn Garland from @lunabeehive

Christen Glenn, the crafty gal behind @lunabeehive, creates absolute WONDERS with felt. And while most of her work is way out of our league, we are confident that we might actually be able to replicate this adorable DIY Halloween garland.

5. Book Page Pumpkin from @creationsbykara

Though most of Kara’s creations are culinary, it turns out she also has some tricks up her sleeve when it comes to crafting DIY Halloween decor. Check out her step-by-step tutorial for how to make this adorable Book Page Pumpkin.

6. DIY Ghost Windsock from Chicken Scratch NY

We love to see how creative people get with materials they find around the house. This DIY Ghost Winsock from Chicken Scratch NY is such a fun way to upcycle a tin can.

7. Paper mâché pumpkin piñatas

Trick-or-treating might not be possible this year, but you can still have fun with your family by making your own paper mâché piñatas using strips of newspaper and a paste made of flour, water, and salt. Here is a tutorial. Decorate the outside to make it look like a pumpkin, fill with treats, and hang with a fabric ribbon. These pumpkin piñatas are fully compostable once the tissue paper decorations are removed. Happy Halloween!

Join our global Coalition.

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 a new cleanup and brand audit report from Break Free From Plastic, food wrappers, made by companies such as Nestlé, are among the top items founds 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. 

Do not despair, you can still plan a fun celebration with less waste. Read our best tips for a plastic-free Halloween below.

1. Forgo the plastic treat bucket. A cloth bag works for Trick-or-Treating and can be reused again and again.

2. Choose a plastic-free costume. Avoid costumes made with PVC/vinyl, which are more likely to be contaminated with chemicals called phthalates. Phthalates can disrupt your endocrine system… Scary, indeed! Make your own costume from natural fabrics, repurpose items you already own, or visit a thrift store for the perfect outfit. Celebrating Día de Muertos? Use nontoxic makeup to create the perfect look.

3. Consider an alternative to plastic-wrapped candy. Choose candy in paper boxes or make parents everywhere happy by handing out apples (in season now), small oranges, or art supplies like pencils and crayons. Even better: recycle old crayons into colorful new crayons using this easy method. If your Trick-or-Treaters are friends or acquaintances, you could give out homemade Halloween cookies in a paper bag. 

4. Use Real Stuff. Decorate your home with pumpkins, gourds, and autumn leaves. Use leaves like paper to make festive cut outs. Carve pumpkins into Jack-o’-lanterns for spooky decorations—you can even roast and eat the seeds. After Halloween, compost your pumpkins.

5. Throw a Green (and Orange) Party. Hosting a party? Just say no to “disposable” plates and cups. Use your own cups and dishes and wash them afterward. Use real forks and spoons or for an easier option, serve finger foods. Get creative with your Halloween-themed food (shrunken head cider, anyone?)

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Halloween and The Day of Dead are holidays celebrated by families and children around the world, but the plastic trash created for the festivities can be totally terrifying. Have no fear, Break Free From Plastic member groups UPSTREAM, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Ecology Center have collected the best solutions, tricks, and treats below.

Halloween Tips & Tricks

  1. Forgo the plastic treat bucket. A reusable cloth bag or basket works for Trick-or-Treating and can be reused again and again.

  2. Choose a plastic-free costume. Avoid costumes made with PVC/vinyl, which are more likely to be contaminated with chemicals called phthalates. Phthalates can disrupt your endocrine system… Scary, indeed! Make your own costume from natural fabrics, repurpose items you already own, or visit a thrift store for the perfect outfit.

  3. Use Real Stuff. Decorate your home with pumpkins, gourds, and autumn leaves. Use leaves like paper to make festive cut outs. Carve pumpkins into Jack-o’-lanterns for spooky decorations—you can even roast and eat the seeds. After Halloween, compost your pumpkin.

  4. Throw a Green (and Orange) Party. Hosting a party? Skip “disposable” plates and cups. Use your own cups and dishes and wash them afterward. Use real forks and spoons or for an easier option, serve finger foods.

  5. Serve party treats without a side of trash. Caramel apples, served on compostable parchment paper, can be skewered on sticks from your yard. Arrange sliced black olives in the shape of a spider on top of your deviled eggs. Halloween-themed cupcakes can be made in compostable paper cups or reusable silicone cupcake liners.

  6. Plunge into Pinterest! A wealth of creative Zero Waste Halloween ideas can be found on this Pinterest board assembled by Kathryn Kellogg of GoingZeroWaste.com, including Frankenstein kiwi, ghost bananas, and Franken-guac!

  7. Handle the Halloween Hangover. Your trick-or-treating kids will inevitably return with a hefty haul of trashy candy. For those hard-to-recycle candy wrappers, you can purchase one of Terracycle’s candy-and-snack-wrapper Zero Waste boxes, stuff it with candy wrappers, and ship it back for recycling.

  8. Keep your face paint pure. Researchers found heavy metals in almost half of 48 different Halloween face paints they tested. Other ingredients like parabens, formaldehyde, and dioxins belong nowhere near your face. Safer brands exist!

11 Tips for Trick-or-Treaters

Here are some fun ideas for those witches and dinosaurs who show up at your door.

  1. For the Fancy Festers… Have you ever heard of Alter-Eco Truffles? These non-GMO chocolate truffles come wrapped in compostable packaging made from eucalyptus and birch bark with non-toxic ink. If you’ve got about 75 cents to spend per truffle, you’ll be sure to have the most lavish chocolate on the block–without the pollution!

  2. For the Old School Tricksters… When was the last time you went to your local candy shop? Why not buy candy the old school way in bulk and hand it out in your own fun, festive way? Mystery bags are always spooky fun, and you (and your kids!) could have a blast decorating recycled paper bags with ghosts and question marks.

  3. For the Classic Candy-Givers Who Want to Keep it Classy… There are still many main-shelf candies packaged in mini cardboard boxes, like Milk Duds, Junior Mints, Dots, Nerds, or even raisins! The boxes can be recycled if clean and composted if dirty.

  4. For the Metal Heads… A few foil-wrapped candies – Hershey’s kisses, gold coins – have recyclable foil wrappers that you can recycle if you ball them up. The bigger the ball, the more likely they’ll be recycled. If a wrapper can’t be crumpled up into a ball and bounces back instead, then it’s mixed with plastic and can’t be recycled.

  5. For the Green Thumbs… Seeds are a stellar alternative to handing out high-fructose corn syrup. Instead of offering candy that will be gone in an instant in packaging that will last forever, why not offer children something that can grow with them?

  6. For the Tooth Fairies.. Small change is a big excitement! Have fun dishing out good luck pennies, and bonus points for dressing up as the Tooth Fairy!

  7. For the Practical Partakers… You really can’t go wrong with a pencil and/or erasers – it is something kids use at school and at home, so you’re not creating waste with this one!

  8. For the Treasure Hunters… Sure Charlie Brown complained about getting rocks at every house, but imagine being the ONLY house with rocks! You can find all kinds of treats from nature, from stones to seashells to feathers for trick-or-treaters. This can offer the adventurous spirit of just coming back from a hike, only dressed in unicorn horns and panda suits.

  9. For the La Croix Buffs… We all know how thirsty an ordeal trick-or-treating house to house can be. Your house can be the saving grace of the neighborhood that shares a refreshing beverage with the kids. Aluminum is one of the few materials that can be recycled again and again, so why not share some Peach Pear La Croix cans with the kids, or even lemonade or iced tea?

  10. For the Punny Ones… Who wants to say, “Orange you glad you stopped here?!” Citrus fruits like mandarins and tangerines have their own natural packaging and something Halloween overwhelmingly lacks – nutritional value. And if you go with the natural packaging theme and start handing out avocados, please let us know so we add your house to our route!

  11. For the Crafty Wizards… What better time of year to show off your origami skills than the one day a year children come to your house and expect a treat? Have fun with cats, crabs, dragonflies, and cranes, and bonus points if you hand out step-by-step “How To” guides for the kiddos who can continue the fun long after the holiday is over.

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