Halloween season is upon us! Many of us at Green Venture LOVE Halloween, but we don’t love the waste that comes with it. Here are our favourite easy tips for cutting down on the waste – but not the fun – of Halloween!
In Canada, we grow roughly 80,000 tonnes of pumpkins
each year and most of these are used as decor and then thrown away. It takes a lot of water and other resources to grow all these pumpkins. Did you know that pumpkins are food, and are actually quite tasty? Rather than throwing them away and essentially adding a few to several kilograms to our food waste, give them a try this year if you haven’t before! The seeds can be roasted as a delicious and nutritious snack, and the flesh can be prepared like many other squashes. Some of our favourites are roasted pumpkin, pumpkin soup, and pumpkin loaf.
If you plan on eating your pumpkin this year, it’s important that you don’t let it get moldy. If you are using it as decor first, you can either leave it intact until you are ready to eat it, or, if you are carving it, wait until as close to Halloween as possible.
If you are not eating your pumpkin, consider donating it to a sanctuary or farm for their animals to eat. Check with them first though – many sanctuaries get more pumpkins donated than their animals can eat. If you are not doing any of the above and need to dispose of your pumpkin, be sure to throw it in with your yard waste rather than into your green bin.
Who doesn’t love a nicely decorated home at Halloween? Cut down on waste by getting your decor secondhand and using it year after year. You could also try some fun, easy upcycling projects for DIY decor!
The textile industry is a huge contributor to waste and greenhouse gases. And many Halloween costumes get worn for just one night. That means it is super easy to find affordable, secondhand costumes that have barely been worn! If you’re creative, crafty, or like to sew, you could try a DIY costume using only repurposed items from a thrift store, a buy-sell (or buy nothing) group, or around the house.
Handing Out Treats
If you have ever gone trick-or-treating, every plastic wrapper from every candy you ever ate is still sitting in a landfill. Or worse, buried in a natural space or stuck in a waterway. It is difficult to move away from this tradition completely, and abruptly, but there are things we can do to reduce waste. Here are some things that have worked for some of us at Green Venture:
Give out homemade playdough in repurposed containers
Heather, our Education Program Manager, started handing out playdough during her very public zero waste year and it was a HUGE HIT! Heather included a list of ingredients and her name and address so that parents would know what it was and where it came from. This also makes a great party favour, or a treat just for the kids you know personally. Want to learn how to make your own playdough? Come to our virtual workshop THIS THURSDAY! Register here.
Give out gently-used secondhand books
These were less of a hit, but the handful of kids who chose them were very excited about them. Many thrift stores and consignment stores have shelves upon shelves of gently used children’s books for very reasonable prices.
Choose treats in cardboard instead of plastic
This is not zero waste, and many of these little boxes will end up in the landfill rather than being recycled or composted, but they are a step up from the little plastic wrappers of many other treats. Some people try growing their impact by putting up a fun sign encouraging people to recycle or compost the little boxes!
Buy bulk (packaging-free) candy or make baked goods for kids you know
For the kids in your life whose parents trust you not to sneak anything dangerous into their Halloween treats, skip the packaging by buying in bulk using reusable bags or containers, or make fun Halloween treats using bulk ingredients.
If there are any Trick-or-Treaters in your household, you can reduce waste by using a reusable bag or pillowcase to collect candy. They work just fine as they are, but you could also get crafty and embellish a pillowcase to personalize it or make it more Halloweeny.
Beyond that there isn’t much to be done to reduce trick-or-treating waste, short of skipping it altogether – we can control our own choices and actions, but we do not have control over what our neighbours give out. Our Education Manager Heather doesn’t take her kids trick-or-treating and they all still have a great time at Halloween, but this is a much harder sell for kids who have experienced it before. Her best tip for anyone who would like to give this a try is to make it so much fun that it would never occur to them they are missing out on anything.
Come celebrate the season with us! Get dressed up, carve pumpkins, explore EcoHouse’s gardens & surrounding trails, learn about bats, & more. Take home your pumpkin seeds with instructions on how to roast them. Drink hot, local apple cider. Take photos at our natural fall photo backdrop. Each family will receive a container of our DIY low-waste playdough! Be entered to win eco-friendly door prizes.
Saturday October 30, 10am-12pm
EcoHouse, 22 Veevers Drive, Hamilton
Pay What You Can, suggested donation of $5 for an individual, $3 for a student, or $15 for a family or group of 4
For questions, or to share your own waste-reducing Halloween tips, you can tag us on social media or reach out to our Education Team at firstname.lastname@example.org