With Halloween fast approaching, many of us are gearing up for pumpkin carving, costume parties, and trick or treating. These all offer a great deal of classic Halloween fun, and perhaps a hint of nostalgia for those of us celebrating our 35th (okay, maybe our 40th) Halloween. We’d like to offer some tips and suggestions for making this particular celebration more thoughtful & less wasteful while maintaining the whimsical, spooky and scary elements we all love.
Most of us don’t realize it, but pumpkin waste is astronomical after Halloween. Pumpkins are a significant food source in much of the world. However, of the 2 billion or so pounds of pumpkin grown each year in North America, most do not get composted. Rather an estimated 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkin end up in landfills, as opposed to being eaten or composted. This creates a burden not only on our waste management systems, but is also a stark reminder of how wasteful we can be in the name of festivity. Fortunately there are some incredibly simple ways to extend the usefulness of a pumpkin when it’s Jack-O-Lantern light burns out.
- Roast the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are delicious and nutritious when roasted, and make an incredibly easy and school-safe snack. Check out this simple recipe from Oh She Glows.
- A staple food in many countries, pumpkin is highly nutritious and incredibly tasty. It is also loaded with vitamin A, fibre, and iron. This Plantain & Pumpkin Curry is so good, you’ll never look at pumpkins the same way again!
- Pumpkin is a superfood for your pup! Uncarved pumpkins, or pumpkins carved the day of, can easily be baked and fed to dogs as a highly nutritious snack. Great to soothe stomachs - especially if Fido found your candy stash.
- Pigs, pigs, pigs! Many local farms will happily accept pumpkin donations. This is a wonderful way to recycle your Halloween decor and support local farmers. Check your community guidelines for farms accepting donations, and ensure you are following all safety protocols.
- Composting is the best option if nothing above suits your needs. Simply cut your punpkin up and place it in your local compost bin, or in your backyard compost.
- Bonus - save a few seeds and grow your own pumpkins next year!
To Trick-or-Treat, or Not?
How many times has your dentist told you all that sugar will rot your teeth? It certainly doesn’t need repeating, but we must insist that all that sugar will rot your teeth! While that may not be enough incentive to forgo the trick-or-treating altogether, consider a different impact that all that candy may be having. That bag or bucket filled with individually wrapped treats is doing our planet no favours. It is an environmental nightmare when considering the candy industry rakes in over 4.6 billion dollars each year from these teeny tiny plastic wrapped goodies. These wrappers are so small most of them do not meet standards for municipal recycling facilities. So, what can we do?
- Organize a community costume parade instead. Have each household bring their own homemade treats, pull up some lawn chairs, and make a runway on the road! The second best part of the celebration is dressing up and showing off your costume.
- Be the house that hands out the full-sized candy bars. The wrappers for those are much more likely to end up getting recycled due to their size, and as a bonus, the chance that you’ll be staring down a TP-covered tree the next morning is much less likely.
- Pool together with your community to acquire a Terracycle Candy & Snack Wrappers Zero Waste Box. This gives you peace of mind that the wrappers are making it to a facility where they will be properly recycled.
- There are many historical haunted homes & buildings in Ontario. Check out this handy link for more info, and book yourself a day trip to a haunted building, or a nighttime adventure if you’re feeling brave. We’ll be exploring these historic haunted houses a little bit more in an upcoming post.
Who hasn’t coveted the “Best Costume” award at a school dance or Halloween party? While there is an innate desire to be the scariest, the most jaw-dropping, the most clever, or the most shocking, it is crucial to be aware of the impact our one-night-outfits will have on the environment, and those who will see us in them. Keep in mind that social media can circulate any image at a frightening rate.
- Opt for homemade, borrowed, or thrifted. Homemade and borrowed costumes have the lowest impact on the planet. No new materials need to be created, and no single-use fabrics end up in the landfill two weeks later. Thrifting allows pieces to have a second lease on life. Better yet, choose pieces that you can work into your wardrobe whenever possible.
- Be mindful. The unfortunate truth is that we still need this reminder. Choosing a costume that portrays a cultural or racial stereotype, body-shaming or objectification, transphobic or homophobic, animal cruelty, or mental illness are never acceptable.
We hope that some of these tips and tricks resonate with you! We encourage you to tray a few. It is our hope that bringing consideration to the forefront is what will ultimately move us forward towards sustainable and mindful celebrations for the future.
Until next time,
Stray & Wander