It's a community-oriented, fun-loving holiday that unites neighbourhoods and brings out the kid in all of us. What's not to love about Halloween?! We ourselves have the fondest memories of dressing up in costumes and trick-or-treating, and as we introduce our children to the same wonderful experiences we now do so with eyes open.
The waste produced every year by the few hours-long holiday is staggering. On average, one trick-or-treater produces one pound of waste just from chocolate and candy wrappers. Add to that a one-time use costume and plastic mask or accessories and the whole evening seems like a sustainability nightmare. Without wanting to toss Halloween completely, and acknowledging the value of the shared experience, childhood wonder and community benefit, we propose these options for a sustainable Halloween.
Think about what you already have
Shop your home! Look at your child's closet, yours, or the closets of relatives. Older relatives are usually your best bet, as they might have pieces from decades ago, or iconic items such as fur coats or gowns. Use dance or skating leotards for fairy or princess costumes. Adult's clothing such as ties, blazers, or sports jerseys are perfect for dressing as a grown up or professional athlete.
When you can't find clothing for a costume, buy secondhand items with no carbon footprint. Remember, buying used is like a re-set for clothing, shoes, and accessories! Hit up your local thrift store to find old uniforms, funky fashion, or even recycled costumes.
Borrow around you
Ask around and don't be shy about borrowing a costume! Borrowing an costume for an hour of trick-or-treating, rather than buying something is certainly the most budget-friendly, as even secondhand costumes can add up. Chances are that in your circle of friends and family, there are other kids who still have their costumes from years past. Many families keep costumes out year-round for imaginative play, so ask a friend if you can look through their collection.
If you can't find anything to wear at home, from friends, or secondhand, try your hand at creating something for the occasion. DIY costumes used to be the norm! Though few of us have the sewing skills of our moms or grandmothers, most of us have cardboard boxes, scissors and markers at home, which is all you need for a Robot costume or bespoke mask. String and a hot glue gun will do for a wig if you costume needs one. An old pair of nylons stuffed with anything soft makes a convincing tail for an animal, and gluing cardboard triangles to a headband gives you instant cat ears. Basically, there's a lot that can be done with a few materials and your own two hands!
Beyond the costume
In the vein of using what you have, resist the urge to buy Halloween-themed baskets or bags for trick-or-treating and use the classic pillowcase or reusable shopping bag. At the end of the day it's all just a vessel for sugar, so why buy a new item that will just end up in a landfill someday? Likewise, use an old bed sheet or painting drop sheet stuffed with leaves for a spooky ghost instead of plastic decorations. Even your pumpkin is reusable! Jack-O-lanterns on October 31st can become pumpkin pie on November 1st. Baking a whole pumpkin is really easy and you can use the puree for pasta sauces, smoothies, or the classic pie.
At Mini-Cycle, our goal is to use what we have for as long as possible, to avoid unnecessary buying, and to create a circular economy where more is shared than wasted. That's true for us every day of the year, including Halloween! We can cherish traditions like Halloween with our children and still be mindful of our impact on the environment. The spookiest thing of all is that there is no Planet B.