Enciby Enci

Making Halloween Less Scary for the Planet

Halloween can be a scary day for the eco-conscious. Candy wrappers, plastic masks, rubber toys, displays made out of vinyl, plastic bags and decoration. The landfills are getting fat from the October celebrations.

There are lots of great ways to avoid waste entirely, if one looks back at old traditions, if one takes an example of how our grandparents celebrated.

COSTUME:
In the old days, the costumes were sewn from old clothes that weren’t used anymore. And, of course, grandma could sew really well and made every costume look great. Or not. Why does it have to look great anyway? Halloween is for scaring people, so it’s perfectly okay to scare them with bad patches, bad stitches, holes and a raggedy-looking costume. I personally think it would be a blast to sit together with friends on a Saturday and sew costumes for Halloween.

You should also try thrift stores if you are not into making your own costume or find some on the FreeCycleNetwork or on Craigslist. I’m not trying to discourage consumerism (yeah, maybe I am a bit especially if it’s made overseas), but I want to discourage from stuff ending up in the landfill. So, if you can buy or get used items, you will still benefit your community and reduce trash at the same time.

If you Google homemade halloween costume, you will get lots of great ideas and tips on how to look your best without scaring Mother Earth.

BLOOD EFFECT:
Use natural dyes for your scary looks. When we use chemical dyes in our clothes, not only is it bad for us (we breathe it all in and it gets into our bloodstream through our pores), but also when the clothes gets tossed, the dye will leak into the ground, from there into the water, which then seeps into the ocean or a nearby lake.

You can bloody up your costume with red wine (only buy in a bottle so you can recycle), beet, strawberry, cherry or rhubarb juice. Mix the juice with a shortening and/or cornstarch until you get
the desired thickness and you are ready to bloody
yourself up sustainably.

MAKEUP:
You can use the cornstarch and shortening mix with natural food coloringfor your makeup. Make sure before you apply the homemade makeup, to puthomemade cold cream on your face.

FOOD:
To treat your friends with a scary dish, try the kitty litter cake. My friend, Alex, had this for his graduation party and I’m telling you it was not only scary, but also looked gross. But it tasted delicious!

Replace recipe with the eco-conscious ingredients:

– Make your Tootsie Rolls at home and waste no packaging and plastic wraps.

– Buy the cake mix at a bulk store nearby (bring your own container from home to be filled).

– Make your own green food coloring.

– Use glass pan instead of plastic.

– Leave out the plastic liner.

– Use an aluminum scoop.

Also check out the Halloween Cupcake ideas and be sure to substitute food coloring with natural homemade coloring. The spider cupcake is my favorite.

DECORATION:
Use all natural and local decoration for your home. Pick up some leaves when you next go on a walk and some dry sticks. Decorate with locally grown pumpkins, corn, apple seeds (make jewelry out of them or a long wall hanger) or other seeds from soft fruits.

Also, check out the site Thrifty Fun which I look at regularly. They have great ideas for homemade Halloween decorations that, hopefully, will inspire you.

GETTING TO THE PARTY:
– Definitely use public transportation or bike if you can. It is more fun getting around than sitting in a car and you can show off your costume all night long, not just at the party, but all the way there and back.

– Take a Taxi. In Los Angeles, you can now flag down taxis. Get one with your friends to save on the expense and enjoy the party without having to worry about driving drunk!

– If you drive, carpool! And have a designated driver!

AT THE PARTY:
– Bring your own cup/mug, so you don’t have to use plastic. Melt some chocolate and rub it over the rim of your cup (you can replace chocolate with strawberries or your favorite sweet fruit, and let it dry on your cup). Your drink will taste delicious but your mug will look scary enough so nobody will accidentally drink out of it.

– Bring your chopsticks or utensils

– Take an old (washed, of course) sock with you to use as your napkin. This is Halloween after all, so you can be as creative, as gross, and as scary as you like.

Halloween is the perfect opportunity to extend the theme of your character to your cup or mug, your utensils and your napkin. If you’re a vampire, what would a vampire drink from, what would a vampire eat with, what would a vampire use as a napkin. Enhance your character! No self-respecting ghoul drinks from a plastic cup and there’s no way the Watchmen use plastic forks.

If you end up doing some shopping, bring your own bag and refuse plastic bags. If you buy products, leave the packaging behind, if the packaging is not made of glass or metal or paper, which you can recycle at home (or at your office if you don’t have recycling at your home yet). Let the stores and the manufacturers take care of the excess packaging!

Whatever you buy, be it decoration, props, food, or accessories, see how far you can go without purchasing any plastic, foam, sponge, displays made out of vinyl, rubber, and products that are not natural. Not all plastic is recyclable and what is, still uses our resources and it can only be recycled once. Then the re-used, repurposed plastic has reached its lifecycle and it will end up in the landfill. So in the end, we still end up contributing to the landfill and our grandchildren will suffer the consequences.

And of course, reuse, recycle, and repurpose everything possible, so you can have a scary Halloween without scaring the planet.

I hope this article is more inspiring than scary! I, certainly, don’t want to spook you away from having fun, so enjoy your Halloween. Be creative and send me some photos of your Eco-Halloween, so we can inspire others next year and give them some encouragement!


Enci is a Mother, Actress, Artist and Activist.

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