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How to have a sustainable Halloween

A family crafts Halloween decorations
At Halloween, everything seems to be covered in single-use plastic - from bite-sized chocolate bars to throwaway costumes

During Halloween, everything seems to be covered in single-use plastic - from bite-sized chocolate bars to throwaway costumes. And this puts the ocean, lakes, rivers and planet at risk.

"Plastic that is not recycled or disposed of properly can end up in waterways. And sadly, this plastic is causing grave injury, malnutrition or even death to ocean animals who ingest it, thinking it is food. Ocean animals like whales, sea lions and birds can also get tangled in plastic and suffocate," says Laura Hardman, Ocean Wise's Director of Plastic Free Oceans.

So how can you make this Halloween more environmentally friendly? From costumes to decorations, here are some top tips for a sustainable Halloween.

Costumes

The problem is that most costumes are designed to be worn once and then thrown away. Worse still, they are often made from synthetic materials (like polyester, acrylic and nylon) that release plastic fibres into the environment. 

Try these tips instead:

  • Re-purpose an old costume, or make your costume from old clothes. 
  • Hold a costume swap with friends.
  • Check out your local thrift shop.
  • If all else fails and you chose to buy a new costume, look for something you would wear again and that is made from natural fibres.
  • Avoid glitter: sparkles are fun, but these tiny bits of plastic escape into waterways leading many scientists to call for a full-blown glitter ban.

Treats

  • Home made treats, rather than individually wrapped ones, are the easiest way to reduce packaging waste. 
  • Head to the bulk isle in your local supermarket to get your sweet fix without the packaging.
  • When planning beverages, note that aluminum cans of pop or juice are most commonly recyclable.
  • Look out for candy options boxed in cardboard (like Smarties), or sweet treats wrapped in foil. These wrappers stand a slightly better chance of being recycled (depending on your local facilities and the level of contamination).

Trick-or-treating

  • Use flashlights (or a bike light) rather than one-time-use glow sticks to light up the streets and your kids.
  • Instead of buying another single use bag for collecting candy, encourage your kids to repurposing that stash of reusable bags, or go old school and carry a pillowcase. 

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