From candy to pumpkins, the spookiest part of Halloween is the waste it can produce. One billion pounds of pumpkins get tossed out each year, and with a pandemic in the mix for 2020, this Halloween season just turned into a horror movie.
We wanted to flip the script and rethink Halloween traditions that can last a lifetime to help reduce food waste and protect our land.
To help reduce pumpkin waste, we’ve rounded up some recipes and ideas that will help you make use of every part of the pumpkin but the stem. And to help reduce your overall footprint, we accumulated the list below to get in the spooky spirit in a way that’s fun for the family and good for the environment. (Just be sure to check with your local city for trick-or-treat regulations in your neighborhood, too.)
Get Your Pumpkins Locally
Pumpkins are everywhere in October. From the hardware store to your local market, consumers have access to these fruits (yes, fruits!) from September through Thanksgiving. One of the best ways to pick yours sustainably is to support local farms, orchards and pumpkin patches. So skip the selection at your grocery store and head to a local pumpkin purveyor near you!
Get Festive With Food
Jack-o-lanterns don’t just come from pumpkins. While you’re at a local market picking your pumpkins, grab some sweet potatoes, apples and oranges (November is orange season), and get frighteningly festive with your food.
Sweet potatoes: Need a side for dinner? Make jack-o-lantern sweet potatoes fries with pumpkin spice and mini festive cookie cutters.
Oranges & apples: Carving pumpkins can be tough, so try an orange instead! Turn an orange into a jack-o-lantern with scissors. Then use the orange flesh to warm up and add a little zest to your homemade apple cider.
Choose Healthy and Environmentally Friendly Candy
Individual candy packs are safer for sharing, but the plastic wrapping leaves a large environmental footprint behind. When choosing candy, consider enjoying sustainable packaged sweets, like Junior Mints and other candies in cardboard boxes that can go in your recycle bin. Or choose organic candies like we’ve accumulated below:
- Clif Kid ZBars and ZFruit bars, brownies, and organic fruit ropes are made with organic ingredients to help keep harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilizers out of the environment and our bodies, while fueling kids with resourceful energy.
- YumEarth Organic Halloween Candy includes candy corn, lollipops and gummy fruits that are free from the top 8 allergens: eggs, gluten, shellfish, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy and dairy.
- Wholesome Organic Spooky Shapes are organic gummies in the shape of jack-o-lanterns, spiders, witch hats and skulls that are made with all natural, organic ingredients from Fair Trade farmers.
- Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are an environmental substitute for Reese’s because they are 100% organic and gluten free, made with Rainforest Alliance-certified chocolate, and comes from a company with values we stand by.
Distribute Candy Responsibly
If trick or treating is allowed in your neighborhood, it’s particularly important to distribute candy in a safe way for visitors at a distance to prevent spreading germs. Skip leaving the bowl out for that one troublemaker to dump in their bag and consider these tips.
If you’re feeling really crafty and festive, you can make your own skeleton candy slide for sharing at a distance. Instead of using PVC pipes which are made from vinyl plastic that is harmful to the environment when broken down, swap slide material for scrap metal or aluminum foil ducts.
A simpler way to be safe is to wrap up your treats in brown paper bags. These bags are not only easy to decorate and are reusable, but are also made from unbleached, recycled brown craft paper to conserve natural resources, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Create Your Own Treat Bag
Brown paper bags are not only great for distributing candy, but collecting it, too! Spend quality time with the kids decorating a brown grocery store bag with bats, pumpkins or skeleton drawings. Upcycle an old white pillow case for your treat bag and use a black sharpie to draw a ghost. And for those in need a last minute costume? Dress up as a bag of trash!
Make an Environmental Statement with Your Costume
Making your own costume helps reduce the footprint on this holiday season by not contributing to the ever growing waste in the textile industry. Easily spark up conversations with your neighbors about protecting our environment with a few homemade costume ideas.
Take your Vampire costume up a notch by wrapping your cape in “energy vampires” — cords that waste energy when plugged in. Or dress up as Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, a character that speaks for the trees and confronts environmental destruction head-on — by making this cute mask from recycled construction paper.
For more ideas for reducing food waste, visit ivaluefood.com. Follow us on social media and let us know how you’re celebrating green this Halloween season.