The temperature has dropped, the leaves have begun to change, and the influx of pumpkin presence can only mean one thing: Halloween is upon us! Decorations adorn the exterior of homes, pumpkin spice flows like a raging river, and streaming channels house countless thrills and chills to encourage the excitement of forthcoming festive parties, costumes, and treats. Yes, the stage is set for fun and frivolity for people of all ages.
But few are aware that there is mayhem afoot. For among the playfulness and jump scares, a villain creeps among revelers in plain sight. It hides in the crinkle of candy wrappers and behind the masks from your neighborhood pop-up Halloween store. It lurks in the shadows of the jack-o-lanterns and the cutout décor taped to windows and porches. It goes by a name so common yet deadly when we turn our backs on it:
The Wastefulness monster.
Fear not! For we live in an age where we are well-equipped to combat such a monster. We have the technology! We have the knowledge! And if all else fails, we have access to the internet.
To combat our sneaky foe, we must first understand its draw to the seemingly harmless seasonal accouterment.
The pumpkin is possibly the most recognizable staple of the spooky season, from outdoor decoration to the main ingredient in your favorite seasonal recipe. Here is a lesser-known fact about this favorite: approximately 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in landfills every year. This means that people throw their pumpkins straight into the trash and feed the Wastefulness monster. The way to counter this is by committing used pumpkin to compost. They are 90% water and contain essential nutrients that can go back to the earth through compost rather than disappear into a landfill. Some other ways to help green up the season with your pumpkins:
- Purchase pumpkins and gourds from a farmer’s market or a local farmer.
- Use the inside of the pumpkin to make tasty treats like bread, muffins, or cakes. Your goodies will automatically count towards your sustainability count and help reduce waste.
- Save and toast the seeds! Though it’s too late in the season to put them back into the ground, they work as a great festive snack.
Pop-up Halloween stores can be great for choosing a costume in a pinch, but they are also where the Wastefulness monster likes to hang out. The holiday has led to the production of poor-quality materials and oil-based plastics that do not bode well for the environment. When the time comes to create a costume for the holiday, consider the following:
- Reusing a costume or costume pieces from a previous year.
- Swapping costumes with a friend or hosting a costume trade at your home.
- Do a little DIY and utilize clothing or other things around your home to build a new costume.
Imagination and creativity with what you have on hand is a great way to fend off the Wastefulness monster.
Nothing says festive like decorating your home or business. The quickest way to spruce up might be to go to your local superstore for decorations, but it’s an invitation for the Wastefulness monster to stake out nearby. Rather than immediately jumping into making purchases, try making your decorations. Cardboard, paper towel, toilet paper tubes, old sheets, clothing, and wire coat hangers are great building blocks. If you decide to make purchases, consider buying eco-friendly or compostable items. Some other ways to help your carbon footprint include:
- Setting a timer for both inside and outside decorations to help save energy.
- Bringing looser decorations inside reduces the risk of them blowing away or ending up in the ground.
- Tying hanging decorations with string or rope that can be saved rather than using tape.
A final tip is for all you folks who entertain trick-or-treaters. To avoid having your heat work overtime with an open door, consider making a treat station for yourself outside to hand out candy. Pre-heat your space before the witching hour and turn off your thermostat while enjoying the parade of candy seekers. Finally, think about turning off other lights within your space during the activity time around your front door. It’s a small thing, but every little bit helps!
Halloween can maintain its spookiness without being scary. Consciousness and knowledge are vital to keeping the Wastefulness monster at bay even beyond this season. It’s something that we here at Energy Sciences have made a part of our mission in our industry. Making sustainable choices begins with understanding waste reduction. Check out our blog for more takes on creating sustainable environments!