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    From pumpkins to costumes, here’s how to go green this Halloween
    • October 20, 2023

    One frightening topic that isn’t inspiring any horror movies or haunted mazes this Spooky Season is climate change.

    (Knott’s or Universal, feel free to run with this idea for next year: “Maze 4°C” has a horrifying ring to it!)

    The bad news is that ignoring climate change is a bit like running upstairs to hide from the bad guy. It’s gonna find you eventually, and you will have lost critical time to make choices that could have actually upped your odds of survival.

    The good news is that there are lots of ways to make Halloween more sustainable without sacrificing the traditions that make this season so fun. So we rounded up some ideas, most of which can save you money to boot.

    Climate-friendlier costumes

    The rule of thumb with living more sustainably is the less new stuff we buy the better. That’s because making and transporting goods generally creates emissions, and most items eventually end up in landfills.

    So instead of doling out too much money on a costume that was very likely shipped from China to be worn once, consider buying a used costume, renting one or making your own.

    For used options, consider setting up a costume swap with friends or at a local community space. You can also check out online resellers, such as OfferUp, Poshmark, thredUP or Facebook Marketplace. Better yet, try a local Buy Nothing group, where people give away used clothing and other items. Or browse your local thrift shop for a costume or the makings of one.

    “Halloween is Goodwill’s busiest season,” said Marla Eby, spokesperson for Goodwill Southern California.

    “We are seeing many shoppers save money this year by skipping the high-priced big box or party stores and, instead, shopping their own closet and supplementing with pieces they find at Goodwill SoCal to create their own unique costume.”

    Use social media sites like TikTok, Pinterest and Instagram to find DIY ideas. “Weird Barbie,” from the “Barbie” movie, is one of the most searched-for costumes in California this year, per an analysis by clothing company boohoo.

    You can rent costumes online, too, from sites like Rent the Runway. There are also costume rental shops all around Southern California, such as The Theatre Company in Upland. Just don’t expect this to be a cheap option, since rental costumes tend to be high quality and factor in costs for cleaning.

    If you didn’t rent, once Halloween is over, sell or donate your costume so someone else can put it to use next year.

    Decorate wisely

    Try to limit what you buy new when it comes to decorations, too, by once again swapping with friends or buying used items through online marketplace or secondhand shops.

    You can also get creative with stuff you can find around your home and yard, such as using black construction paper to make flying bats, cardboard from boxes to make tombstones or branches and twigs to make a witch’s broom.

    Focus on compostable options such as gourds, giant corn stalks, fall leaves, hay bales and other natural materials. These can play scary with the right lighting, or the straight autumn theme can carry through to Thanksgiving.

    Avoid using fake cobwebs around your yard. They can trap bugs and birds or end up in nests, where they can pose choking hazards to baby birds. Most also break down into harmful microplastics.

    When it comes to spooky lights, swapping out incandescent bulbs for LED lights will reduce electricity use by 75% or more, trimming your utility bill along the way. The change also lowers the fire risk, since LED lights don’t get hot.

    But before you throw old lights out, try to recycle them. Your local waste hauler or hardware store might take them. You also can donate them or paint the bulbs and use them to make new decorations such as Halloween wreaths.

    Also, consider turning lights off before you go to bed; you’ll save electricity and reduce light pollution that can harm wildlife. Using a programmed timer makes it simple.

    Pumpkins aren’t trash

    About four-fifths of the nearly 2 billion pounds of pumpkins grown in the United States each year are used for Halloween celebrations, according to data from the Department of Energy. And most of those carved-up pumpkins end up in landfills once the holiday is over, where they release planet-warming methane gas as they decompose.

    The fix here is simple: Don’t think of pumpkins as trash.

    For starters, when you scoop out the insides during carving, save the seeds and roast them with some butter or oil and seasonings. (Pro tip: make sure the seeds are quite dry otherwise they won’t crisp up in the oven.)

    Pumpkin flesh also makes for yummy soups and pies. Just be sure to ditch all single-use serving items, such as paper plates and plastic cups, for those fall meals.

    After Halloween is over, see if you can help kickstart the composting process by finding a pumpkin-smash event near you. Some cities also are starting to collect pumpkins as they do Christmas trees, to make sure they don’t end up in landfills. You can also see if local sanctuaries, farms or zoos take pumpkins to feed their animals. Otherwise, put old pumpkins in your green bin or compost pile.

    Growing and transporting pumpkins for Halloween still takes a lot of resources. So, when possible, buy locally grown pumpkins. And for next year, consider planting your own vine if you have the space.

    Trick or treat options

    It’s hard to avoid creating waste if you want to participate in traditional trick or treating festivities, since candy has to be individually wrapped for hygiene and convenience. So unless you wanna go the non-candy route by, say, handing out fruit or coins, your best option here is to search for eco-friendly candy options that are sustainably made, ideally as close to home as possible, and come with compostable wrappers.

    Just know that you’re going to pay for those perks. And beware of “greenwashing,” where companies promote products as sustainable but don’t live up to the hype. Search the company through services such as EthicalMadeEasy and look for trusted certifications such as LEED, B Corp or Green Business Bureau.

    As for where you go trick or treating, the most climate-friendly option is to stick within walking distance of home. Otherwise, opt for public transportation or use an electric vehicle or hybrid and carpool when possible.

    Instead of carrying plastic pumpkins or other buckets, use an old pillow case or reusable tote bag. And consider making your trick-or-treating trip even greener by collecting errant wrappers or other trash you see along your route.

    If you end up with more candy than you can (or should) eat after Halloween, see if you can give it away at work, to neighbors, at local food banks or to people experiencing homelessness. As a last resort, take wrappers off and throw the candy in the compost bin.

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    ​ Orange County Register