Halloween – Sustainability in the Spookiest Season

An environmentally unfriendly nightmare or just a bit of fun?

(Image: Pexels)

Autumn has always been my favourite season. It’s the perfect time to snuggle up in cosy, Rory Gilmore-style jumpers and go on long walks outside, pumpkin spice latte in hand. 

But for me, Halloween is the true essence of Autumn. What with the York Ghost Hunt Tours and student discount drinks, it’s always bound to be a good night. 

That being said, this treasured fear-fest brings with it a serious environmental downside which I’ve only recently considered. 

With each passing year, Autumn gets a little warmer and the fear of ghosts is replaced with eco-anxiety and concerns about the future of our planet. 

This has prompted me to question whether we can truly enjoy Halloween and participate in its traditions with a clear moral conscience. 

The millions of binned, post-Halloween pumpkins generate huge food waste on a global scale. Similarly, the mass purchase of last-minute costumes each year contributes to the fast fashion industry.  

Not to mention the fact that Halloween often entails increased crime rates and the late-night events always have an extra element of risk.  

So, is it all just a bit of fun? Or is Halloween the real skeleton in society’s closet? 

Of course, activities like watching horror films and trick-or-treating were left out of the original Celtic tradition.  

Halloween was meant to mark the night when the veil between our world and the next one was at its weakest. The whole point of Halloween ‘costumes’ (made up of animal skins) was to ward off these spirits. 

Apple bobbing wasn’t just a form of cheap, party entertainment to give the kids something to do whilst the parents mingled around the punch bowl. 

It was a socially legitimate way for unmarried singles to pair up, where each woman would distinctively mark an apple and then be promised to the lucky man who plucked it from the water.  

So perhaps there is a more optimistic way of looking at Halloween. After all, it isn’t Halloween itself which is inherently unethical. 

Rather, it’s the way that it has become conventionally celebrated and the commercial escalation of modern times that causes problems. 

You can create DIY costumes by ripping up old T-shirts and sheets to create a distressed, zombie look. Staple pieces like shirts, hats and blazers can be easily and cheaply salvaged from one of the many charity shops in York City centre.

It might also be fun to try baking something with the leftover pumpkin, as the seeds can be roasted for a light snack and there are loads of online recipes for treats like pumpkin muffins, pumpkin curries …even homemade pumpkin spice lattes! 

In short, Halloween doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom. There are still fun ways to celebrate it without being haunted by menacing guilt. 

So if you choose to celebrate, in whichever sustainable manner speaks to you, well I “witch” you a very Happy Halloween and a night full of wonderfully (ethical) tricks and treats.