Plastic waste from holiday celebrations needs to be curbed
Steps need to be taken to limit single-use plastics used in celebrating Halloween and other holidays
It is officially November, which means that the spooky season is behind us. However, the environmental impacts caused by our consumer choices during the Halloween season are far from over.
The thrill of going out and buying a costume or trick or treating is what makes Halloween one of the most exciting nights of the year.
While many would say the scariest part of Halloween is the costumes themselves, for people concerned about the climate, the aftermath of cheap, mass-produced costumes and decorations is far scarier. Along with Easter and Christmas decorations, many of these items are only used once and end up being forgotten in a trash can.
Halloween and other holidays are significant contributors to the fast fashion industry since most costumes are only worn once before being thrown away, and this is a major issue in Canada.
According to the Recycling Council of Ontario, in 2018, the average Canadian was buying 70 new articles of clothing a year, which contributed to a staggering 12 million tonnes of textile waste being thrown away.
An investigation conducted by Hubbub, a U.K.-based environmental charity, revealed that the U.K. produced an estimated 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste from throwaway Halloween costumes in 2019. Around 83 per cent of these costumes were made from oil-based plastic, with polyester accounting for 69 per cent of all materials used.
Since many Halloween costumes are not made to be worn beyond a single-use, manufacturers use cheap materials like polyester and nylon, which are highly unsustainable and take years to break down in landfills.
While the above numbers are U.K. statistics, it doesn’t diminish the fact that Canada has a significant plastic problem. Around 2.8 million tons of plastic waste end up in Canadian landfills every year, and over one-third of packaging is designed for one-time use.
Thankfully, the majority of Canadians have begun to recognize the threat single-use plastics pose for the environment, and over the past few years have taken steps to reduce plastic waste. We are already adjusting our lifestyles to mitigate plastic consumption in our day-to-day lives, adding holiday consumerism to the list is a natural next step.
There are many simple ways we can make Halloween more eco-friendly and cut back on
single-use textiles and decorations. You can rent, thrift, or swap your costume to stay sustainable for the next Halloween, or take a look in your closet and see what you have to work with there.
Not only are these shopping methods more sustainable, but they also end up being more fun because you have to get creative. By reusing materials when creating your costume or decorating, you reduce the amount of litter that ends up in our landfills.
As Canada moves forward in its initiative to minimize our usage of single-use plastics, we need to reconsider our consumer habits during times of festivity like Halloween, where we are more likely to overindulge even if it negatively impacts the environment.
By spreading awareness of the plastic crisis associated with holidays and advocating for the government and companies to implement regulations on the volume of plastic in the supply chain over these periods, we can find new, more sustainable ways to celebrate without sacrificing the excitement and fun these occasions bring.