I consider Halloween to be the scariest damn time of year. And not only because I need to cover my eyes every other commercial, no-thanks to the onslaught of scary movie trailers. Not even because the ghouls behind this man-made holiday manage to sluttify even the mascot of the Fall season, the noble pumpkin (though I’ve got a sweet spot for this particular Slutty Pumpkin). Nope, Halloween is the scariest time of year because oh shit, this god-forsaken holiday is a plastic nightmare. Cringe factor is high all around.
All throughout the month of October, bite-size candy bars can be found on every front desk both sides of the Mississippi. Aisle after seasonal junk aisle is overflowing with the stuff. To come across one of these bowls of treats used to be a source of joy. (Though that joy is quickly extinguished when faced with the coal-in-your-stocking of Halloween treats: the Almond Joy. Legend has it that the evil candy exec who made the decision to produce a ‘fun size’ version of this joyless snack did it just to f*ck with us. Almond Joy is the trick among the treats. What are the demographics for the Almond Joy anyway? There’s no way in hell these deadweights are trick-or-treat friendly. But I digress.) Until one fateful day it occurred to me that these fun little sugar bombs are in fact not-so-fun plastic bombs. What may now seem obvious since you are in fact reading a piece on the sneakiness of plastic, may not have been so obvious the last time you zombie-walked your way over to the candy bowl looking for that late afternoon pick me up. Am I right? Worse yet, those sweet little suckers are wrapped in a form of plastic that can’t even be recycled, that is if recycling plastic were even a thing.
And if your brain is looking for a loophole, like when it tries to trick you that your favorite candy bars of the UK persuasion don’t count because they are ‘special’ and ‘foreign’, forget about it. Even the European candy bars are wrapped in plastic. Oh. Shit.
When considering the usual suspects of Halloween, where candy is the most ubiquitous, this next one slays on irreverence. I’m talking about the Halloween Costume and Decor Store. This abomination appears out of nowhere no sooner than when your mindset has moved on from summer vibes. Its sole mission is to be the most unnecessary of all unnecessary things. And it exclusively sells the season’s most planet-harming looks, which happen to be so hot right now. These Halloween Stores are filled with grotesque, oil-derived, poorly designed, cheaply made outfits and objects intended to be used once in their lifetime, maybe a handful of times at best. Yet most of these products will haunt this planet for centuries to come, because that’s what plastic does. The horror.
Back when I was a kid, we made our costumes, which was not only economical, but it was also an opportunity to be creative and fashion something new out of stuff you already had. There’s an idea – reclaim Halloween as a holiday when we use only pre-existing, upcycled materials and waste which would otherwise be sent to the landfill. And put a moratorium on Halloween Stores and the plastic products they sling because surely enough of these horrid products already exist to be cycled and recycled continuously through future generations of Halloweeners. Evermore.
In the end, what can we do? Well the best option is to avoid and not buy any of this unnecessary seasonal crap in the first place. And let’s be honest, this shouldn’t be too difficult of a request. We’re only talking about reforming consumption around a single day out of the year. And there are plenty of suggestions out there on how to de-plastify and DIY Halloween. Most are pretty obvious, like just make decorations and costumes out of stuff you already have. Or you know, if you still feel compelled to consume, and you’re a member of Gen E, you can at least feel better about said consumption because you’ll be automatically thanking the planet by way of sending it a little philanthropic love. That’s what we’re here for, after all.
But all this is easy for me to say – I obviously prefer to pretend the holiday doesn’t exist, and that works for me. As for the candy, well that’s a year round problem that’s a work in progress. I surely think twice now before mindlessly rummaging around in that candy bowl. And anyway, as a lover of treats and Fall flavors, I find it’s much more satisfying to #TreatYoSelf at local bakeries where the pumpkins aren’t slutty – not that there’s anything wrong with that – and the treats are plastic-free.
*This article was in no way intended to offend the horror fandom community, who we recognize as distinct from and not necessarily affiliated with the commercialized American ‘holiday’ that is Halloween. It is intended to off-put indulgers of the commercialized Halloween in an attempt to catalyze a rethinking of the consumption behaviors around this retail day. Boo!