A More Zero Waste Halloween

Credited to Dublin Street Artist

Zero Waste Samhain/Halloween

With Halloween upon us this Wednesday, It’s a time to celebrate the seasonal change, well it was from a more traditional perspective of ‘Samhain’ the Celtic pagan festival that goes back to the 4th Century in Ireland. Samhain was the end of the year’s harvest and the beginning for nature to prepare itself for the following growing season.

Samhain from an astrology aspect is exactly between Autumn Equinox and the Winter solstice. The pagans were much more connected to natures patterns, as they needed to rely on and survive without the resources we have today.

Winter is the time for nature to reset, especially in the cold temperate climate of Ireland. It is the busiest season for decomposition to occur. Under our feet, the microorganisms are busy rebuilding and sharing nutrients with each other in the living soil food web. The pagan festival was very much connected to how they behaved and respected the seasonal changes.

Modern Halloween Samhain/Halloween

Halloween has become a big time of the year, with most people getting involved in the festive fun holiday. However, Halloween is more to do with ‘Trick or treating’, dressing up in new costumes and buying a lot of decorations that will get thrown out. With over €300 million spent at Halloween, there is no doubt it is very much a part of the modern economy. But at what cost does this investment in the Economy come as?

Recent statistics from the UK show that over 90% of Halloween costumes sold come from single use plastics or non recyclable materials. In fact, over 2,600 tonnes of Halloween bought items end up in the landfill every year. Over 7 million costumes end up in the landfill after just one use. Halloween has become more of a materialistic holiday instead of its original intent of celebrating the seasons, harvests and getting ready for the cold winter months.

We still dress up and partake in ‘All Souls Day’ or in Irish Gaeilge ‘Aos Sí’ the day that the doors open to the ‘other worlds’ allowing supernatural ‘spirits’ or ‘fairies’ to walk on the earth. Traditionally dressing up was to blend in and protect yourself from any supernatural beings that might walk the earth and would like to take you with them. The concept was also true on the fact that the colder months took more people from the world. People were much more aware of the seasonal changes and challenges and had a genuine fear of what might come

Can we have a more Zero waste Halloween?

Like most holidays in the modern age, they have become more materialistic and more about spending money rather than the traditional reasons for that holidays. We can still enjoy ourselves while becoming more conscious and aware of how we partake and our behaviours at the same time. The Zero Waste movement is growing in Ireland as increasingly more people are conscious about climate change and the amount of waste we create or continue to allow into our waste systems.

Halloween or Samhain should have a respectful aspect towards nature and the environment, while we continue to have fun times and celebrate the seasonal changes as winter settles in. If we truly want to make change and reduce our waste, we need to look at how we behave during festive holidays such as Halloween. If we all do our bit, we can collectively make a massive change.

“Remember that waste starts and ends with you”

What can you do for this Samhain or Halloween?

  1. Why not Visit the Dublin Food Coop in Newmarket, Dublin 8 this Wednesday? Kids are welcome to trick or treat. The Dublin Food Coop offers a range of Zero Waste products. Just bring your own bags, containers or reuse packaging you might otherwise throw away and stock up on some healthy fun treats for Halloween.
  2. The Dublin Community Environmental Network are also running a competition for this Halloween; Can you create a Halloween mask using recycled material, natural materials or reused materials?. If you’re interested in entering and starting a more conscious Halloween movement that please follow the link for more details on the competition, how you can enter and some prizes. 

    The Competition runs until October 31st so you still have time. Enjoy the festive activities and we are all looking forward to seeing some creative Halloween masks. To see the competition on Facebook  click here

    If you don’t have Facebook, Submit your entry by emailing a photograph of your mask to dublincen@gmail.com

    • Include a list of materials used to make your mask.
    • Include your name, place of residence, email address and phone number, which we will contact the winners by of each category.
    • Include which category you are entering: Under 14s or over 14s.
    • Photographs can be of the mask only and do not have to show it being worn.
    • You must submit Entries into the competition by 5 pm, October 31st, 2018.
  3.  Why not Sign up to be a Climate Ambassador for Ireland. Take a look on www.climateambassador.ie and take positive climate change actions. I have been an ambassador this year and highly recommend it. It has been a great way to get more involved with local actions, networking with like-minded people and share inspiring projects where schools, communities, and individuals have taken direct and small local climate actions.

Remember the 5 R’s of Zero Waste.

Refuse

Before we create any environmental issue, we can refuse it from happening. We can refuse to buy items and transition in how we behave with our money during the festival holidays. Refusing to buy items with so much packaging can naturally reduce your waste streams in your house and cost cheaper. Why not refuse to throw items out unless you can recycle them? Or refuse to throw good food waste in the bin.

Reduce

We can ALL reduce our consumption with a proactive approach, If you don’t really need it, then maybe you need not buy it? This will automatically reduce your spending and your waste. Be more aware of advertising and media trying to convince you to need all the items. Reduce littering is a massive step in the right direction, so much plastic is in our rivers and ocean causing massive cascading environmental issues.

Reuse

Why not reuse a costume from previous years for Halloween? What about doing a swap shop with family and friends and reuse perfectly good Halloween costumes you haven’t dressed up before? why not go to a Bulk shop and reuse bags, containers and packaging and get refills? This can help you buy more organic items, reduce the costs and remove packaging from your house waste stream.

Recycle

Let us remove single use packaging from our systems which end up polluting our environment. Doing all the R’s before this one will help. But make sure you set up recycling bins in your house, workplace, schools or colleges. Separating the waste helps to reduce the amount of waste making it to landfills.

Rot

Irish households on average throw out over €700 of food waste into the landfill every year. This is down to over buying items in the shops, buying special deals like 3 for 2 and not using it all. We all need to reduce our food waste and any waste we have or create we should be able to compost it and allow those nutrients to go back into the soil. So remember to use up the inside a carved pumpkin, roast the seeds or better still keep them for next year and grow your own pumpkins.

Article Written by Aaron Jewell –  Follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter

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