Trick or Treat: 8 Sustainable Sweets for Halloween
By: Claudia Lee
Halloween is definitely an excuse to indulge in some sweet treats, but as much as they make us happy, they’re not always good for the planet. Like many consumer food products, sweets can be harmful to the planet depending on how they are produced and packaged.
For example, some candies are made from raw materials that are unethically sourced, meaning the workers involved in production may be working in poor conditions and may not be paid fairly.
The cocoa industry is notoriously opaque and has been linked to many instances of modern slavery. Luckily, brands such as Tony’s Chocolonely are on a mission to end this by committing to make chocolate that is 100% slave free.
Rest assured, there are sweets that are more planet-friendly. We’ve put together a list of some sustainable chocolate and candy brands in Hong Kong to indulge in this Halloween:
Tony’s Chocolonely may have bold packaging, but they have an even bolder mission: to make chocolate 100% slave free. The company works closely with their cocoa farmers to ensure they are paid fairly and work in safe conditions.
Jealous Sweets’ mission is to make ‘shamelessly tasty’ sweets by using plant-based, gluten-free and sugar-free ingredients, we think they’re doing pretty amazing so far! All of their sweets come in colourful, recyclable bags.
Dandies’ plant-based marshmallows are gluten free and contain no corn syrup, artificial flavours or gelatin. Whether toasted, inside a s’more or in hot chocolate, it’s hard to say no to a fluffy Dandies marshmallow!
Halloween is a wonderful time for getting dressed up in your best costumes, hosting fun themed parties and of course, the candy. But seldom do we think of all the waste it produces, from the wrappers on the candy to your costumes themselves. Here are some simple ideas on how you can make this Halloween your most sustainable one yet!
Rent or swap costumes
Halloween costumes create an extraordinary amount of waste; in 2019, in the UK alone, an estimated 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste were generated from throwaway Halloween costumes, the equivalent of 83 million plastic bottles. Further, of 324 separate textile items, the most common plastic polymer found was polyester, which accounted for 69% of all materials, while cotton made up only 10%.
You can still have an amazing Halloween look without the associated waste. Costume shops hire out a huge selection of amazing costumes that are better quality than fast fashion options (like Fortune Costume in Tsim Sha Tsui). You can also host a fun clothing swap with your friends to swap costumes, or you can even scrounge around your wardrobe and put something together DIY-style.
Luxury children’s clothing reseller, Retykle, is hosting its annual Halloween costume swap campaign until 31 October 2021, where parents can bring their kids’ outgrown costumes to swap or pay just HK$50 to buy something ‘new’ (if they don’t have any costumes to swap). See details on the campaign here!
Use sustainable decorations
Think spiders, eye balls, spider webs and pumpkins, along with many other items commonly used to set a spooky scene. Most of these (if not all) are made from cheap plastic, which is made from petroleum, a significant contributor to global warming.
If you do buy decorations, make sure that they’re reusable and good quality so that you can use them year after year. You can also create your own decorations – we found this list of easy-to-follow Halloween decorations tutorials – to cut back on waste.
Choose soy candles
Candles are perfect for creating a moody atmosphere, but less thrilling is that many of them are made with paraffin wax, which are not only created with petroleum but may also release dangerous chemicals. Be sure to light up soy-based or beeswax candles instead.
We love this beautiful soy-based candle from The Lion Rock Press adorned with the Hong Kong skyline.
Make Your Own Treats
Some of the biggest candy makers in the world including Cadbury and Nestlé have a massive impact on the environment. The demand for sugar, palm oil and cocoa beans in their products causes deforestation and species extinction and they have been found to source their cocoa from countries that use child labour or slave labour to harvest cocos beans. Besides the products themselves, the packaging they come in are very often non-recyclable, so they will persist in the environment for potentially thousands of years.
Get into the Halloween mood and make your own treats instead! Cookies are always a hit, and you can decorate them to be Halloween-themed. You could also make fudge or home-made lollies. Instead of wrapping them in plastic or cellophane, you could put them in paper bags decorated with Halloween-themed images. Alternatively, head to zero-waste stores around Hong Kong for packaging-free sweet treats that are vegan-friendly and contain only natural ingredients.
Avoid single-use items
Think of all the waste created over Halloween – between candy wrappers, disposable cups, plates and cutlery, as well as plastic treat buckets, it’s overwhelming. Cut down on your Halloween footprint with reusable tableware for parties and a reusable option for treats (hint – if you use a pillowcase, you can fit more candy in).
You can buy cute-looking reusable containers, like these glass containers, from zero-waste stores.
Use the whole pumpkin
Using pumpkins for Halloween may not be a widely-followed tradition in Hong Kong, but many people use plastic ones as decorations. This year, why not use a real pumpkin to carve and display? It will definitely create a fun atmosphere and it won’t create waste or take up valuable space in your apartment post-Halloween. Don’t forget to save those pumpkin seeds to roast later, use the flesh for various recipes or compost them all together!
How eco-unfriendly is your cocktail? It’s difficult to say which alcohols are “green,” since production methods, distillation techniques and ingredients vary from bottle to bottle or even the same kinds of spirits. Certain kinds of alcohol are generally more sustainable, like organic wine and certain kinds of beer, but if you want to be more creative but no less sustainable, use fruit peels as cocktail garnishings instead of throwing them away or use sustainable alcohol, like Flor de Caña, a fair trade-certified and sustainably produced rum from Nicaragua.
All that face paint and glitter has to go somewhere after you remove it and it usually heads into waterways, potentially releasing dangerous chemicals. Instead, use eco-friendly face paint and glitter to achieve amazing Halloween looks without the negative environmental impact. These face paints from Natural Earth Paint are made using natural and organic pigments that are free of parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, petroleum-based pigments and animal products, but are still opaque. These glitters from TodayGlitterShop are 100% plastic-free and are biodegradable!
We hope that this list of hacks inspires you to be more sustainable this Halloween; there is no reason that you can’t keep up your eco-habits just because you’re celebrating.
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to be eco-conscious, follow our Instagram for more ideas (@8shadesofficial)!
Halloween is coming up, and for many, that means finding a costume. And while you probably don’t want to show up in the same costume as last year, there are plenty of ways to come up with new ideas rather than buying yet another single-use costume.
According to a report by environmental charity Hubbub UK, 82.5% of the materials found in Halloween costumes are plastic. And when you consider how many costumes are thrown away after a single use, it’s estimated that the annual plastic waste generated from the industry is equivalent to about 83 million water bottles – from just one Halloween!
We can, and should, do better. This year, why not look through your closet for some easy costume ideas, host a costume swap with friends, or head to pre-loved secondhand stores like HULA to find something you can reuse over and over again?
We’ve done the heavy lifting for you with the following eight DIY Halloween costume ideas:
1. Squid Game
Jean-Paul Gaultier Long-sleeved Turtleneck and Pants Set
This shimmery two-piece set can be worn separately long after Halloween, meaning it won’t go to waste like most single-use Squid Game costumes. To make it more like the actual track suit seen on the show, add your own white racing tape down the sides of the arms and legs, and finish it off with some numbered stickers on the left chest.
A mummy costume never goes out style, and neither does this Fendi sleeveless top. Pair it with white leggings for the full look, and wear itagain and again with a pair of jeans, black mini skirt or whatever bottoms you have in your closet.
Save the dalmations – and the environment – with this pre-loved black and white abstract blazer from Joseph. All you need are a black-and-white wig, jumpsuit and thigh-high boots to match, and some blood-red accessories to complete the look.
Alexander Mcqueen White and Grey Abstract Fur Prints Long-sleeved Mini Dress
From what we hear about the Game of Thrones prequel, the origins of the White Walkers will soon be revealed. Stay ahead of the game by dressing up like one of the grisly characters with this very apt Alexander McQueen mini dress.
Remember, these DIY Halloween ideas are just the start! Buying secondhand is already better than buying brand new single-use Halloween costumes, but the best thing you can do is to go through your own closet to see what you already have – and what you can make of it. Good luck and let us know what you come up with by tagging us on Instagram @8shadesofficial!
Looking for Halloween costumes for the kids? You’re in luck, because luxury children’s clothing reseller, Retykle, is hosting its annual Halloween costume swap campaign! From now until 31 October 2021, parents can bring their kids’ outgrown costumes to swap or pay just HK$50 to buy something ‘new’ (if they don’t have any costumes to swap).
Did you know? In 2019, an estimated 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste was generated from throwaway Halloween costumes in the UK alone, which is the equivalent of 83 million plastic bottles. Further, of 324 separate textile items, the most common plastic polymer found was polyester (which accounted for 69% of all materials) while cotton made up only 10%.
With their Halloween costume swap, Retykle is working hard to keep kids’ Halloween costumes in circulation and out of landfills. Why not let go of last year’s costumes and swap them for something different – at no extra cost! Princess, pirate or chef – Retykle will probably have what you’re looking for.
Retykle, 8/F, 44 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Sing Teck Building, Wong Chuk Hang, open Mon to Fri from 9:30am-6pm
Note: Costumes with seller bags will also be accepted until 15 October 2021. Sellers can include them with their next seller pick-up or drop-off and they will be able to use their swap token.