Boo! Halloween, Consumption and Climate Change – Scary!

Happy Halloween! We, in North America have taken the celebration ofghosts, goblins and monsters to an extreme, and on October 31st we will be ringing in this festive and spooky holiday in a myriad of ways. I recently finished watching the “Terminator” movie series with my son. “Timely” in a way, as we get ready for Halloween, given that all the movies in the series focus on scary creatures.

The movies are filled with a lot of murder, monster and mayhem. I figured though, not much more gruesome than some of the electronic games my son plays with his friends, much to my pacifist chagrin. I choose to watch the whole series with my son, as a kind of ghoulish bonding experience, and was reminded that there is a message threading it’s way through the series – subtly and some times not so subtly the movies point to humankind’s responsibility to care for and to rescue our world and us, for future generations.

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In watching the Terminator movies, I felt that we Climate Mamas and Papas are a bit like the character of Sarah Connor who was the mother of John, the “savior” of the human race. There is overwhelming evidence available to anyone who wants to see it – we humans are destroying our planet. Like Sarah, we know that the “monsters” are lurking. In our case we know that we are changing our ecosystems and heating up our world through our thoughtless emissions of greenhouse gases and our wasteful consumerism. We too often close our eyes and pretend we can’t see.

Not to put a crimp on Halloween, as in most cases our celebrations are harmless. Or are they? There is a line that runs through the Terminator movies, “No fate but what we make”. How in North America, did we turn a harvest festival and the occasion to tell a few good ghost stories, into a mass consumerism event? We in America “do things up big”, Halloween being no exception. The holiday has turned into a marketer’s dream. We buy cards for friends, we buy new costumes for our children, and we purchase as many “crazy, scary and festive” decorations as we can, rivaled only by how we decorate for the winter holidays.

In the northeast US, if you “don’t” decorate for Halloween, you are almost considered a “scrooge”. We haven’t even talked about the candy and other goodies we give out (in single use containers no less – so no one can accuse us of “tampering” with the goodies). Which side of the looking glass are we looking thru, have we made our fate?

Lets flip the picture and look to the positive and come up with ways to heal our world one small step at a time.

1. What about recycling yours and your kid’s costumes, exchanging them with friends for a “new costume” for next year or think about giving the costume to a school or a camp or a used clothing store. Just because the Halloween magazines start coming in August, doesn’t mean you have to succumb to your kid’s demands to get a new costume each year. I fell under that spell for all too long!!

2. What about saving those great decorations and reusing them.

3. Compost, eat or give away the vegetables you display instead of letting them rot on the front porch. Be inventive, be creative. As we in America top off another land fill with our garbage, and pollute our waterways with our leftovers our planet’s ability to recover continues to be compromised. And we aren’t even talking about all that methane gas that collects in those landfills and what harm this potent greenhouse gas can do when it is released into our atmosphere.

4. Think about the candy you buy, where does it come from, packaging, etc. Grist did an interesting article recently on “candy you can feel good about,” read it and discuss this with the kids in your life. There is always, “more to the story” that we normally consider!

Ghosts and goblins are lurking all year around, not just on Halloween. As you celebrate this holiday, engage your children and your grandchildren and consider more sustainable ways to celebrate all our holidays. Food for thought?

Yours truly,

Climate Mama

(This post is “recycled” in part from a 2009 CM Post. In honor of Halloween, and in case you missed it the first time, an “oldie” but a goodie – Enjoy!)

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