One of the scariest parts of Halloween is the tons of non-biodegradable waste generated by wrappers, decorations and Halloween costumes.
Halloween is the second biggest decorating holiday of the year, surpassed only by Christmas. Halloween is also a major retail event that has grown substantially in recent years. In 2005 US, consumers spent approximately $3.29 billion on Halloween. In 2010, even after a deep recession, Americans are expected to spend $5.8 billion.
Consumers are spending increasing amounts of money on Halloween. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American consumer planned to spend $48.48 in 2005. According to the 2010 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Action Survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average Halloween spending by Americans in 2010 is expected to be a little over $66.00 per adult. That’s up from $56.31 spent in 2009.
Of the top four things that most people buy, three have a heavy environmental footprint. The first is candy, the problem here is the non-biodegradable packaging. The second most popular item people buy is pumpkins, properly composted, this is the best of the four from an environmental standpoint.
The two worst Halloween buys for the environment are decorations and costumes. Both are commonly made of plastic that do not break down. Plastics also contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates toxins including Bisphenolic Compounds like BPA.
In 2008, Halloween retail sales reached an all time high of nearly $6 billion nationwide. In 2009, as the effects of the recession set in consumers began making changes to their Halloween purchasing. Total spending on Halloween declined to $4.75 billion in 2009. Consumers expected to spend an average of $56.31 on Halloween in 2009, down from $66.54 in 2008.
Increased consumer frugality reduces Halloween’s environmental impact. One 2009 survey reported that 46.5 percent of consumers said they would buy less candy and 35.4 percent said they would use less decorations. Almost two in ten people (16.8 percent) planned to make their own costumes instead of buying and 15.8 percent planned to reuse 2008 costumes.
In 2010, about 30 percent said economic concerns are affecting their spending plans. The 2010 survey reports that while consumers are continuing to be frugal, they are planning cutbacks in candy but not costumes. However, store bought costumes, particularly those made of plastic, are a big part of Halloween’s footprint.
Two out of five Americans are planning to wear a costume in 2010, that is up from one-third last year. Four out of ten Americans are planning to spend an average of $23.37 for costumes. In the 18- to 24-year-old group nearly 70% (69.4%) are planning to wear a costume. A survey by National Retail Federation (NRF) showed that costumes will be the single largest expense.
About 11.5 percent of consumers are planning to dress up their pets for Halloween.