All across America right now, families, students and children alike are choosing costumes. Grocery stores are creating deals for candy to pass out to trick-or-treaters, homeowners are transforming their lovely estates to haunted Victorian manors that people can visit and pumpkin patches are overflowing with guests. Halloween is just around the corner.
Aside from the traditional festivities, there are many ways to celebrate this year’s Halloween while also doing something helpful for the community. On Oct. 29, the Center for Service in Action (CSA) is hosting a clean-up to prepare for the holiday in the neighborhoods surrounding Cal Poly. Students can help clean up from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and receive a donut for their hard work.
Participants are welcome to “dress festively and join in maintaining a clean, socially responsible community,” CSA said on their event posting page.
Historically, Cal Poly has seen many parties happen on this special weekend, referred to affectionately as ‘Halloweekend.’ Many students gather with their friends and choose to dance the night away. While this is a fun way to spend the day, there are many ways in which Halloween can be environmentally unfriendly.
Beverage cans, leftover scraps and food boxes can be seen in the streets near campus after the weekend’s celebrations. With colleges already known for having parties on Friday and Saturday nights, waste can build up over time and leave a mess in the local environment.
Halloween costumes can also produce significant waste. Costumes are usually used for one night and tossed to the side, never to be worn again. Many also purchase items from fast fashion companies.
“Candy wrappers. We’ve got so many candy wrappers. Costumes that have boas that shed can become neighborhood trash,” organizer for CSA’s cleanup team Emma Haley said.
Jack-o-Lanterns, a favorite Halloween decoration, may be cute and friendly for several days. However, pumpkins eventually rot, spoil and are dumped in the landfills, where they may emit methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, according to MPR News.
CSA is hoping to change that narrative and make Halloween truly a green holiday.
“We’ll always host a cleanup on the Sunday that’s closest to Halloween. We always work with the Neighborhood Outreach Project with the San Luis Obispo Police Department to figure out a time,” Haley said.
Those interested in getting involved with the clean-up can sign up here. CSA works year-round, not just on Halloween, and their website is updated frequently with opportunities where service is needed in the community.
That community is well-built through events like these.
“We’ve had residents drive by and say, ‘Thank you so much for helping. We’ll bring donuts next time,’” Haley said.