It’s Time to Give Up Halloween Candy

Child slave labour, palm oil, plastic, sugar… Need we say more?

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

As the leaves turn and the air brisk-ens, Americans are gearing up to buy $2.6 billion dollars worth of bite-sized chocolate bars and multi-coloured sugar. This annual cultural practice is a mere drop in the climate crisis bucket, but since water has begun pouring over the edges, every drop counts.

We are throttling towards certain death if we don’t make significant and immediate sacrifices. Anything not imperative to our survival must be left behind.

No ‘trick or treat’ on a dead planet.

Why is Halloween candy so bad for the planet… and us?

  • Palm oil. Most halloween candy contains palm oil. Palm oil is one of the four major exports behind the Amazon fires. These fires are not new or unique to South America — they have been devastating forests and pouring carbon dioxide and methane into the air for years in Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • Sugar. Halloween candy contains sugar. Sugar is considered one of the world’s deadliest crops. Run-off fertilizers from sugar cane farms in Australia is one of the biggest contributors to the damage of the Great Barrier Reef. Not to mention the damage sugar does to the human body; 184,000 people worldwide die every year from sugary drinks alone.
  • Chocolate. Halloween candy is often chocolate. Two-thirds of the world’s cacao supply comes from West Africa where children as young as 12 are trafficked in from neighbouring countries to work in the cacao fields. Despite promises made to US Congress in 2001, Hershey, Mars and Nestlé still cannot guarantee that any of their chocolates are produced without child labor.
  • In addition to the concerns of child slavery, it should be known that cacao-producing areas in West Africa will be directly impacted by climate change in the near future. They will become too hot to produce cacao, forcing farmers to higher, less fertile ground. Prices will likely skyrocket and chocolate may once again become a delicacy.
  • Plastic. Halloween candy is individually wrapped in plastic inside of larger plastic bags. Plastic. Come on. We know the deal with plastic.
Kids don’t need candy, they need a livable future. Photo by author. Global Climate Strike, Los Angeles.

Halloween doesn’t have to come at the cost of forest fires, child labor, landfill pollution, and the degradation of our planet and bodies. From sewing and thrifting costumes to growing your own pumpkins, to making your own (sustainable) treats and gathering together with neighbours to celebrate the end of the fall harvest, Halloween is primed to be a joyful, low-budget, community-orientated, earth-friendly holiday.

And if your kids (or — hi, kids! — your parents) are concerned and upset about giving up their treats, remind them that our future is at stake and offer them these questions to reflect.

Why are so many holidays centred around sugary treats? And why do we use sugar to make ourselves happy?

All are encouraged to express and share their answers anyway they see fit — and to be creative!

We can no longer afford to carry on with “business as usual.” Sacrifice and radical change is the only way we’re going to save the planet and ourselves. It’s time to let go of the old ways of living and innovate with new traditions and celebrations. Saving the world is easier than we think. Start now.

The magazine of the rebellion.

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Kelly Tatham

Kelly Tatham

Fugitive. Systemsthinker. Saving the world is easier than we think. There is no world.

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