How to make Halloween candy choices more sustainable

With just weeks after many neighborhood streets flooded with candy-seeking trick-or-treaters, environmentalists and sustainability experts say you should consider taking a second look at the sweets you might be planning to hand out — or eat — for Halloween.

While chocolate pleases the masses, the ubiquitous candy “has some close associations with two of the biggest environmental crises we now face, the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis,” he says. John BuchananVice President of Sustainable Production for Conservation International.

On top of that, a lot of individually wrapped candy that gets plucked from plates at parties or taken home at the end of the night contributes to the dreaded holiday waste problem.

“Halloween should really be called Plasticween,” he says. Judith Inca former senior EPA official under Barack Obama who now heads Beyond the plastic advocacy organization. despite Fashion and decorations are the main sources of plasticThe glut of non-recyclable candy wrappers is also a cause for concern. Broadly, Enk says, the holiday is a “plastic and solid waste disaster.”

Chocolate problem

But Enck and other experts stress that canceling the holiday is not the answer. “I would strongly oppose the abolition of Halloween,” she says.

“I have very fond memories of trick-or-treating as a kid. My kids had a great time – trick-or-treat,” he adds. Caroline DimitriHe is an applied economist and associate professor of food studies at New York University. “It’s our culture, our custom – we give out candy on Halloween.”

So, if you are among the Nearly two-thirds of Americans Planning to hand out candy this year, here’s how experts recommend treating — rather than cheating — the planet with your choices.

Understand the effects of candy

“It is important for consumers, with any product they buy, to educate themselves about its source, how it is manufactured, the product’s impact on the environment and its social implications,” he says. Alexander FergusonVice President of Communications and Nonprofit Membership World Cocoa Foundation.

Experts say the environmental, climatic and social impacts of popular candy products are largely related to two common ingredients: cocoa and palm oil — both of which can be found in chocolate.

“In terms of sustainability, the biggest problems in the confectionery industry are chocolate,” he says. Etel Higuenetan environmental and human rights expert who helped create the first ecological environment Chocolate scorecard.

Companies typically source cocoa and palm oil from tropical regions often populated by people in less economically developed communities, says Dimitri. According to some estimates about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa Comes from West Africa while there 90% of the world’s palm oil trees are It is grown on a few islands in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The production of cocoa and palm oil has led to the emergence of Deforestation of critical rainforestsBuchanan, who poses problems for climate and biodiversity, says. Ivory Coast in West Africa, for example, It has lost 80% of its forests since 1970.

He adds that preserving these rainforests could help the world achieve its goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels.

“Deforestation and land use change are huge drivers of emissions globally,” Buchanan says. “Even if we have a 100 percent perfect solution for green energy and… decarbonization, if you remove carbon from the economy tomorrow, we still have to take nature into account if we want to stay under 1.5 degrees of warming. The global community must Addressing both fossil fuel emissions and emissions associated with loss of natural areas and land use.”

Cocoa and palm oil too related to human rights issuesincluding forced labor and child labour.

next to take steps to provide living wages For cocoa farmers, many of them were You pay about $1 a day or lessMajor chocolate manufacturers such as Mars, Nestlé and Hershey have pledged to stop using cocoa harvested by children. But the difficulties in tracing cocoa back to the farms mean that companies often cannot guarantee the production of chocolate without child labour. Reported by Peter Whiskey of The Washington Post and Rachel Siegel in 2019.

Ferguson says the chocolate industry is working on better traceability rates, or knowledge of the source of the product. “It sounds like a very simple thing, but it is actually very difficult to do when you have many smallholder farmers and a long and complex supply chain.”

The world has already pledged to stop deforestation. But trees are still disappearing “at an unsustainable rate”.

In addition, poverty is the basis of many labor issues affecting those involved in the production of chocolate. Farmers often have to use their children because they cannot afford the workers.

“People tend to draw conclusions about the use of children in agriculture, and I think it is important to remember that for many families there is no other option,” says Dimitri.

One of the simplest measures concerned consumers can take, Dimitri says, is to purchase candy that does not use palm oil.

“Palm oil is really popular because it tastes really good and is really inexpensive,” she says. But it is possible to find products without the annoying ingredient.

“A lot of candy companies have tried reformulating their products to not contain palm oil because there is resistance to it,” she adds.

Be sure to check ingredient labels carefully because some products from the same brand will still contain palm oil, even if there are no other ingredients.

Don’t boycott chocolate, buy better

You can buy Halloween candy that doesn’t contain cocoa, but experts warn against boycotting chocolate altogether.

Buchanan says cocoa is mostly produced by individual farmers who run small operations. “If there was no market for cocoa, they would be worse off, so you certainly wouldn’t be dealing with challenges like child labor by cutting out a major source of income.”

Instead, Ferguson says, “reward companies that try to do the right thing and stay engaged.”

Some experts recommend looking for third-party certification labels from groups like fair deal And the Rainforest Alliance Which aims to help distinguish products that meet certain ethical standards. Although this Certificates can be defective And they don’t guarantee a perfect product, they’re often better than nothing, experts say.

“Given the complexities and challenges of what we’ve seen, I think there is a real danger of letting perfection be the enemy of good,” Buchanan says.

Chocolate companies sell “certified cocoa”. But some of these farms use child labor and harm the forests.

However, buying certified chocolate means fewer options — and the candy tends to be more expensive. for example, Tony Chocolonillia company that sells certified fair trade chocolate, offers 100 individually packaged chocolate bars for $48.69. ALTER ECO Also offers certified food products, including 60-count packages of individually wrapped truffles for $49.99.

Higonnet also directs consumers to resources such as Chocolate score card, which surveys major chocolate companies and ranks them based on criteria such as traceability and transparency, livelihood income, child labor, deforestation and climate, among others. According to the 2022 scorecard, many of the major brands selling more affordable candy options are “generally beginning to implement good policies.”

“The best thing, no matter if you’re buying from a big company or a small one, is to push them and ask them what they’re doing to be part of the solution,” Buchanan says. “It’s not as easy as just going to the small niche companies. These companies have their role and they can do things differently the way they do, but they also have a small footprint. We need the big companies too.”

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It’s also important to try to reduce the amount of unrecyclable waste and uneaten candy that gets thrown away. Keep in mind that you can donate unopened Halloween candy to organizations that send treats For Soldiers and First Responders or local community drives. But be sure to check the donation requirements. Homemade items are often not accepted, for example.

Enck of Beyond Plastics says that many candy wrappers are generally not recyclable, which provides Tip Sheet to Shrink Plastic During Halloween. If possible, she suggests buying the candy in bulk and putting it in recyclable paper bags. Some popular candies, such as Nerds, Dots, and Junior Mints, can also come individually packaged in recyclable cardboard boxes.

Although candy doesn’t stay good forever, it can stay safe and edible for longer than you think Gregory Zieglera professor of food studies at Penn State University who specializes in chocolate and confectionery.

“From a safety standpoint, candy is very safe,” Ziegler says. “It has very little moisture for the most part and a lot of sugar is what really protects it from a lot of microbial growth that could make it unsafe.”

But he notes that there is a difference between safe and edible. Most candy has expired because the texture or flavor has changed, which may affect its enjoyment, he says. For example, if chocolate is melted and re-hardened, it can develop a white mold known as bloom, which is not harmful but can cause the candy to taste bad.

Ziegler recommends storing Halloween candy in a dry, sealed container. You can also put the candy in the freezer or refrigerator. “Almost all the reactions that cause candy spoilage slow down as the temperature drops.”

He says most candy should last six months. “If you treat it right, maybe longer than that.”

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