‘Trick Or Treat’ Toxic For The Environment? How You Can Be Green On Halloween

“Trick or Treat” used to be a Halloween staple, but after horror stories of razorblades in hard candies and rat poison lollipops, a lot of the activity has moved off the streets and into “safe Halloween” trick or treat events. But while organizing secure trick or treating affairs helps keep kids safe, critics say that Halloween candy itself is causing harm through negative environmental effects, reported The Huffington Post.

The culprit behind the climate-change inducing side effects of trick or treating is palm oil. Chances are the ingredient has made its way into whatever you are handing out to trick or treaters this year — a huge chunk of your local supermarket’s products contain it, according to The Huffington Post.

“Highly versatile and inexpensive, this vegetable oil is a globally traded commodity found in 50 percent of processed products sold in the supermarket — everything from laundry detergent and shampoo, to pizza dough and name-brand candies and chocolates. Listed using many different names, its presence is often difficult to detect. In the last decade, global production of palm oil has doubled, and given the rise of consumer power in India and China, palm oil production is expected to double again.”

Negative environmental effects of palm oil extend far beyond the areas where the phrase “Trick Or Treat” is likely to be heard. Latin America, West Africa, and Asia have also been negatively effected by the cultivation of palm oil, but the countries of Indonesia and Malaysia are taking the brunt of its deleterious influence on the world. Around 90 percent of total palm oil production takes place in the region.

In order to carry out cost-effective operations, rain forests are burned to the ground — threatening extinct animal species and pumping extreme amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. In fact, peatlands, many of which are being illegally scorched, have been shown to continue releasing carbon for scores of years, long after trick or treaters have grown into adulthood.

But that doesn’t mean you have to turn trick or treaters away just to protect the rainforest. There are small business alternatives that scrupulously watch where their palm oil is sourced from, such as Endangered Species Chocolate or Justin’s. However, it might not be that long before even the cheapest of grocery store Halloween candy — what most people hand out to trick or treaters — is made with the same care of the planet in mind. Think Progress reported that Dunkin’ Donuts, Nestlé, Krispy Kreme, and Hershey have all begun to take more care about the source of their palm oil.

Will you greet “Trick Or Treat” with environmentally friendly candy this year?

[Images via Flickr]