Happy Halloween! We, in North America have taken the celebration of ghosts, goblins and monsters to an extreme, and on October 31st we will be ringing in this festive and spooky holiday in a myriad of ways. I recently finished watching the “Terminator” movie series with my son. “Timely” in a way, as we get ready for Halloween, given that all the movies in the series focus on scary creatures. I know, you are thinking that my son is not quite 12. The movies are filled with a lot of murder, monster and mayhem. I figured though, not much more gruesome than some of the electronic games he plays with his friends, much to my pacifist chagrin. Knowing my son, he would find a way to watch the movie without me. So, I choose to watch the whole series with him, as a kind of ghoulish bonding experience, and was reminded that there is a message, sort of in the movies, as they subtly and some times not so subtly point out humankind’s responsibility to care for, and to rescue our world and us.
In watching the Terminator movies, I felt that we Climate Mamas and Papas are a bit like the character of Sarah Connor who was the mother of John, the “savior” of the human race. There is overwhelming evidence available to anyone who wants to see it – we humans are destroying our planet. Like Sarah, we know that the “monsters” are lurking. In our case we know that we are changing our ecosystems and heating up our world through our thoughtless emissions of greenhouse gases and our wasteful consumerism. We too often close our eyes and pretend we can’t see.
Not to put a crimp on Halloween, as in most cases our celebrations are harmless. Or are they? There is a line that runs through the Terminator movies, “No fate but what we make”. How in North America, did we turn a harvest festival and the occasion to tell a few good ghost stories, into a mass consumerism event? We in America “do things up big”, Halloween being no exception. The holiday has turned into a marketer’s dream. We buy cards for friends, we buy new costumes for our children, and we purchase as many “crazy, scary and festive” decorations as we can, rivaled only by how we decorate for the winter holidays. In the northeast US, if you “don’t” decorate for Halloween, you are almost considered a “scrooge”. We haven’t even talked about the candy and other goodies we give out (in single use containers no less – so no one can accuse us of “tampering” with the goodies). Which side of the looking glass are we looking thru, have we made our fate?
Lets flip the picture and look to the positive and come up with ways to heal our world one small step at a time. What about recycling yours and your kid’s costumes, exchanging them with friends for a “new costume” for next year or think about giving the costume to a school or a camp or a used clothing store. Just because the Halloween magazines start coming in August, doesn’t mean you have to succumb to your kid’s demands to get a new costume each year. I fell under that spell for all too long!! And what about saving those great decorations and reusing them. Compost, eat or give away the vegetables you display instead of letting them rot on the front porch. Be inventive, be creative. As we in America top off another land fill with our garbage, and pollute our waterways with our leftovers our plant’s ability to recover continues to be compromised. And we aren’t even talking about all that methane gas that collects in those landfills and what harm this potent greenhouse gas can do when it is released into our atmosphere. Ghosts and goblins are lurking all year around, not just on Halloween. As you celebrate this holiday, engage your children and your grandchildren and consider more sustainable ways to celebrate all our holidays. Food for thought?