It’s impossible not to notice giant piles of candy on display around certain times of the year. And each piece of individually wrapped candy means a lot of plastic waste left over. According to Nielsen Research, almost $2 billion (or 598 million pounds) of candy is sold during the Halloween season alone. Not to mention all the candy for the rest of the holidays!
Here are some ideas on how you can put fewer candy wrappers in the garbage this year.
If you’re the person buying candy and you’re just buying candy for a party or for your family, choose candy that comes in more recycle-friendly (aluminum foil or paper) packaging, or buy larger sized pieces rather than a bag full of individually wrapped stuff. Of course, if you’re buying candy to hand out to little trick-or-treaters, you’ll want the smaller, wrapped pieces.
Chances are, especially if you’re taking kids trick-or-treating, by the end of Halloween night you’re going to have a load of candy wrappers from many different candy products. And don’t get us started about the mounds of chocolate for Valentine’s Day!
Send ‘em In
If your candy wrappers are made by Mars/Wrigley or Cadbury, then great news! You can mail your wrappers to TerraCycle, where they will be remade into cool products. Even better- TerraCycle will pay for your shipping, and donate 2 cents for each candy wrapper to a charity of your choice. Sign up and either start a new Candy Wrapper Brigade Team or join one in your area. Get your school or community organization involved! And don’t forget to check out the neat items that TerraCycle makes from those candy wrappers.
If your candy wrappers are made by some other company, then your main option to keep those plastic bits out of the trash are to get creative.
The shoulder bags pictured below are handmade in Mexico from recycled foil candy wrappers. They say that you can still smell the slight lingering scent of the candy!Nahui Ollin makes bags, wallets, and cell phone cases. I love how they used wrapper bar codes as a pattern! The goods at Nahui Ollin are also produced under Fair Trade and Sweatshop free practices in Mexico.
An Unexpected Use for Candy Wrappers
Candy wrapper (as well as plastic bottle and some other stuff) bricks have also been government-approved for use in public housing. Argentina’s Experimental Center for Economical Housing (Centro Experimental de la Vivienda Económica – CEVE) developed a brick and built test-houses comprised primarily of candy wrappers. The resulting bricks are lighter and cost half as much as conventional bricks, but are comparable in terms of water and fire resistance, with good heat and sound insulation properties. The CEVE project hires unemployed 18-24 year-olds to make the bricks, and participants can use the bricks to build their own mini-houses.
Check out our article on folding paper crafts to see how to make flower petals and butterflies out of candy wrappers origami-style.
Choosing some of the ethical, fashionable items above is a great way to close the recycling loop and show that it’s not just the candy that can be sweet!