It’s great. It’s sweet. It’s there for you on those days that you throw in the towel, then realize it’s not even noon (and I’ve had a lot of those).
Just around the corner is Halloween, one of the biggest days for American candy companies, and those candy companies will be there for you. Whether you want to pretend you’re not home while trick-or-treaters bang on your door, chew on some snickers with a scary movie, or steal a Reese’s cup out of a relative’s overflowing plastic pumpkin, candy will most likely be around.
But is candy, our beloved friend who makes so many of us ask, “is a gym membership reeeeeeally worth it?”, as good to the environment as it is to us?
Well to find out, let’s talk chocolate.
While chocolate is a fan-favorite to many, farming practices surrounding chocolate are not liked by anyone. Since cocoa beans are a slow-growing crop (sometimes taking up to a full year to harvest), farmers need lots of land to ensure they can make enough money to support themselves year round. When more land is necessary, many farmers simply chop down new forests rather than reuse old land, a practice which contributes to large-scale deforestation. It’s speculated that 70% of all of the deforestation in the Ivory Coast comes from cocoa production, and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping soon.
Deforestation isn’t the only problem caused by mass cocoa production. There are many farmers around the world who are unfamiliar with the best farming practices for cocoa and consequently misuse fertilizers or poorly organize their farms. These unfortunate mistakes can lead to water waste and contribute to agricultural pollution.
Knowing this about chocolate, you may find yourself leaning towards the fruit flavored candies. The question is, however, are Skittles really going to be better than M&M’s?
Short answer: No. Long answer: Noooooooooooooooo.
While chocolate has its vices, many fruit candies are laden with chemicals. Gum, which was once derived from tree sap, has today become highly synthetic. Carrying things such as petroleum-based waxes, or even industrial rubber, gums are far from environmentally friendly. While gums are not necessarily designed to be consumed, consumers should know that the gum you put in your mouth comes from the same substances in candles, shoe heels or even car tires.
Other fruit-flavored candies are hardly better. If you’re a fan of these candies and can’t bear to part with them, you may want to stop reading now.
So what about my fruity-favorite Skittles; are they safe? Titanium Dioxide, the same chemical which absorbs and refracts UV rays in sunlight is what you can expect to bite into here. Needless to say, it isn’t great for you, and when exposed to dirt the chemical naturally stunts the soil’s ability to retain nitrogen. Skittles aren’t the only villain though, with many so-called “fruit flavored” candies carrying dyes such as red #40, which is amongst other things is created from coal byproducts.
Now that you’ve heard the horror story of what you’re giving out for Halloween, you may find yourself considering giving out apples and health food bars. What if I told you those were bad too? Well, they’re fine, actually… I’m just trying to save you before you become “that guy” in your neighborhood.
That said, it may surprise you learn, after everything above, that not all candies are created equal. Giving out candy while knowing it’s secretly a sugared shoe heel can be hard, but handing out healthy, environmentally friendly apples can leave your house vulnerable to TP-ing later in the night. Fortunately, there’s a middle ground, containing good candies which aren’t secretly unused car-products. Here are a few you might want to check out for the upcoming Hallow’s Eve.
- If you’ve got a small neighborhood to feed this Halloween, you may want to check out Justin’s peanut butter cups. Justin’s is a natural food store that focuses on bringing the best kinds of foods to its customers, so in short, no rubber, just candy.
- Glee Gum Pops are another great option. Remember what I said about gum being originally derived from tree saps? With these pops, that’s still true, and they’re an affordable treat if you’ve got a lot of trick or treaters to serve.
- YumEarth Lollipops is another place to seek out eco-friendly candies. The company focuses on healthy lifestyles, and thus make their candies as natural as possible.
Finally, if you’d like to get involved helping the world’s candy become more sustainable and green, why not check out the World Cocoa Foundation, a foundation dedicated to spreading sustainability practices to cocoa farmers and raise awareness about the effects of deforestation because of farming malpractice.
Thanks for reading and have a great (and hopefully green) Halloween!