Celebrate Halloween with Leave No Trace Ireland
Did you know that Halloween’s origins can be traced back to the Celtic and Gaelic harvest festival Samhain? The connection between Ireland’s outdoor spaces and Halloween is of great cultural and spiritual significance.
In the week leading up to Halloween, we’ve shared on social media how you can apply the Leave No Trace Principles to your Halloween celebrations, and protect the land and heritage of our Gaelic ancestors. Below, you’ll find these seven pieces of eight – I mean advice! – on having a safe and happy halloween.
1. Plan Ahead & Prepare
When heading out around Halloween:
☔️ Check the weather to see if your costume might benefit from a raincoat – it’s no fun being a #soggyspook 👻
🔦 When are you heading out? Do you need a torch or high vis?
📍 Discuss a plan for if someone gets lost
🐾 Keep dogs safe inside or secure on a lead in case of sudden fireworks
2. Travel & Camp on Durable Ground
As we trick and treat our way around the woods, stick to the main paths and trails – even if this means embracing the seasonal mud! The goal is to not cause paths and tracks to become unmanageably wide and wet, degrading the local habitat.
Sticking to our more durable surfaces is essential this time of year, as rain softens the ground, and the root systems that hold it all in place are hibernating 🌲
3. Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife
🦌 Halloween can be a scary time for our pets, wildlife and farm animals
🐈⬛ Make sure pets are kept somewhere safe during the Halloween period, away from loud noises and flashing lights
🧨 Avoid setting off fireworks and loud bangers, especially anywhere that might be close to animals of any kind. When scared, animals are pushed into their “fight or flight” response, and in this panicked state can hurt themselves and those around them, including people ⛑
4. Leave What You Find
🎒If you’re heading into the outdoors this Halloween, leave nature as you found it. Follow our “Pack it in, Pack it out” mantra, where everything we bring with us, we always bring home again. Drinks cans take hundreds of years to break down, can cut wildlife, and visually ruin our outdoor spaces.
🎃 Respect decorations in outdoor spaces and leave them as you find them. This way we all get to enjoy the frightful festive flourishes – and the hard work that others have put into it!
👻 Leave the tricks to the real Pucas, Fomorians and Leprechauns!
5: Dispose of Waste Properly
Halloween comes with a host of decorations that can make us smile or spook us, as well as sweets and snacks galore! 🍬
This year why not try and be as #PlasticFree as possible, buying reusable decorations you can store for next year, and avoiding individually wrapped treats 🥜
Remember to also check which materials go in which bins on mywaste.ie so that all our recycling is safe, and all other materials go to where they are best managed!
6: Be Considerate of Others
Halloween can be an overwhelming time for many – bangers, fireworks, and loud music. We ask everyone to think about how their celebrating might impact others.
🐶 Are there animals nearby that might be scared by these noises?
🎧 Can anyone else hear my music?
🌱 Who’s land am I on? Is what I’m doing damaging the land?
7. Minimise the Effects of Fire
During the festival of Samhain, Gaelic and Celtic people believed that the lines between this world and the next were at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through – Spooky!
While the spirits of ancestors were welcomed, evil spirits were warded off by the living by dressing in costumes and lighting fires.
Bonfires are a significant element of the Halloween tradition and has incredible cultural significance. But bonfires can also be dangerous and have big impacts to the environment too.
🔥 Only light a fire on your own land
🔥 Use the leave no trace fire building methods to protect the earth
🔥 Follow the four D’s of firewood: Down (on the ground) – Dead – Dinky (smaller than your forearm) – and Dry.
🔥 Have enough water close at hand to put the fire out completely when needed
🔥 Never light fires in forests or public spaces
🔥 Toast the marshmallows, but don’t burn the packaging. Burning plastics releases toxic fumes into the air and your food. Bag and bin all packaging.
📖 If you want to celebrate Halloween with a fire this year, read our Leave No Trace Skills and Ethics handbook on how to safely light a campfire, protecting you and the environment around you (Page 21).
📖 Remember, bonfires and fireworks are illegal in the Republic of Ireland. Always follow the advice from the Irish Fire & Emergency Services Association on Halloween, as well as from An Garda Síochána Halloween Advice.
📖 In Northern Ireland, follow the Bonfire, Fireworks and Halloween safety advice from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.