Here is permission to throw away your leftover Halloween candy

Throw it away.
Throw it away.
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I bought too much Halloween candy this year. After wondering whether I could repurpose it in some way, I finally settled on the perfect leftover Halloween candy hack: I threw it all away.

This isn’t the kind of clever household fix that uses a binder clip to straighten a tangle of cords or produces powdered sugar in a spice grinder. It’s a shift in perception.

Food waste is a huge problem. It clogs landfills and emits greenhouse gases as it decomposes. The impulse to avoid throwing away food is a good one. Candy, though, is not food.

Candy is composed entirely of empty calories, most of them in the form of sugar. It provides nothing your body needs to feel energetic and well nourished. Sugar is heavily subsidized in the US, and related to many public health concerns, from cardiovascular disease to diabetes and depression. We eat (and produce) too much of it, especially young children.

I’m pro-treat—I bake with my kids at least once a week. But there’s more to it than just dessert. We spend time making something delicious together, learning how to measure and wait patiently. Most of our favorite recipes have some actual nutrition in the mix, like apples, oatmeal, or nuts.

In the same way that baking isn’t simply about sweets, Halloween is more than just candy.

As my husband and I ferried our son from one house to another this year, reminding him to say thank you, and cracking up each time he struck up a conversation with another child dressed as a skeleton, as though they were colleagues from the Bones Division of Samhain Inc., it reminded me that holidays are about more than marketing. They’re a break from the routine that can be a sort of social glue.

On Halloween I told a woman whose perennial wonderland of a yard I always admire how lovely her little house is, and I found out that she works at the local elementary school. I wished another neighbor luck on her state senate race as she held out a bowl of chocolate for trick-or-treaters. I discovered that someone I saw speak at a conference last year lives a 10-minute walk from me.

The pop culture explanation of Halloween is that it marks a moment in the year when the barrier between the human and the supernatural is especially thin—the veil between the worlds in spooky talk. No matter your stance on the spirit world, Halloween invites neighbors into each others’ homes, for a moment at least. It gives you a reason to cross the barrier of everyday life and connect. Candy is just the conduit for that.

Unless you’re inviting a neighbor over for a cup of coffee and a leftover Snickers, throw it away. You already got the true value out of it anyway.