The days are getting shorter and the nights are drawing in. There is a chill wind blowing and the leaves are falling. It is nearly All Hallow’s Eve, a time of witches and ghouls and…tonnes of plastic rubbish. This ancient celebration, which America has supercharged, grows in popularity and environmental impact every year. But Halloween can still be enjoyed without the guilt and the waste.
30m people dress up for Halloween[i] and 7m Halloween costumes are thrown away in the UK each year. Most are made from polyester or other oil-based plastic such as PVC which releases harmful chemicals as it breaks down. Two thousand tonnes of plastic waste is created from clothing and costumes alone, not considering all the plastic accessories, wigs, masks and hats. This is equivalent by weight of waste plastic to 83 million Coca Cola bottles. Not only that, but most are made very cheaply and in all likelyhood unethically.
You could make your own costumes with what you have already, borrow, swap or reuse old ones or get them second hand from charity shops. Local sewing shops will have Halloween fabrics if you have a sewing machine and Pinterest has lots of ideas for costume designs. Or if you are going to a special Halloween party then consider hiring a costume instead.
Cheap plastic Halloween decorations sadly cant be recycled as they are too poor quality. So why not use natural items such as pine cones, colourful autumnal leaves and acorns to decorate with? Or buy or make your decorations out of paper. Candles or tealights in jam jars are also a lovely to set the spooky mood. Otherwise if you don’t have time to make or find paper or natural decorations then you may need to spend a bit more to invest in some good quality, non-plastic items that you can re-use year after year. LED or solar powered lights will cost you less in electricity as well as lowering your carbon footprint. There are lots of ideas on my seasonal zero waste Pinterest board here.
The vast amount of sweets and chocolate that are bought and consumed over Halloween are not only bad for our health but for the planet too. Most come in plastic bags and wrapped individually in plastic too. Foil wrapped chocolate or ones in cardboard like raisins at least can be recycled. Sugar is also a very environmentally damaging crop along with palm oil which is in many chocolate treats, so another good reason to limit naughty treats . A visit to a sweet shop or a pick ‘n’ mix counter will cut out some of this excess packaging. You could also give something useful instead of sugary treats like fun rubbers or spooky pencils. Or have fun making your own treats such as chocolates, biscuits, toffee apples or popcorn that can be given out in paper or cloth bags. You can get fun silicon moulds to make your own chocolates and use them for other seasonal events like valentines and Easter too,
In the UK alone,only 5% of the 10 million pumpkins that are carved out for Halloween are actually eaten. 18,000 tons of pumpkins are left to rot in the UK. All the water and energy that went into growing and transporting those pumpkins is wasted. [i]
Buying locally grown pumpkins means you are supporting local farmers but also reducing those food miles. Make sure you use the flesh that you scoop out of the pumpkin to make some delicious soup or pie and try roasting the seeds with a little salt for a tasty snack. Here are some recipes to try. Put your old pumpkin in your compost bin or food waste collection rather than your waste bin so it can give something back to the earth and not release harmful gases in a landfill site. The same goes with apples for apple bobbing too.
Reusable cutlery, plates, napkins, tablecloths, straws and other table settings not only look nicer but reduce waste and environmental impact. Again investing in some good quality crockery that you can reuse each year makes sense if you can afford it but otherwise be inventive and creative with what you already have. You can find some layout ideas on my fright night Pinterest board here.
Hope you all have a Spooktacular and waste -free Halloween!
#zerowastehalloween #greenhalloween #plasticfreehalloween