A survey released this month by Hubbub and Fairyland Trust has found that in the UK, halloween costumes alone generate over two thousand tonnes of plastic waste - the weight of 83 million plastic bottles. The cause for this plastic waste, is plastic based fabrics, such as polyester, which made up 83% of costumes. Other research shows that over 30 million people dress up for halloween with more than 90% of families thinking about buying costumes. This adds up to about 7 million halloween costumes being thrown away each year - the majority not being recycled or reused. So even the small proportion of costumes made of non-plastic materials are ending up in landfill.
This costume waste is in addition to the vast amounts of halloween decor, sweet packaging and pumpkins being wasted every October 31st.
So how do you have a zero waste halloween?
- Wear a costume you already own!
- Buy second hand. Charity shops this time of year are full of halloween attire at a fraction of the cost and producing no waste. Once you're done with it, just give it back to the charity shop for someone else next year.
- Swap costumes with a friend, which is especially good if you have children who keep on growing. How about organising a swap between lots of the children at school? Or between friends at university to keep costs down?
- Shop your own closet and design a costume based around items you already have in your wardrobe, or based on normal clothes items you can buy and wear again.
- Wear a white sheet and just be a ghost!
- Make a costume out of recycled materials and recycle them after use - Who Gives a Crap toilet paper mummy anyones?
- Focus on halloween face paint that you can do with makeup you already own.
Did you know 8 million halloween pumpkins were binned in the UK in 2017, equating to enough portions of pumpkin pie to feed the entire nation this Halloween. Thats's 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin that ends up in the bin each year. That's the same weight as 1,500 double decker buses! So this year join the #pumpkinrescue.
- Toast the pumpkin seeds to make a tasty and healthy snack.
- Use the innards to make a warming pumpkin soup.
- After you have scared your neighbours with your ghoulish pumpkin carving, bring the pumpkin back in a roast it. Use the flesh to make more soup, stews or pumpkin risotto.
- Compost the skins or add to your food waste bin.
- Share your favourite pumpkin recipe on social media to inspire friends and family to reduce their pumpkins too.
- Decorate with things from your recycling bin (or your neighbours) - make a garland of bats from cardboard or make some headstones from old cardboard boxes. Put scrap paper ghosts up at your windows. Then just recycle everything on November 1st like you were originally going to!
- Use chalk pens to draw on glass bottles and jars then use tea lights to light them up with a spooky glow
- Decorate with pumpkin and other gourds (but then remember to eat them after!). You can even make tiny carved oranges if you know that you won't eat the pumpkins you carve.
Trick or Treat
If you get people coming to your house to trick or treat then it's tricky as it's not wise to take unpackaged food from strangers. You can refuse to take part but that may not be an option for everyone. Focus on snacks in recyclable packaging - like sweets in cardboard tubes or boxes. If you're taking children trick or treating, use a pillow case or cloth bag that you can reuse instead of a plastic pumpkin bucket.
However, this halloween remember that what is truly scary is the use of child labour in chocolate production. So this year, lets not feed our children chocolate treats that another child suffered to grow - prioritise slavery free chocolate and Fair-trade chocolate treats, even above plastic free options!
So there you have a few ways to have a less wasteful halloween if you're taking part this year. Just remember to try to refuse what you don't need, reduce what you can't refuse, reuse where you can, recycle your decor and clothes and rot your pumpkin skin once you've eaten it!