Halloween is frightfully good fun, but the toll it takes on the environment can be downright terrifying. Cheap costumes, plastic sweet wrappers, single-use decorations… almost everything about the holiday is designed to be disposable, adding to the planet’s mounting waste problem.
But there are plenty of ways to make sure waste is not the scariest thing about your ghoulish celebrations. Here are our top tips for a much greener Halloween.
Pumpkins are as synonymous with Halloween as Santa is with Christmas, but they’re a massive source of food waste at this time of year. Around 12.8 million pumpkins are carved and then wasted at Halloween – equivalent to 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin waste. This is enough to feed pumpkin pie to everyone in the UK! Also, pumpkins that end up in landfill release methane, which has 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide.
Instead of throwing pumpkin flesh away, use it to make a tasty pie, stew or soup. Love Food Hate Waste has a great range of recipes – many of which are really easy and can be done with kids. Not keen on the flavour? Use the pumpkin flesh to whip up an organic beauty treatment. Pumpkins are bursting with vitamins and enzymes that will nourish skin and revitalise hair. Beauty blog Byrdie has a range of pampering pumpkin recipes, from hair masks to lip scrubs.
Even more of a zero waste tip is to use non-toxic markers or water-based, natural mineral paints to draw on pumpkins and not carve them at all! That way they last for much longer and you’ll be able to use much more of it for food. You could even glitter up your pumpkin eco-friendly style, with some compostable glitter that can be washed off after use. 🎃🦄
Dressing up is the cornerstone of modern-day Halloween celebrations, but many of us opt for cheap and cheerful costumes made from non-recyclable material that are barely sturdy enough to withstand the night, never mind multiple wears. In fact, an estimated 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste – equivalent to 83m bottles – is generated from throwaway Halloween clothing every year in the UK.
Instead of splashing out on another store-bought costume that’ll end up in the bin, consider:
- Renting one from a costume shop. These are usually pretty high quality, so you’ll stand out from the usual cheap and tacky fancy dress.
- Swapping with friends. Raid a friend’s dressing up box and let them do the same.
- Getting creative when putting together a costume with items you already own. You don’t really need to buy a pre-packaged ‘witch’s outfit’ if you already have a similar black dress. Similarly, use your lipstick for blood effect, rather than buy fake blood in plastic tubs.
- Always always using only compostable glitter to avoid adding to microplastic pollution.
Trick or Treating
This year’s Trick or Treating will likely still look a little different than usual because of COVID-19, so individually-wrapped sweets and chocolates are a necessary evil. But you can limit your impact in this area by at least choosing treats that are Fairtrade, so you can be sure they’ve been sourced and produced in the most ethical way possible. And if your kids will be hitting the streets, send them out with a reusable bucket or pillow case to collect their haul.
Choose your decorations with care, and opt for items that can be reused in the coming years, or at least easily recycled. A ceramic skull lantern will get multiple uses, for example, and a string of paper ghosts can be recycled. A plastic pumpkin garland or PVC door decorations, on the other hand, will soon be heading to landfill.
Better still, ditch the store-bought stuff altogether and go on a pre-party walk to gather up sticks, branches, dried leaves and dead flowers. Add some creepy mood lighting and voilà, an authentic and unsettling atmosphere that’s far spookier than novelty skeletons and plastic bunting!