Halloween can be actually quite a wasteful holiday, with over-consumption of food, pumpkin carving and plastic waste.
Scarily, seven million Halloween costumes are thrown away every year, which works out at around 2.079 million tonnes of brand-new plastics being left to rot, slowly, in landfill sites.
Here’s an even scarier story... a recent survey by Fairyland Trust and Hubbub found that Halloween generates over 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste from clothes and costumes in the UK alone. The report says that the UK is spending a whopping £300 million a year on Halloween-related paraphernalia, with an estimated 55% of the population buying new clothing, especially for the day.
And there’s even more to this bad horror story... food waste from pumpkin carving, single-use plastic waste from trick-or-treat sweets, disposable paper, foil and plastic decorations and toxic face paints.
In a world in which we’re all trying to become more mindful about the planet, there’s no reason environmentally-conscious thinking can’t be extended to Halloween, too. With that in mind, we’ve come up with some tips to help you make sure that you stay green this Halloween.
Cut down on your carving footprint
According to the Guardian, more than half of pumpkin-buyers throw away the flesh after carving it out of the middle and around 8 million pumpkins ended up in landfill after Halloween last year. Repurpose your pumpkin flesh into a seasonal recipe like pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup (we love this recipe from The Happy Pear), and you can dry out and roast the seeds to create a deliciously nutty topping to any soup or salad for the weeks to come. Finally, when Halloween is over, put your pumpkin into the brown bin, not the black.
Limit individually-wrapped treats
Sweets are one of the great joys of Halloween for trick-or-treating kids and sweet-toothed adults alike, but individually-wrapped sweets and chocolate create a massive plastic waste problem, and when packed with palm oil, this leads to a destructive impact on animal habitats. This year, try and source sweets wrapped in recyclable paper. This will limit packaged options for now, but it looks as though sustainable mainstream sweet wrappers could be commonplace in the near future. For example, Nestle and Mars have both pledged to make 100 percent of their packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.
You can take your eco-friendly Halloween a step further and buy ‘accidentally vegan’ treats like Jelly Tots, Skittles, Millions, Starbursts and Veggie Percy Pigs. Try ethical Fairtrade chocolate too so you can ensure cocoa farmers weren’t exploited.
Choose decorations made to last
Rather than using plastic, paper and foil to decorate your house this year, opt for all-natural foraged options like pinecones, twigs, pumpkins and leaves. But if you’re determined to stick to the tombstones-and-cauldrons aesthetic, forgo disposable plastic decorations and make your own DIY decor with existing household items, like bunting from old bed linen, spider webs from basic string, cut-out skeletons from scrap paper. Alternatively, if you're not of the creative mind - invest in durable products that you’ll want to use year after year. Think glass lanterns, autumnal wreaths and fabric bats.