Halloween may miss out to Christmas on being the most wonderful time of the year, but it can still be a lot of fun. Enjoying a scary film, throwing a Halloween party, or dressing up for work or school are all ways to get in the spooky spirit.
While we all enjoy a good scare, to some people the most sinister thing about Halloween is the waste it causes. Costumes and decorations are often made from damaging materials and are bought for a single use then thrown away without a thought.
It is estimated 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste (the equivalent of 83 million plastic bottles) is generated by sales of Halloween costumes each year. Meanwhile, 40% of consumers buy pumpkins to make jack o’lanterns with 8 million of them ending up in landfill.
So if you’re frightened of the environmental cost of Halloween then fear not, because Go Eco has a ghoulish guide on how to have a sustainable scary season.
Halloween costumes from supermarkets or fancy dress shops are often cheaply made and may be bought with the intention of only wearing them once. These eerie outfits are usually made from fabrics such as polyester which include synthetic fibres. Materials like this will not biodegrade, could end up in landfill and when washed will release damaging microplastics which end up in our water cycle. Likewise, gory and frightening masks are made from latex or other types of plastic and will pollute the environment once discarded after a Halloween party.
This year, why not ditch the novelty costumes and make your own? Vintage shops often have a wide selection of clothes that can be made into scary costumes, you can always recycle old clothes you have around the house, or repurpose other fabrics. Turning an old sheet into a ghost may seem a bit cliche, but other options include a straw stuffed scarecrow or a spooky bride (provided you make a trip to the right charity shop). Face paint also works instead of a mask, just make sure to avoid polluting glitters, biodegradable glitter can be bought here.
Cheap, plastic decorations? No thanks, this year we recommend making your own petrifying party pieces. Our suggestions fall into perishable and non-perishable, with the latter able to be stored for reuse every October.
Perishable ideas include collecting leaves from your garden to create an autumnal aesthetic, or stringing up gourds (little pumpkins) around the house. When it comes to that all important jack o’lantern, make your own and make sure it’s locally sourced! You can even pick your own pumpkin at one these top 40 sites across the UK for the perfect family activity.
Non-perishable ideas are mostly centred around paper and card, get those scissors out and get crafty! Buy a stack of coloured card and cut out some seasonal bats, lanterns and ghosts to stick around your house. Another top tip is turning laddered old tights (once you’ve washed them) into spider webs. Come November 1st simply pack them all away and place them in your loft ready for next year.
Trick or Treating
Single use plastic can be difficult to avoid when it comes to buying sweets for trick or treaters and we won’t lie, the options are scarce. There are sites available where you can pre-order sweets in paper bags to hand out, or you can get a few and have fun making your own little pick and mixes. Another route (if you have time) is to do your own baked goods like a classic gingerbread man or even make your own toffee apples to hand out to kids. We guarantee it’ll be different and they’ll remember you!
When it comes to cleaning up
Recycle, recycle, recycle! If you’ve been sticking to our tips then you should only have paper and organic materials to either recycle or throw away.
Any straw, leftover gourds and pumpkins can be composted, make sure you remember to remove any staples or sellotape from paper before putting it in your recycling for collection as well. A fun tip for old jack o’lanterns is to break them up and drive into the countryside or woods to leave them out for local wildlife. They make great meals for rural residents like birds and even deer in the harsh November climate. The worst thing to do is throw them in the bin, food waste in landfill is a major source of the greenhouse gas methane!
Happy Green Halloween everyone!