For many of us, Halloween is an autumnal highlight - but when it comes to waste, this spooky celebration is also pretty frightful for the planet. Here, our charity partner City to Sea (an environmental organisation on a mission to stop plastic pollution) shares tips for keeping the plastic monsters at bay this scary season.
We love fancy dress as much as the next trick or treater. But many Halloween costumes have a very short shelf life. In 2016, research found that 7 million of them were thrown away, contributing to 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste. That’s the equivalent of 83 million plastic bottles – a pretty scary stat indeed!
In 2019, the environmental charity Hubbub also found that more than 39 million families dress up for Halloween in the UK and 90% of families buy new costumes every year. According to their research, the majority of these costumes (69%) are made up of polyester, a fabric made from oil-based plastic, and 2 in 5 are only worn once before being thrown into landfill.
It’s not just plastic waste that Halloween generates. Last year it is estimated that 39.9 million pumpkins were bought in the UK to celebrate Halloween. According to Hubbub's research, almost half of these - around 14.5 million – came to the sticky end of being wasted. That’s a lot of pumpkin soup!
So, what things can you do this Halloween to avoid being part of the problem?
1. Shop your own wardrobe for an original spooky look 🧟♂️
For Halloween outfits that don’t cost the earth, it’s best to reuse and repurpose what you already own. It’s better for the planet and your pocket, so get creative with your existing wardrobe (or shop secondhand / swap with your friends). The best bit? Nobody else will have the same outfit so it’s a win-win!
2. Make your own treats (with added tricks) 👻
If you’re getting provisions in for trick or treaters it can be difficult to avoid generating lots of packaging waste. Avoid individually wrapped, multipack sweets and go for options that come loose in a bag instead – visit your local zero waste shop and see what's in store. Or make your own sweet treats instead. Think: biscuits or cakes decorated as spooky characters or even gross bugs or body parts – a true treat disguised as a trick ;-)
3. Create a haunted house the natural way 🏚
Dressing up the house is always fun, especially if you're expecting guests. Unfortunately, lots of the decorations out there are plastic. So why not swerve the fake spider webs and go au naturel when it comes to Halloween-ifying your house? Step outsdide and collect leaves, conkers and branches for an authentic autumnal look. Or why not check out your local community groups to see if anyone has some second hand decs lying around that you can re-use?
4. Eat your
greens oranges 🎃
If you choose to display a pumpkin, avoid unnecessary food waste by using all the parts you carve or scoop out. They're tasty AND nutritious, so try them in soups, curries, pies and roasts (or try this warming lentil stew recipe).
Remember to dispose of your carved pumpkins properly, too. They can be composted, put out for the birds or disposed of in food waste collections – that goes for all the lovely colourful gourds adding a touch of autumn class to your Halloween house display.
So gourd luck – and happy Halloween if you celebrate it!
We've partnered with City To Sea's award-winning campaign, Refill, to help people live with less plastic. By giving £10 from every Refill X Chilly’s bottle, coffee cup or food pot bought, our partnership has helped Refill stop over 100 million plastic bottles from entering our waste stream every year.