As the autumn leaves settle on the ground and the darker nights begin to draw in, Halloween is lurking just around the corner. Unfortunately, as well as bringing fun and mischief, Halloween is also carrying its heavy plastic-filled backpack.
The most frightening thing to consider every October is how much the celebrations contribute to unnecessary plastic waste. In 2021, the UK spent approximately £607 million on Halloween, and these purchases include many single-use plastic costumes and decorations.
To make All Hallows Eve a little less terrifying, we must consider how we can prevent plastic waste over the spooky season.
Why is spooky season frightening the planet?
In a world of convenience, consumers are drawn to purchasing polythene costumes, decorations, and individually plastic-wrapped sweets every Halloween. However, single-use plastic waste can cause a great deal of pollution.
Harmful plastics can be found in wigs, cosmetics, clothing, and sweet wrappers. These plastic products are sourced from plastics that use non-renewable sources, such as gas, oil, and coal, which heat the planet. What’s more, the final products tend to stick around in the environment for years after one use.
Plastic Pollution Makeup and Polyethylene
Polyethylene is one of the most used microplastics in cosmetic products, especially when it comes to Halloween makeup. It’s an ingredient that forms microbeads and is used to hold other product ingredients together once applied.
Products like latex zombie skin, liquid latex, and plastic eye contacts contain polyethylene and, after a single use, are discarded into landfills. This is a product you should avoid if possible and opt for eco-friendly alternatives. Look out for non-toxic glycerine-based products for face painting if your inspiration involves heavy makeup. There are also a few brands out there which offer eco-friendly makeup alternatives, such as greenerbeauty and peacewiththewild.
How to save money (and the planet) this Halloween
During this time of year, it is incredibly tempting to pop into your local supermarket and purchase a basket full of brand-new Halloween decorations. Sadly, most of these decorations will be sourced from plastic — if not, they will be packaged in it.
However, there are ways you can still get involved with the spooky frivolities of Halloween without causing further harm to the planet.
Halloween decorations are mostly single-use and often pollute the planet when they end up in landfills. To prevent plastic waste, you could save decorations to use again next year or sell them. Facebook Marketplace can be a wonderful place to list your items for sale and help others purchase second-hand for less.
Whatever you choose, ensure you make the most of any decorations before throwing them away. If you’re looking for new decorations, consider creating your own from old clothes or materials you plan to recycle. Alternatively, use items you can compost, such as pumpkins, squashes, twigs, and autumnal leaves. You can pull some inspiration from Pinterest to create cheap, unique, and sustainable options. This will also help get you in the spooky mood!
Eco-friendly Halloween costumes
There are various ways you can responsibly source your fit. Here are some ways to save money and be gentler on the planet this Halloween.
Browse charity shops – Charity shops are a great place to find a Halloween costume. They receive donations all year round, including costumes, which they shelve around the end of September to allow people to prepare. Buying second-hand also extends the life of a piece of clothing by an extra two years on average.
Rent an outfit – If you want to go all out, you can rent a Halloween outfit. Renting is a fantastic way to dress more sustainably. Retailers like Mad Hatter Fancy Dress offer some great options, ranging from classic spooky outfits to characters from movies.
Get Crafting – DIY Halloween costumes are a fun project to keep yourself busy during the darker nights. Getting dramatic with Halloween looks and some old clothes which can be upcycled or repurposed, it’s possible to create your own original Halloween look.
Host a clothes swap – Gather your friends and host a clothes swap. It’s interesting to see how you can use a piece of clothing and style it differently. Look at your friends’ clothes for inspiration on a new fit.
Homemade Halloween treats
Halloween treats are typically wrapped with single-use plastic packaging, which largely can’t be recycled. Avoid these kinds of sweets if you can. You can give out treats in cardboard or strong paper packaging for your spooky trick-or-treaters or hand them out in paper Halloween treat bags.
If you are throwing a Halloween party, resist over-purchasing food and cater to just those you know are attending. Cover leftovers with a plate, place them in the fridge to keep fresh, and eat them over the next few days. Try to avoid using plastic cutlery where you can, as this is just as bad for the environment.
Make the most out of your pumpkin
If you are undecided about painting or carving your pumpkin, it is usually better to stick with traditional carving, as once painted, you can’t compost a painted pumpkin.
Pumpkins are entirely edible, including the seeds. Sadly, more this isn’t widely known 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins are thrown away every year (equivalent to 360 million portions of pumpkin pie).
This doesn’t have to be the case, however, as there are plenty of things you can make with pumpkin, including pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, and delicious pumpkin cakes. When it comes to baking with pumpkin ingredients, the possibilities are endless. Once you have made the most out of your pumpkin, your home compost bin will enjoy the rest, and your pumpkin will be zero waste.
There are many ways to recycle your Halloween goodies. An estimated 7 million Halloween outfits were discarded. Even if consumers kept their spooky attire, washing the synthetic materials creates particles that release tiny plastic microfibres into our rivers and oceans, which is equally bad for the planet.
Recycling your Halloween goodies can be great if you use the tips and tricks suggested. If you need to purchase decorations, try to avoid plastics, and make your choices based on materials with potential to use again. If you can store them away after Halloween like you would your Christmas decorations, you can use them for many years after.