This week we appeared on a BBC radio station talking about the single use plastic (and other) waste generated by Halloween every year.
In the UK alone, Halloween costumes and accessories are responsible for 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste, equivalent to 83 million plastic bottles. And, shockingly, 90% of the Halloween costumes we buy contain plastic while half are only worn once. Now that is frightening!
Here are our tips for a plastic free and more environmentally friendly Halloween…
Trick or retreat?
First of all, do you really need to pace the streets in search of treats or can you mark Halloween in a different way?
Enjoy a scary family film with some homemade popcorn or snacks, plan a Halloween themed day out (many attractions now offer them), get crafting or play some party games? You could bob for apples and throw in some toffee, share ghost stories, make paper spider’s webs or glass jam jar lanterns and enjoy some quality time together.
When the doorbell rings
If you can, try to hand out chocolate or sweets that aren’t wrapped in plastic or at least aim to cut back on the packing involved. The majority of big brand offerings are unfortunately wrapped in plastic, sometimes several times over, meaning that we use millions of plastic bags and wrappers during Halloween.
Options, that are either plastic free or at least result in less waste, include foil wrapped chocolate balls or coins, Divine’s mini chocolates, Friars’ Halloween range, Chocoholics treats and foil wrapped Lindt balls or Ferrero Rocher. Remember to save your foil until you have a tennis ball sized amount that can be scrunched together to make it more easily recyclable.
Or why not fill a reusable container with loose pick n’ mix and then divide it into small paper bags that can be handed out to trick or treaters. Better still, give out a piece of fruit or some homemade goodies and enjoy doing some baking with the kids.
You might even be able to come up with some good ideas for alternative giveaways – think about what your kids and their friends enjoy… Maybe an item of (plastic free) stationery, a bookmark, keyring, paper aeroplane or wooden yoyo.
If you’re hell-bent (no pun intended) on buying Halloween costumes, accessories or decorations, aim to buy ones that you can reuse time and time again.
Consider hiring outfits from a local fancy dress shop, or whether you can swap costumes with friends and family members?
Alternatively, have some fun making costumes with the kids. Use an old bed sheet, raid your wardrobe for unwanted items or check out a local charity shop. You could even skip the outfits entirely and simply have fun painting each other’s faces?
60% of Britons who carve a pumpkin at Halloween admit to not eating its inners – obviously a tremendous waste considering that we get through nearly ten million of them at this time of year. That results in a potential 28 million tonnes of easily avoidable and unnecessary food waste.
Instead, why not turn your pumpkin into a delicious soup, roast it or make a tasty pie… and only then, pop any leftovers in your food waste collection. Avoid leaving the leftovers out in your garden or local woods for wildlife to finish off as Pumpkin can be harmful to some animals (for example hedgehogs) and also upset the natural balance. You can instead dig a big hole and cover it over, leaving the worms to enjoy it.
You can find us on Facebook by searching for Plastic Free Home or at http://www.facebook.com/plasticfreehomeuk.