Scary stuff

This time last year we appeared on a local BBC radio station talking about the environmental impact of Halloween.

For example, 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 a few tips for a 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? Given the situation, not everyone may want spluttering children at their front door in any case.

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 packaging 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.

Look for plastic free and Fairtrade/slave free options from the likes of Divine or Tony’s Chocolonely, or foil wrapped characters, balls or coins. 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 swap chocolate for a piece of fruit or plastic free fruit based snacks from the likes of Freddie’s Farm.

In normal times, I’d also advocate buying a large plastic free box of pick n’ mix and filling individual recycled paper bags to hand out but you or others may not feel that this is appropriate this year.

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 something useful and plastic free like a pencil, bookmark or wooden yoyo.

Dressing up

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?

The pumpkin

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. Or just give the pumpkin a miss altogether.

You can find us on Facebook by searching for Plastic Free Home or at http://www.facebook.com/plasticfreehomeuk.

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