In the UK, it is estimated that we will spend a total of £777m on Halloween this year, up 13 per cent from an estimated £687m in 2022. Not to mention that of the 17 million pumpkins we buy, 14.5 million go to waste after October 31.
A terrifying quantity of costumes are purchased each year, many to be worn only once and it is estimated that seven million of them will end up in the bin. It is calculated that 83 per cent of the material used is from oil-based plastic, usually polyester. Instead, why not swap a costume with a friend, or find a second-hand costume on sites such as Ebay, Olio, Depop, Freecycle, etc, or in the charity shops. Here’s a novel suggestion found on the internet – draw a skeleton onto black clothes with chalk! Make minor adjustments to last year’s costume to change it up. You could even rent a costume.
Planning to paint your face? It might be worth checking the ingredients as face paints sometimes contain toxic ingredients, which can cause skin irritation and allergies for both children and adults. Plus, if you have any lurking in the cupboard from last year, it might be safer to throw them away. Search out more eco-friendly alternatives.
If you are having a party, why not go for making your own decorations, bake your own cakes and iced biscuits and serve them up on re-useable plates/dishes with drinks poured into multi-use cups. Even paper plates are wasteful as they cannot be recycled if they are smeared with food and can only be binned. Some even have a thin film of plastic on them. Avoid plastic wrapped sweets which just create more waste – why not visit the local sweet shop?
How are we helping the planet and ourselves by doing these things? We are making a contribution to the saving of about 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste from costumes alone, which are normally thrown away at Halloween. And there’s the additional waste from food packaging, party decorations, balloons, sweet wrappings, cheap one-off plastic toys, disposable cutlery and crockery to take into account. What a scary amount of waste! Let’s plan to avoid “double, double toil and trouble” for the earth.
[Please do not dump your pumpkins in the countryside or leave them to rot in your garden as they can make wildlife extremely ill. Dispose of them in food waste or bury under 20cm of soil. Fake cobwebs are also a death trap for birds and small animals. Please don’t use the stuff! Ed]