The scariest thing about Halloween isn’t the ghoulish costumes, trick or treating in the dark or haunting parties – it’s the plastic.
With 83 per cent of Halloween costumes made using non-recyclable oil-based plastics, according to environmental group Hubbub, it’s clear that Halloween is taking a terrifying toll on the environment. Its research reveals that seven million costumes hit the bin each year in Britain alone – equating to 83 million plastic bottles.
However, with a bit of extra thought, you can enjoy the spooky fun while also being kinder to the planet. Here are our top five tips for a sustainable Halloween.
1. Make your own costumes or swap with friends
By far the biggest source of plastic waste at Halloween is the costumes. With them all on display as soon as you walk into every supermarket, it’s hard to avoid the temptation to buy a new one every year. But before you do, take a look around your house first to see if there’s anything you can use from last year.
If you do have to think of something new, instead of reaching for a plastic Frankenstein mask, vampire fangs or witchy fingers, try a costume that looks just as creepy while being plastic-free. You could wrap yourself head to toe in toilet paper to be a Mummy (something the kids are guaranteed to enjoy!), cover yourself in a spooky sheet to make a ghost or get creative with your make-up, and some old black tights for a tail, to become a black cat.
Not only is making your own costume a lot of fun and better for the environment, it will also save you money. If you don’t fancy going down the DIY route or just don’t have the time, see if you can swap costumes with friends. This way, you get rid of Halloween costumes that you don’t want (or the kids have grown out of) and can reuse an outfit that’s more than likely only been worn once.
2. Share your Halloween makeup kits
Cheap Halloween make-up kits are almost always encased in plastic. It’s unlikely that you’ll need the whole pack of white paint or fake blood, so get ready with your friends and share your Halloween goods. Buy one big pack, instead of a lot of small ones and put it away afterwards to use again next year. Avoid makeup kits with glitter, which is a microplastic, and use a flannel at the end of the night to wash it off instead of a single-use wipe.
3. Give plastic-free sweets to trick-or-treaters
One of the most enjoyable parts of Halloween is the treat-or-treat trail in your nearby streets – it’s also the most difficult part when it comes to avoiding plastic. Most supermarkets sell huge tubs of sweets for the occasion, but this can often involve a lot of excess plastic – especially if sweets are also individually wrapped. You could buy pick-n-mix (bringing your own container would help avoid another plastic tub) and make up little paper bags with a few sweets in for each visitor.
4. Recycle your pumpkin
In the UK alone, eight million pumpkins are thrown away each year! But you don’t need to. You can use it to make delicious soups, pies and other culinary delights. And if pumpkin isn’t to your taste? You could make yourself a face mask instead. As for the pumpkin skin, don’t throw it in with your regular rubbish – put it into a compost bin. Alternatively, if you have a garden, you can leave it out for the squirrels or bury it. The pumpkin pieces will eventually break down and enrich the soil.
5. Make your party sustainable
Odds are that if the host encourages guests to be sustainable, they will. Give away a prize for the most environmentally-friendly outfit, buy biodegradable cups and plates (if you really need them) and make your own decorations rather than buying plastic ones.
If you’re using lights, try to source those that are better for the environment and recycle any batteries responsibly once they run out.