4 Ways to Make Your Halloween as Sustainable as It Is Stylish
Here are some simple tips on how to avoid the environmental cost of most spooky time of year.
While its roots are in ancient Celtic tradition, for a long time, Halloween and its commercial trappings have been seen as the domain of North Americans. But today, Halloween is a mainstay of the British holiday calendar – and a lucrative one at that.
Each year, hundreds of millions are spent on fake blood, costumes, pumpkins, sweets and more, as shoppers prepare for trick-or-treating and fancy dress parties. According to consumer data provider Statista, Britons spent £419 million on Halloween products in 2018, up from £230 million just five years earlier.
But this tremendous spend comes at an environmental cost, with survey after survey finding that Halloween purchases are being discarded after use, rather than being saved or repurposed for future use.
With great spending power comes great environmental responsibility. Here are a few ways to have a more eco-friendly Halloween.
Repurpose your pumpkin
A 2018 study commissioned by stock brand Knorr found that of the 58 per cent of Brits who buy Halloween pumpkins as decoration, 51 per cent bin the innards after carving.
This needn't be the case: The internet abounds with recipes for soups, pies, cakes and even risottos that can be made from the flesh of a pumpkin, and roasted pumpkin seeds are an easy, healthy snack. And by cooking with your pumpkin, you'll avoid adding to the 7.1 million tonnes of household food waste thrown away in the UK annually.
On 1 November, you can put your pumpkin's decaying remains in your backyard compost bin, or have it collected by your local council to be disposed of as food waste and turned into compost.
Give costumes a second life
According to a survey from the North London Waste Authority and the environmental charity Hubbub, 40 per cent of the 7 million costumes thrown out in 2016 were worn only once.
But if three out of five costumes are being retained, it’s likely that someone in your circle has one languishing at the back of their wardrobe, itching to be worn again. So this year, why not borrow or trade costumes with a friend, rather than buying a new one? After all, clothing swapping, as Vogue reports, is very chic.
Alternatively, buy your costume secondhand from a charity shop. Just be sure to take care of it so that, when you’re done with it, you can donate it again, or else pass it on to another party-goer in your friend group.
Limit individually-wrapped treats
When entertaining, homemade is always better, regardless of the occasion. Set aside time to prepare seasonable treats like candied apples, spiced hot apple cider and baked goods – but if you’re really in a pickle, check food waste apps for potential food deals in your area.
In most cases, sweets and crisps are packaged in wrappers that cannot be recycled (blame the mix of plastic and aluminium), so you’re better off giving trick-or-treaters boxed snacks, or bulk-buying individual sweets wrapped in aluminium foil.
This will limit packaged options for now, but it looks as though sustainable mainstream sweet wrappers could be commonplace in the near future. For example, Nestle and Mars have both pledged to make 100 per cent of their packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.
Choose decorations made to last
Dried flowers, stacks of candles, pumpkins and the right dramatic music should be enough to set a haunted mood this Halloween.
But if you’re determined to stick to the tombstones-and-cauldrons aesthetic, forgo disposable plastic decorations and make your own from household materials, or invest in durable products that you’ll want to use year after year. Think glass lanterns, autumnal wreaths and fabric bats.