How to Go Green This Halloween
It is believed that Halloween is the second-most celebrated holiday in the UK, just behind Christmas. And while shops are always more than willing to cater to the needs of consumers, producing countless costumes, decorations and food stuffs, Halloween can end up being one of the most wasteful days of the year. Single-use plastic ornaments and trimmings are swiftly thrown away as November begins, spooky outfits are crammed in the back of wardrobes to be forgotten about or sent to landfill, and a whopping 8,000 tonnes of unused pumpkin is emptied into bins nationwide as jack-o’-lanterns are carved and proudly placed on doorsteps or mantlepieces, only to be discarded of mere days later. There are countless simple ways to both enjoy this holiday and protect our environment, so here are our top tips on how to go green this Halloween!
It is estimated that approximately £510 million is spent on Halloween costumes each year. While high-street and supermarket Halloween costumes are readily available and exceptionally simple to piece together, with outfits and matching accessories usually being purchasable as a job lot, more often than not they are worn once and promptly tossed into landfill. Many of these costumes contain harmful chemicals like Phthalates, which, when released into the environment, can create a risk of exposure to humans and other living creatures. Instead of buying into this, consider getting creative with your costume this year. Spend some time browsing your local charity shops and see what you can pull together. Not only is this far more ecological, but you can also be sure that your money is going to a good cause. Remember to always donate your old outfit when you tire of it – it may be just what someone else is looking for. Alternatively, go one step further and craft your own costume from scratch! Old sheets and tablecloths can go a long way to creating an ultra-spooky look.
If you’re short on time or not feeling particularly inspired, hiring a costume is the way to go. There are fancy-dress shops on most high-streets, and plenty of options online, offering a whole host of costumes that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. If you still can’t find that perfect Halloween look, try swapping costumes with friends or family members. They may have something hidden away that could catch your eye. Be sure to check platforms like eBay, Depop, Vinted and even the Facebook Marketplace. You never know what someone could be giving away for next to nothing!
Cheap Halloween face paint can often be hazardous for skin, as it can become contaminated by heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium. Instead of exposing yourself or your children to these toxins, opt to make your own mask this year. This seller on Etsy has a whole host of unique designs that you can download and make in your own home. However, if you’re set on a particular make-up look, there are a handful of quality, eco-friendly cosmetic products on Amazon that may suit your needs.
Single-use plastic Halloween decorations (and packaging) are a problem that plague autumn’s spooky season annually. As tempting as little light-up pumpkins and sensor-activated ghouls are, they are repeatedly thrown away year after year once the fun of Halloween comes to an end. Common hard-to-recycle items found across the UK include fake spider webs, devil horns and tridents, witch hats and plastic lamps, all of which could stay in landfill sites for decades to come. This year, simply keep your decorations to reuse next year. Halloween trends rarely change, and its almost certain that your light-up witches legs and spooky black tinsel cat will look just as eerie next year. Alternatively, if you’re into themed Halloween parties, sell your decorations instead, as a means of recycling. As with costumes, there’s bound to be someone out there who could reuse yours.
When buying fairy lights or any light-up decorations, make sure to use LED lights. These produce low carbon dioxide emissions and are 80% more energy efficient. There are a huge amount of LED decorations available both in store and online, such as tabletop candelabras, baby ghost lights and paper lanterns. LED candles are also advisable for mood lighting and for ensuring your jack-o’-lanterns stay lit all night. Again, a whole host of different candle styles are available, from mini pumpkin tealights to decorated pillar candles.
If you’re feeling crafty this year, making your own decorations can prove a lot of fun. And no, we don’t mean buying a pack of honeycomb pumpkins, peeling the tabs off them and saying you made them. There are oodles of innovative and simple ideas on sites like Pinterest, with easy-to-follow guides. Here are a few of our favourites:
Mason jar pumpkins: Gather together mason jar lids of the same size, paint them using non-toxic orange paint and string them together. Spread them evenly to create a pumpkin shape. Use cinnamon sticks (or just regular sticks) as the stem and cut out hessian to create leaves.
Tin can luminaries: A great way to upcycle old soup cans. Fill the cans up with water and leave them in the freezer. This allows you to hammer a design into the cans without leaving a dent. Using a nail and hammer, create your design. Once the ice melts away, remove the water and place tealights inside.
Mummy cereal boxes: Use old bed sheets or a tablecloth to create DIY mummys. Cut the fabric into thin strips and wind around an empty cereal box. Once the box is covered, tuck the end in. Attach googly eyes for a kooky finish.
Egg carton bats: Take an empty egg carton and cut it into four pieces, so each ‘bat’ has three sections. Paint black with non-toxic paint. Turn upside down and add two googly eyes. Attach string to the top of the head and hang from a light fitting, bookshelf or ceiling.
Hanging ghost: Take an old white sheet and stuff a small portion with leaves or newspaper. Tie it off with some string to make a head. To add extra flair, use non-toxic black paint to give your ghost a face. Can be hung from trees and outdoor lamps.
The unrivalled giant of Halloween decorations is, of course, the pumpkin. It is thought that 58% of consumers buy pumpkins to hollow out and carve, with 51% dumping the excess in the bin. To avoid food waste, use the rest of the pumpkin! The ‘guts’ can be used to make a puree, risotto or butter and the seeds can be roasted and added to a muesli, casserole or salad.
As an alternative to serving trick-or-treaters or party guests seasonal sugary sweets, probably in a plastic wrapper, elect to make your own instead! There are hundreds of Halloween-themed recipes online, many with organic ingredients. Here are a few of our favourites:
If you’d rather stay out the kitchen, there are organic and Fairtrade sweets available nationwide that are better for both the environment and children’s health. (See; Montezuma’s and Candy Kittens)
Host a ‘Green’ Party
If themed Halloween parties are your thing, what better way to ensure your celebration stays ecological than by making the theme ‘green’? Ask your guests to come as green characters (expect an abundance of Hulks and Green Lanterns) and use biodegradable or recyclable cups and plates. Add in our DIY decoration ideas and Halloween-inspired recipes to throw the ultimate environmental party.