Halloween perfectly embodies nature at this time of year with the spooky dark evenings and the rustic colours of autumn. Dressing up and decorating is always a lot of fun too.
However, the impact Halloween is having on our environment is truly terrifying. It results in huge amounts of unnecessary waste contributing to plastic pollution and climate changing emissions. Costumes in 2019 created 2,000 tonnes of waste in the UK.
We’re facing a climate crisis, this is not the way we should be living. But we can still celebrate Halloween without causing such a devastating impact. Here’s how to have an eco-friendly Halloween.
Opt for a second hand costume this year instead of contributing to the growing piles of waste.
For me, part of the fun of Halloween has always been making/scavenging my own costumes from charity shops and second hand clothing stores. One year I found a gorgeous black velvet dress with black lace trim at a charity shop. It was good quality (looked expensive!) and looked brilliant for both a Bellatrix Lestrange and vampire duchess costumes.
I wore it two years running but sadly had to give it up when it no longer fitted me. I donated it back to a charity shop. Charity shops often put out their most ‘halloweeny’ stock out at this time of year.
I definitely notice more black and gothic looking clothes in their stores. It’s so much fun hunting for unique clothing and accessories. You’ll definitely end up with a unique costume!
I also have a box of dressing up stuff collected over years that I now dip into and mix up every Halloween. Don’t buy a brand new costume every year, reuse what you already have. If you do have lots of costumes that you don’t know what to do with, never throw them away. Donate them to charity or sell them second-hand.
Another option might be to borrow friend’s clothes or costumes from previous years. I once borrowed a friend’s black corset (he was a fashion student at the time and had made it himself). It was perfect for Halloween.
Or you could simply get creative with the clothes you already have. I once made a Mad Hatter costume from scratch with clothes and makeup I already had for a short notice party. I got lots of compliments on the night!
These are the worst part of Halloween in my opinion. Cheap, tacky, one-use plastic decorations covering everything. I cringe whenever I see plastic skulls, banners and insidious fake cobwebs hanging outside people’s houses. They seem to be everywhere now!
If you do already have decorations, reuse them. But don’t buy any new ones. If you do feel the need to buy decorations, go for non-plastic natural alternatives. They look much nicer in my opinion anyway!
Here’s some eco-friendly Halloween decoration ideas.
Pumpkins may not be plastic but they contribute to a shocking amount of waste. People often buy them to make jack-o’-lanterns, carving out the insides and putting the pumpkin flesh straight in the bin. If you do some pumpkin carving, don’t waste it!
Cook something from the insides. Here’s a load of pumpkin recipes you can try. Pumpkins last much longer if you don’t carve them. You could paint them instead and then cook something with them after Halloween.
I simply don’t buy or carve pumpkins anymore as they always went to waste. If you still want some kind of jack-o’-lantern consider an alternative. My neighbour has a ceramic pumpkin next to their front door. Candles will also work!
Here’s a couple of pumpkin alternatives you could use instead.
Trick or treat
Most sweets, especially the big bags on offer in supermarkets for Halloween, are covered in non-recyclable plastic. I wonder how much of this plastic ends up in the environment when people eat their treats on the way home?
These sweets are also usually made from gelatin. This means they contribute to the meat industry (one of the biggest contributors to climate change). If you are offering treats at Halloween why not make your own vegetarian treats? Bake brownies or create toffee apples with wooden lolly sticks. Time to get old school!
If you’re planning to go trick or treating, another option could be to forego trick or treating and find another way to celebrate Halloween with your family. Attend a local Halloween event, play horror-themed board games or go for a spooky evening walk in the woods or at a nature reserve (bring a torch!). It could be a chance for a more social, memorable event that’s less wasteful and unhealthy!
I hope you have a fangtastic eco-friendly Halloween! Living more sustainably doesn’t have to mean giving up on fun. There’s always an alternative if you’re creative about it.