Ghosts, witches, vampires; Halloween is all about scary things, but the most frightening thing of all may just be its environmental impact.
This is because from costumes, to parties, to trick-or-treating, Halloween creates a lot of waste.
This has not always been the case. Traditionally, All Hallows Eve was a Celtic festival celebrated as the day the souls of those who had died that year progressed to the underworld.
Despite originating in Britain, the holiday we know today actually became popular in America. Now, it has become the third most profitable holiday in the U.K., following behind Christmas and Easter.
Between 2013 and 2019, spending on Halloween went from £230 million to £474 million. While this has dipped slightly over the pandemic, it is expected to increase further in the future.
Sweets are, of course, a huge part of this spending, with many households in the U.K. stocking up for trick-or-treaters. The problem with this, however, is the amount of plastic waste involved.
Candy wrappers are often unrecyclable and, making matters worse, people will often buy individually wrapped versions.
This means even more waste that will end up in landfills or in our oceans, where it will take hundreds of years to decompose.
Pumpkins also play a massive role in Halloween and the waste it can create. An estimated 24 million pumpkins are bought every year for the holiday in the U.K., most of which will be carved, decorated, and then thrown away.
It’s not just food that’s the problem, either. More and more Brits are dressing up each year to celebrate the holiday in costumes that are very likely to only be worn once.
Adding to this issue is the fact that most of these costumes will be made from plastics.
One survey done by British charity group Hubbub found that 7 million Halloween costumes get thrown away each year in England alone.
That is the same amount of plastic waste as tens of millions of plastic bottles, a fact much scarier than any of the masks you’ll see.
That’s not even the end of it. There’s also the increase in littering from people being out on the street, the purchasing of huge amount of plastic decorations, and the use of single-use plates, cups, and cutlery for the many Halloween parties that are thrown.
Despite all of this, Halloween doesn’t have to harm our planet, and there are many ways you can make the spooky season more sustainable.
If you like baking and have the time, why not try making your own treats to hand out instead of buying store-bought treats? This not only cuts down on plastic but can be a fun activity to do as a family or couple.
There are also a number of different ways to use your leftover pumpkin. This could be through cooking (the seed and pulp are edible!), or you could even try your hand at creating some of your very own homemade beauty treatments.
Doing a little DIY to make your costumes can also reduce waste. Try finding old clothes that can be reused, repurpose elements of last years costume, or, if you’re running low on time, try finding somewhere that will rent you a costume.
When Halloween is over, make sure you don’t throw them away! Costumes and decorations can either be stored and reused or donated to your family and friends.
If you’re planning on throwing a party, there are also some great options for reusable or compostable plates, cutlery, and cups to give to your guests.
Cutting down on waste at Halloween is essential, and every little change you can make helps. It can be harder, however, to stay sustainable all-year-round.
That is why here at Play it Green, we offer individuals and families a simple way to reduce their impact on the environment. We also provide them with easy-to-follow steps they can take in their everyday lives to do more for our planet.
Together, we can all make a real difference.