How To Have A Sustainable Halloween
Disposable decorations. Plastic wrapped candy. Polyester costumes you only wear once. Celebrating Halloween can have a pretty sizeable impact on the planet. Can we make Halloween green?
What’s the environmental impact of Halloween?
Here’s a scary story – consumers are expected to spend over £472 million on Halloween products in the UK alone, most of which are costumes and accessories (source). The biggest problem with Halloween, is that themed products are only used or worn at most once a year, and are unlikely to be reused or even recycled.
With the majority of costumes sold by popular retailers like Asda and Tesco made from oil-based non-biodegradable fibres like polyester, PVC, nylon and acrylic, the level of textile waste generated by Halloween contributes dramatically to the already staggering 300,000+ tonnes of clothing discarded in UK landfills.
Then consider the food waste from pumpkin carving, single-use plastic waste from trick-or-treat sweets, disposable paper, foil and plastic decorations and toxic face paints running straight down the drain.
Just imagine the impact in the USA where Halloween is a much bigger annual celebration. As 31 October becomes more popular here in the UK, we’ve considered sustainable Halloween hacks and how to observe the holiday the green way.
Sustainable Halloween Costumes
One of the best ways to dress up with minimum impact is to get pinning on Pinterest for Halloween costume inspiration and head over to your local charity shops and vintage stores. Not only is it often more affordable than a ready-made costume, it is so much more fun to create something from scratch.
From a corpse bride or zombie costume using pre-loved white shirts and dresses, to ratty old black dresses for a witch get-up, to simple everyday clothing emulating your favourite pop culture or historical character, thrifting has got you covered.
WIth second-hand shopping, you’re helping to extend the life cycle of clothing by saving garments from going to landfill, instead breathing new life into them and giving them a new story. What’s more, buying from charity shops donates money to good causes, and supporting your local vintage sellers helps boost the local economy.
You could even bring back the childhood classic ghost costume with an unwanted bed sheet. Or step up your game by crafting your own costume from deadstock fabrics, as well as simple household items like tin foil, cardboard, laddered tights, old curtains. It’s time to dust off your sewing machine and get creative.
Hiring, swapping or borrowing Halloween costumes from a fancy dress shop or just friends and family is another great way of avoiding the waste of a single-use costume – promoting a circular economy model by choosing rental over ownership. Taking these steps will definitely help you have an eco-friendly halloween.
Vegan Halloween Food
According to The Guardian, reducing consumption of both meat and dairy is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your environmental impact. So, adding in Autumnal vegan food into your diet this month could be a great way to switch to a sustainable Halloween.
Plenty of classics like toffee apples are usually already vegan, but other Halloween meals and snacks can easily be made vegan, like Pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie, warming curry and chilli as well as biscuits, cakes and desserts. Here are some cruelty-free vegan Halloween recipes to get your started.
Another top tip for a sustainable Halloween and beyond is to stick to local and seasonal food in order to cut down on air miles and avoid supporting chemical-based agriculture. In October in the UK, bramley apples, pears, figs, beetroot, kale, parsnips and of course, pumpkins are all in season.
Organic Halloween Pumpkins
Millions of pumpkins are sold in the UK every year, but a shocking 99% are used for making Halloween jack-o-lanterns (source). Hit up your local farmer’s markets and greengrocers to find organic pumpkins; ensuring excessive pesticides weren’t used in the farming process, which have a long-term detrimental effect on ecosystems.
Organic vegetables can sometimes be smaller than the giant, jacked-up jack-o-lanterns, but there are some really creative pumpkin carving ideas that can work for little pumpkins too. You could even go retro and try carving a different kind of fruit or vegetable for Halloween this year!
The environmental impact of food waste is also a big problem – so make sure you use the whole pumpkin when carving your spooky faces. The seeds can be separated and toasted for a healthy snack, the flesh can be used to make delicious pumpkin soup, and pumpkin waste can be used as bird feed in the cold winter months.
Sustainable Halloween Candy
Junk food is one of the great joys of Halloween for trick-or-treating kids and sweet-toothed adults alike, but individually-wrapped sweets and chocolate creates a massive plastic waste problem, and when packed with palm oil, this leads to a destructive impact on animal habitats. This year, try and source sweets wrapped in recyclable paper (or even make your own package-free sustainable halloween treats), and check out this list of UK products without palm oil.
You can take your eco-friendly Halloween a step further and buy ‘accidentally vegan’ candy like Jelly Tots, Skittles, Millions, Starbursts and Veggie Percy Pigs. Try ethical Fairtrade chocolate too so you can ensure cocoa farmers weren’t exploited. Waitrose, Co-Op and M&S use exclusively fairtrade cocoa for all their own-brand products as well as brands like like DIvine and Green & Black’s, and Holland & Barrett stocks a range of fairtrade Halloween-friendly treats.
Sustainable Halloween Makeup
Opt for certified organic and cruelty-free beauty products and biodegradable glitter when sourcing your Halloween makeup. Look for the ‘leaping bunny’ logo for products not tested on animals, or visit Cruelty Free Kitty for brand listings.
You could even buy eco-friendly face paint from specialist retailers for a low-impact Halloween look.
Need fake blood for your Halloween costume? Avoid store-bought products packed with toxic chemicals, and make your own simple DIY fake blood with syrup, red food colouring and water.
Zero Waste Halloween Decorations
Rather than plastic, paper and foil Halloween decorations this year, opt for all-natural foraged options like pinecones, twigs, pumpkins and leaves. You could also make your own DIY decor with existing household items, like bunting from old bed linen, spider webs from basic string, cut-out skeletons from scrap paper and loads more.
For lighting up your pumpkins and your home, try soy wax or beeswax candles rather than paraffin candles or fairy lights. Another sustainable Halloween party hack is to simply use ceramic bowls and plates, fabric napkins, real glasses and silverware instead of paper and plastic, or choose biodegradable options like Vegware.
Buy for life, not just for Halloween
Finally, our most important piece of advice for a green Halloween is to consider buying items that you can keep wearing throughout the year, rather than just for the 31 October. Investing in ethical clothing and accessories you really love that are made to last is the best way to be conscious consumer.