Guest Post by Ben Plummer*
Skeletons are hanging in people’s windows, pumpkins are in the supermarkets and the nights are drawing in which means only one thing – Yes Halloween is around the corner!
Whether you enjoy Halloween or not, it cannot be denied that Halloween produces a huge environmental impact and it only seems to worsen every year. However, there are many tips and tricks that can help you be as green as possible at Halloween (without having to cover yourself in green paint to become a zombie) Many of these also save you lots of money as well as the environment – In Britain we spend £300 million a year at Halloween – that sounds like daylight robbery to me!
Many people go in big on the costumes and makeup at Halloween. Come the 31st of October, skeletons, witches, vampires and other creepy figures will be walking the streets with Halloween enjoyed by kids, adults and even pets (although it’s hard to tell how much dogs like dressing up as pumpkins!). But many of these costumes are bought specially for this occasion and are not worn any other time. It has been estimated that every year 7 billion Halloween costumes are binned and that’s not including the many plastic props that often accompany them! Many of these costumes are relatively cheap and are made of poor quality plastic making many unrecyclable which contributes to their disposability. However, there are many alternatives to help lower the environmental footprint of your costume!
If you wanted one of these costumes you could source them second hand from a charity shop or car boot, rent them from a fancy dress shop or borrow them from a friend or neighbour! Likewise, if you have a Halloween costume that you had when you were a kid and you can no longer squeeze into, then donate it to someone who could use it!
Alternatively, you could try making your own costume. The old classic is the ghost – snipping a couple of holes in an old bedsheet that is coming to the end of its life! However, if you wanted to be more creative you could throw some bits and bobs together to design a makeshift costume. Check your wardrobe – any black clothes are a good staple for the base of a Halloween costume. You could then stick some black pieces of card to an Alice band and then you have created a cat costume. Another idea is donning a chequered shirt and straw hat and you are a scarecrow. If you wanted props, then many can be made using cardboard which you can decorate using paint or pencils!
More and more Halloween decorations seem to enter the market every year, the majority made of plastic. Plastic Lanterns, ghosts, fake fangs and the infamous plastic pumpkin (yes these are still around despite Poundland banning the sale of polystyrene pumpkins last year) are but a few! But like costumes, many Halloween decorations can be homemade and are simple to make – here are just a few ideas!
- Toilet roll bats – Use a black pen or pencil to colour in a cardboard toilet roll, cut out some wings from black card and attach to the toilet roll
- Halloween drawings – Draw some creepy pictures to scare any trick or treaters coming to your door. Alternatively, you could write a scary message on some paper and stick to your door!
- Ghostly leaves – Try painting some leaves white, adding a couple of eyes with black paint or pen and you have some ghostly leaves. These could be hung on a piece of string or stuck on a front door
- Mason jar candles – Grab some glass bottles or mason jars, put a tealight inside and this can create an eerie atmosphere around your house – Draw some creepy eyes on the bottles for some added spookiness!
Cardboard and colouring pencils are your friends at Halloween – So much can be created from them and ideas are aplenty on the internet!
Perhaps the most iconic thing associated with Halloween is the pumpkin. Many of us enjoy the ritual of carving out a scary face on a pumpkin, sticking a candle inside and putting it outside to signal to the trick or treaters that treats can be picked up from your house. But what happens to the pumpkin after – well much of it goes to waste. Around 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin are thrown out every year in the UK, with around 60% of people not saving the tasty flesh and seeds that reside inside the pumpkin. Perhaps this is understandable– I mean come on that stringy flesh really doesn’t look that appetising! However there are many ways to use your pumpkin in some delicious dishes:
- Soup – Pumpkin soup is a real simple winter warmer! Both the flesh and the stringy insides can be used for this! To try some without the effort of making some yourself head down to Drury Road allotments in Colchester this Sunday (27th October 2019) where some will be on offer along with other pumpkin based activities!
- Curries – Pumpkin flesh chopped up can be a great addition to a curry
- Broth – A great use for the stringy bits inside a pumpkin is to boil them down into broth!
- The seeds – These can be roasted with some spices for a healthy snack
If you still have pumpkin left over then dispose of it in your food waste bin or put it in the compost.
Even the treats may leave a bitter aftertaste in your mouth once you realise the amount of waste produced from them! Many of the traditional sweets given out at Halloween are individually wrapped in non-recyclable plastic. These are a nightmare for the environment with most either sent to landfill or are left littered on the ground. But never fear, there are some plastic free alternative treats that you can give out to any trick or treaters that come to your door!
- Halloween biscuits – These can be simple and effective alternative treats to give out – you could even try making pumpkin cookies using any leftover pumpkin you have.
- Crickets – A very appropriate snack for Halloween! What perhaps may have been described as a nasty trick to play on the kids before may not be so as much now – They are slowly becoming accepted by more people in the UK and could perhaps be given out to kids as they come or perhaps disguised in a cereal bar!
- Fruit – they may not be a fan favourite, but they are a healthy alternative to the sweet treats and can often be sourced packaging free and locally.
- Try eco-friendly and local suppliers – If you are getting traditional treats then try and check the sourcing of ingredients (organic, Fairtrade, palm oil free etc.) or go for vegan chocolates and sweets!
I think Halloween gives you the opportunity to be creative (which is fun!) with the added bonus of this often being environmentally friendly! There are many Halloween events going on over half term for you and the kids to get involved with (check the links!) which allow you to get creative!
So don’t scare yourself too much with trying to create a faultless eco Halloween – you could experiment with some of the ideas suggested in this article or come up with your own!
Links to some eco Halloween ideas!
Costumes and decorations
https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/872635/pumpkin-puree – Pumpkin puree can then be used in recipes for pumpkin biscuits or cakes
Halloween activities during half term
*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.