Have you ever stopped and wondered how much waste is created by people celebrating Halloween every year? Here are some facts:
In the UK, around 7 million Halloween costumes are thrown away every year
Americans spend around $2.6 billion on candy for Halloween and nearly all of it comes in plastic that goes to landfill
18,000 tonnes of pumpkin are thrown away in the UK every year (that's 12.8 million pumpkins!)
It really is time to start thinking about how we can celebrate Halloween in a much more sustainable way.
1. Eat your pumpkin
When my son was small and we started buying a pumpkin each year, we would decorate it several days early and put it in the window until the big day itself. To stop it going off, we would coat its bare insides with Vaseline to give it a protective waterproof layer. However, this meant that although we roasted and ate the seeds, we couldn't eat the pumpkin itself.
But if you leave decorating your pumpkin until the actual day Halloween it will last perfectly well for that one day and night without needing anything to protect it, and then once Halloween is over you can roast it! Just put the top back on and put it in the oven, and once cooked its incredibly easy to scoop out the flesh for soup or pumpkin pie.
Follow this link for some tips on how to roast a pumpkin whole.
And don't forget to roast your pumpkin seeds!
If you don't like pumpkin, see if there are any local farmers who'll take it to feed to their livestock. But please don't just leave it to decompose in landfill and pump out tonnes of methane!
Lots of inspiration for using your pumpkin here.
2. Find a costume you can reuse every year
Or make one from things you already own, so you're not buying cheap costumes that can probably only be worn once before they fall apart, even if you try to be good and reuse them! Even if they survive, most are made from plastic-based fabrics which will release microfibres into the water systems if washed.
The best investment I ever made for Halloween was making a vampire cloak for my son when he was about six or seven. He's now well over six feet tall and it would still fit him if he weren't too cool for such things nowadays!
It was a very easy make, and the ultimate reusable costume. He just wore it with his school uniform white shirt and black trousers, with some lipstick blood and dark pencil on his eyebrows!
There are loads of similar sewing patterns available like this one below - which can also be used to create lots of other kinds of cloak too!
If you're not into sewing yourself, you may be able to find a cloak in a charity shop or online second hand store - or even buy new! Because as long as it's good quality, this is a costume which will keep on giving year after year after year!
If cloaks aren't your thing, there are some other really easy, sustainable costume ideas on my Halloween Pinterest board!
3. Make your own decorations
I love the idea of these paper spider webs (think snowflakes, adjusted for Halloween)
Or how about making bats or monsters from cardboard rolls?
Pop along to my Halloween inspiration board on Pinterest for more ideas.
4. Try to find treats that don't come in single use plastic
For the trick or treat bowl, I've found mini apples go down surprisingly well, and satsumas decorated with pumpkin faces are very popular (and healthy)! I also put in little gifts I've accumulated e.g. freebies from magazines, gifts from Christmas crackers and party bags which also seem to go well.
(This year, if you are providing for trick or treaters, perhaps consider spreading snacks or gifts on a tray to minimise little fingers' contact with other items.)
For a Halloween feast at home, I've found loads of amazing ideas, which again you can find on my Halloween inspiration board on Pinterest.
5. If you're going to buy, buy eco
Buy reusable costumes, decorations and gifts, and try to make sure they're made from natural materials that will eventually biodegrade. Again, my Pinterest board has some great items for sale, and I even have a couple of ideas you can buy from my Etsy store, which can be bought as a finished product, a knitting pattern, or a knit kit complete with yarn and knitting needles - perfect to bring out year after year!
A 100% cotton "BOO!" banner
Mini trick or treat baskets made from recycled cotton
Any more ideas I haven't thought of? Comment below and let me know! I'd love to hear what you have to say!
And however you choose to celebrate, have a great Halloween!