As an introvert, the idea of dressing up and knocking on strangers doors asking for free food never really appealed to me as a child. The one year I did dress up in a 'mum-made' Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer costume, I didn’t even I make it to the 'trick-or-treating'.
Now as an adult, having lived in countries where Halloween is celebrated a lot more than back home in Australia, it’s the thought of expensive, single-use costumes, and the plastic and food-waste, that doesn't interest (rather bothers) me.
But, if your love of Halloween clashes with your values, don’t despair! You can still enjoy yourself while being kind to the environment, and your wallet. I have compiled a list of some easy switches we can all adopt that will make a real difference during the Halloween season.
Halloween costumes can not only be quite pricey, but are typically made of plastic, not to mention single use. Therefore, to avoid spending unnecessary money and sending more plastic to landfill, why not try one of the following:
Do it yourself:
Fight the urge to buy a new costume, and instead try making your own. There are plenty of sewing patterns out there themed for Halloween.
But if sewing isn't your thing, don't let that stop you. You don't have to look far. Start by looking around your house, local op shop. A fail safe idea is a ghost made from a white sheet, wrapping yourself up as a mummy using bandages from your medical cupboard or box, or using curtains or sheets to easily make witch and wizards cloaks.
You could also try upcycling from your local charity shop. Look out for evening dresses that can be embellished, or shirts and trousers that can be torn or cut-up, and keep an eye out for autumnal colours and black velvet. A simple search on Google, YouTube or Pinterest will return a number of great ideas.
Why not bring an old costume back from the dead. We need to distance ourselves from the stigma of wearing the same outfit more than once, and this should include costumes.
What about simply swapping costumes with family, friends, work colleagues, or through a organised group, like on Facebook.
If time just isn't on your side, resist the last minute impulse buy. There may still be time to get that killer costume. Think about renting one and returning it as soon as you are finished, putting it back into circulation for someone else to wear.
N.B. If you find yourself with unwanted costumes, don't just throw them out. You can donate them to your local charity shop or school, or give selling them online a go.
Plastic. Plastic. Plastic.
Pesky plastic has made its way into everything when it comes to Halloween, from the costumes and their accessories (e.g. wigs, masks, etc.), the party decorations, to the lolly (or candy/sweet) wrappers, and don't get me started on darn glitter.
When it comes to those Halloween costumes, a 2019 investigation by Hubbub and the Fairyland Trust revealed that from 19 supermarkets and retailers, 83% of the material used was polluting oil-based plastic likely to end up in landfill with the most common plastic polymer being polyester. Therefore, trying some of those swaps I mentioned previously will not only save you money, but will help you cut back on plastic also.
For those of you throwing a Halloween bash, opt for recyclable and reusable when it comes to decorations, cups, utensils, plates etc. Or, tone the theme down so you can use the items more than once a year (e.g. simply focus on an Autumnal colour scheme). Alternatively, look to nature for decoration ideas, like confetti made from hole punching leaves, or pine cones and conkers (Autumn is the perfect time of year for decorating).
When it comes to 'trick-or-treating', why not make your own Halloween treats, or simply try avoiding individually wrapped lollies and chocolates. Furthermore ,you could swap the plastic bucket for a reusable basket, or tote.
To solve that glitter problem, look out for biodegradable glitter, made from plants (check out EcoStardust). This way you will not be contributing to micro-plastic pollution.
You might not have given much thought to pumpkin waste, but the act of using pumpkins as simply decorations to line front steps, or to carve designs into them, means that most, if not all of the pumpkin is likely to end up being put out with the rubbish.
But there are some great things we can do to ensure we use up as much of the pumpkin as possible. Some simple tips I have come across include;
You can eat everything but the stalk!
Cook the pumpkin seeds to create a snack, or add to a salad.
Create a pumpkin infused vegetable stock from the slimy innards.
Store the innards in the freezer, and use when your are ready.
If you are lucky enough to have a garden, plant your dried pumpkin seeds once the weather warms and reap the benefits.
Compost your leftovers, instead of just tossing in the rubbish.
If you are unsure, a simple google search will return an array of resources and recipes. Plus, any site featuring food will be undoubtedly be focusing on pumpkin at the moment. Only today I was looking at pumpkin recipes on The Guardian during my daily news scroll.
Please GET IN TOUCH or leave me a comment, and let me know if this article was helpful, or share your tips on how to make Halloween more sustainable, and better for the environment?