Sustainable Halloween Tricks

Halloween – the annual event where it is the norm to scare the bejesus out of strangers, no matter the age. Gruesomely entertaining and gifted with an abundance of free sweets… what could be could better!! Unfortunately, the sugar highs might mask the real horror of the yearly celebration… which is the sheds of waste. It has been researched by Hubbub, a non-profit environmental organisation, that around 2000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated from the Halloween festivities – which is equivalent to an astounding 83 million plastic bottles.

Never fear – it doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom, here are some ways you can celebrate the eco way this Halloween – and this is no trick.

1. Reuse + Recycle your Costumes.

Hubbub found that a shocking 83% of Halloween costumes used non-recyclable oil-based plastics which meant they were destined to end up in landfill. Even more shocking, the polyester used in over 63% of these costumes can take between 20-200 years to decompose. This is a frighteningly long time for the materials to be sitting and releasing toxins into the environment. 

Ways to reduce this plastic landfill:

DIY it.

Whether it’s old clothing or something you have been dying to re-wear; conduct a deep dive of your wardrobe and piece together an outfit for your Halloween antics. Use your imagination – perhaps that old white t-shirt can be transformed into a ghostly Casper or those shorts and tank top can be a take of Lara Croft. Where the magic truly comes alive is through the makeup – aesthetic is everything when you are trying to look the furthest thing from yourself. Use your body as a blank canvas to allow your Halloween visions to come to life. My personal favourite is the haunted zombie look – if you’ve got any white and black eyeshadow hanging around – utilise it to form hollows in the contours of your face, you’ll look dead in no time.

Second hand.

Upturned your wardrobe and still nothing? Instead of frantically going on the first fast fashion website you can find, explore your more sustainable options. Depop and Vinted are the popular second-hand platforms today – you can even filter to people in your local area to save on transport emissions. Say goodbye to endorsing fast fashion and waste and hello to promoting a circular economy of clothes. Ka-Ching!

2. Treats, NO TRICKS.

Halloween spending in the UK is estimated to total £777 million in 2023; of which 40% is spent on sweets and chocolates for Halloween (Statista, 2023). These treats, however, are typically wrapped in plastic wrappers and can’t be recycled. The wrappers, therefore, also end up in landfill.

What to do instead?

Get creative and handmake your trick or treats!

Branch outside of your comfort zone and put on your Mary Berry baker’s hat on. From the classic scrumptious toffee apples to the delectable, iced cookies in ghost or pumpkin formation. There’s something soothingly therapeutic about having a set of raw ingredients in front of you and a couple of hours of labour later, you have a carefully crafted patisserie masterpiece.  Below are some recipes for inspiration this Halloween!

Buy sweets in bulk and with FSC approved packaging.

Don’t have the time to bake? Keep an eye out for sweets with recyclable packaging and opt for bulk sweets you can put in reusable containers. You can also choose organic or fair-trade options to support sustainable practices.

Etsy have a whole section on eco sweets which look like you have just visited ye old sweet shop; it might be an idea to section these sweets into sandwich bags for the little ones who come knocking on your door.

Instead of using plastic bags, encourage trick-or-treaters to use reusable bags or containers. You can even decorate old pillowcases or tote bags to make them Halloween-themed.

Be allergy conscious.

If you are baking, remember to be allergy friendly. Of course, those with serious allergies are not likely to put themselves into a position of risk with trick or treating but you can never rule it out! Eliminate the big majors such as nuts and package any hand baked goods for extra safety.

3. Decorate the walls with eco Halloween goodness

Natural Decorations: Instead of buying plastic decorations that will end up in the landfill, consider using natural materials. You can create a spooky atmosphere with items like pumpkins, bulbs of garlic (for the vampires, of course), fall leaves, and pinecones. After the holiday, these can be composted or returned to nature.

DIY Décor and Crafts: Get creative and make your own Halloween decorations and crafts using materials you already have at home. This is a fun activity for both kids and adults and reduces the need to purchase disposable decorations. For example, you can cut paper into ghosts or learn the art of origami and have bats hanging from your ceiling!

LED Lights: If you want to create a spooky ambiance with lighting, opt for LED lights over traditional incandescent ones. LEDs are energy-efficient and last longer, reducing the need for replacements

Zero-Waste Parties: If you’re hosting a Halloween party, consider using reusable plates, cups, and utensils instead of disposable ones. Compost food scraps and encourage guests to bring their own reusable containers for leftovers.

4. The Pumpkin Debacle

A colossal 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins are thrown away each year which is about 360 million portions of pumpkin pie! When pumpkins are sent to landfill, they decompose and produce an extremely harmful greenhouse gas, methane. This gas is over 25 times more harmful to the Earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

How to solve pumpkin gate?

Cook or bake to avoid waste.

There are plenty of recipes online illustrating how a pumpkin can be used for all types of food – sweet or savoury. 

To the right, are some mouth watering examples of how to do this. Yes, a lot of them are from BBC Good Food, you just can’t go wrong.


Put into a food composter.

A natural way to recycle food – a food composter is your doorstep eco warrior. It’s as simple as a quick toss into the bin and you can relax!

No matter the event, whether it’s Easter, Christmas, or Halloween… celebrations generate waste but it’s through the small choices in how we choose to celebrate which makes all the difference.

Choose sustainably this Halloween and see the change!!

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