The Halloween season is upon us, and although COVID has put a halt on parties, gatherings and trick or treating, for many of us the celebrations may still continue just from the comfort of our homes or for children in schools. The reduction in public interaction, will not mean a reduction in Halloween waste.17 million pumpkins are estimated to be purchased in 2020, with only 95% for the sole purpose of being carved into a jack o’ lantern.
However, pumpkins aren’t the only trouble causer when it comes to seasonal waste, costumes and decoration also have a big part in the mounting Halloween trash. Even during these restricted times, people are still very keen to join in the Halloween fun, but at an often unknown cost to our planet. We have devised a few handy Halloween tips, to try and reduce your festive waste through the means of recycling, re-using and repair.
Although the typical purpose of purchasing a pumpkin for Halloween is to be carved into a spooky jack o’ lantern, they can have multiple purposes which will help reduce the levels of gourd waste. The main of course being cooking or baking them. The flesh and seeds of the pumpkin are all edible. The flesh of the pumpkin can be roasted, to make a hearty snack, or can be boiled and blended into healthy stews, soups and pies! The seeds can also be roasted and seasoned to be turned into a snack, alternatively, you can save your seeds and dry them out to be planted in the spring, so you can grow your own. After October 31st, thousands of carved pumpkins get thrown into the general waste bin – however, due to their vegetable status, they can be placed into the food/garden waste recycling bin, where they will breakdown into compost.
Children and adults alike, tend to revert to fancy dress during the Halloween Season, often buying brand new outfits to wear and scare. Statistics show that these outfits are often only worn a single time, before being disposed of in the general waste and then a new outfit is purchased 12 months later, and this cycle continues. As we often state, textile waste is one of the fastest-growing problems we face, this is why we always encourage recycling your clothing in textile bins, bags or to charity shops. When hunting for your costume, search the local charity shops and second-hand clothing outlets first (these can also be online e.g. Depop, Ebay or Facebook Market Place). This should also be the protocol when you are disposing of your unwanted costumes. Some schools or communities also have a costume swap service, where children can trade in their worn outfit for a new one – great for those children who have little money and for those who have had a growth spurt over the past year. And of course, for those handy with a needle and thread, you can always create your own costume from old or unwanted clothing – giving the waste a new lease of life.
Many households often become a decorative scene on October 31st, yet sadly once again once November strikes, these decorations get put straight into the waste bins. This is easily avoided by saving the decorations for future years, of course, this will save on waste levels but also save on money. Another way we can reduce this waste is by creating our own decorations. Old bedsheets can be turned into ghost and ghouls, used tins and jars can be painted to create table decorations and old onesies and old clothes can be stuffed and turned into spooky scarecrows.
Traditionally many children across the globe head out to go trick or treating, where they get given a bundle of sweets and treats. These sweets are often enclosed in un-recyclable packaging, which will end up in landfill. Instead of giving away these unrecycled goods, why not always looks for sweets that are in paper, foil or recycled plastics. Or even better, create your own treats! Buns, cookies and cakes are the perfect trick or treating goodie, it also gives you an opportunity to use up your baking ingredients which may alternatively go to waste. This is a brilliant opportunity for reducing both food waste and packaging waste.
Halloween is seen as a scary time of year, but the waste does not need to be part of this horror!