Does Halloween have to end in doom and gloom?
With Halloween just around the corner, we wanted to let you know how to creep it real while doing your bit for the planet. Americanised Halloween celebrations are a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, but did you know All Hallows Eve is a much older festival with Celtic and Pagan traditions? With links to the Gaelic festivals Samhain which marks the end of the harvest, and Bealtaine which is when the boundary between our world and the spiritual plains are easily crossed, it was adopted by Christianity as a way of remembering the dead and saints, known as hallows. Fast forward to today and we see festivities fuelling consumption, generating excessive waste and releasing carbon emissions. Are ghosts really the thing to worry about, or should we be more concerned with the impact on our environment? Here are some ideas to help you have a green Halloween - or Hallowgreen if you will.
Frightening food waste and petrifying pumpkins
15 million pumpkins are grown in the UK every year (Countryside Online) but 1/3 of these won’t even leave the farm. Many of them are rejected by retailers as they are deemed too ugly or irregular (Oddbox). Of those that made it into our shops last year, 95% were hollowed out and used in decorative displays, but less than 60% of people who used pumpkins in this way cooked the edible flesh (the Guardian). That’s a terrifying amount of food waste!
Trends have seen a move away from pumpkin carving and a newfound love for displaying them whole in their natural, more rustic state. Before your perfectly edible pumpkin perishes, why not cook up a storm with some delicious recipes or donate it? The birth of food sharing apps such as Olio and Too Good To Go make it possible to eat, drink and be scary, but without the frightening effects of food waste. You could even trick or treat yourself to some delicious party snacks using one of the apps.
If you’re not a wizard (or witch) in the kitchen and aren’t able to share your unwanted food, it can still do some good. Talk to your workplace about recycling your food waste with First Mile. Unlike your average composting service, using our food sacks means your unwanted food is transformed into biogas and a rich digest used by farmers to fertilise the land for next year’s harvest.
Halloween sees our high street stores and fast fashion sites filled with ‘seasonal holiday fashion’. The majority of these garments are made from synthetic materials, typically worn once, and then thrown in the bin. Even if kept to use again next year, washing such items releases damaging microfibres (up to 17 million in each wash!) and because of their low quality, many won’t last. In 2016, 7 million UK Halloween costumes were thrown away (commercialwaste.trade). This, along with the plethora of plastic costume accessories on sale has a huge impact on our environment. It’s estimated that 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste will be generated by throwaway Halloween clothing this year (The Guardian) and 83% of the material used in supermarket costumes is harmful oil-based plastic (Hubbub).
To reduce your Halloween costume footprint, why not try making costumes from existing pieces in your wardrobe which you can keep using again? Need to purchase something? Consider going to charity or vintage shops to reuse someone else’s pre-loved clothing. Once you’ve decided to part ways with your costume, encourage your workplace to have a costume amnesty with our textile recycling service or recycle box. If you are looking for something closer to home, there are lots of textile collection points, and costumes donated in good enough condition will likely be reused again.
With face gems and glitter completing many Halloween makeup looks, it can be tempting to follow the trend. Although they make you look like you’re ready to slay (quite literally if you’re channelling Buffy the vampire slayer vibes) they’re not a friend of the planet. Glitter and gems are single-use plastics, so if you really can’t live without them, opt for Eco Stardust, a plant-based glitter which is much kinder to mother nature. You can still achieve your #SquadGhouls of looking boo-tiful without the worry of the effects on the planet.
Throwing a great party doesn’t have to mean throwing loads of waste in the bin. Try to avoid single-use plates and cups, but if you really have to use them, avoid the dreaded Styrofoam cup as they are notoriously tricky to recycle. Opt for an easily recyclable material such as PET (type 1) plastic. Make sure your friends know which bin is which so you don’t end up with plastics with your pumpkin, and cans with your candy. For easy recycling at your office party, provide your colleagues with a plastics & cans bin, one for glass bottles, another for food and if there is anything else left over it can go in our zero-to-landfill general waste. If you’ve opted for compostable packaging to serve up your fangtastic treats, make sure these don’t end up in general waste, mixed recycling or food bins where they can do more harm than good. Instead, use our compostable packaging service or our RecycleBox to turn them back into nutrient-rich compost and green energy. And saying all that, if you’ve got plenty of plates and cutlery at home or work, you might as well use those than buying lots of disposable tableware!