Halloween – a time of spooky costumes, lots of sweet treats, and creepy decorations – is celebrated with great enthusiasm across the world, but it can also be a nightmare for the planet. With a little planning and some conscious choices, you can celebrate this holiday sustainably by reducing waste and minimising your carbon impact.
1 . Eat or compost your pumpkins
Pumpkins are an iconic symbol of Halloween, but their popularity comes at an environmental cost, as around 60% of these pumpkins end up in landfill, where they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
Another option, if you do decorate a pumpkin this year, is to eat it. You could make roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie, or perhaps a soup or curry. Here are some tasty recipe ideas to try.
If you aren’t keen on pumpkin, then you could also try carving other fruit that you do want to eat, such as watermelon with its spooky red insides, pineapple with scary spikey hair, or even oranges.
But if you do carve a pumpkin and don’t manage to eat it, or have any leftovers, then ideally compost them. Food waste is a huge problem globally, accounting for 6% of all greenhouse gas emissions which, if it was a country, would make it the 3rd largest emitter behind China and the US.
2 . Make or reuse a costume
One of the most exciting aspects of Halloween is dressing up in costumes, but the production and disposal of costumes has a big impact on the environment.
Polyester, a common fabric used in Halloween costumes, does not biodegrade. Many costumes are designed for a single use, and when they’re discarded, they may take hundreds of years to decompose. Globally, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste is created each year.
During the washing of synthetic costumes, tiny plastic microfibers are released into wastewater, eventually finding their way into rivers and oceans. These microplastics pose a significant threat to aquatic ecosystems and can even enter the food chain, potentially harming both wildlife and humans.
Instead, consider making your own costume from items you already have or buy second-hand clothing. This not only reduces waste but also encourages creativity. If you do buy something new, then look out for sustainable fabrics, and donate it to a charity shop when you’re finished with it.
3 . Decorate sustainably
When decorating your home or garden, aim for sustainable materials and decorations. Use items like cardboard, paper, and natural materials like twigs and sticks to create spooky decor. You could also purchase eco-friendly decorations or make your own, to reduce the demand for new items.
If you decorate with lights, look for energy-efficient LED bulbs. These use less electricity and last longer than traditional bulbs. Additionally, you could use timers or solar-powered lights to minimise energy consumption.
4 . Hand out eco treats
Handing out sweets and chocolates is a Halloween tradition. Try to look for sweets packaged in recyclable or compostable materials. These can be tricky to find, but options are increasing.
If you’re giving out chocolates, look for ones that carry the Fairtrade logo, which ensures that the cocoa used in the product has been sourced from farmers who are paid fairly and work in ethical conditions.
Support local businesses, where possible, by purchasing treats and snacks from local farmers’ markets or stores, helping to lower carbon emissions and the environmental footprint of items purchased.
Halloween’s impact on the environment can be frightening. However, by following these 4 steps, you can enjoy a more eco-friendly Halloween that helps to reduce your environmental impact, supports local businesses, and promotes responsible consumption. Let’s make Halloween a little less scary for the planet.