How to have a low waste Halloween

As Halloween creeps closer once again, the excess waste we create celebrating spooky season starts to increase. Every year in the UK we spend a scary £300 million on Halloween – for costumes, decorations, food and drink. A terrifying amount of these items are thrown away and end up in landfill.

Cutting down on waste by recycling and making small changes means you can still have a fun and frightful Halloween while protecting the environment. There are all sorts of low and zero waste Halloween ideas available whether you’re decorating your home, throwing a party, or just taking the kids trick-or-treating.

Use these tips and tricks for a waste free Halloween this year.

Explore our Halloween waste guides
dog in ghost costume next to pumpkin.

Low waste Halloween costumes

According to The Fairyland Trust, 79% of kids dress up for Halloween every year in the UK (as do plenty of adults). Frighteningly though, about seven million Halloween costumes are binned each year and four in ten costumes are only worn once. Sadly, most of these creepy costumes end up in landfill.

Rather than joining in with the fast fashion trend and buying a brand-new costume, consider these zero waste Halloween ideas for you or your children’s costumes:

  • Hire a costume – if you really want to petrify people or have a specific character in mind, hire rather than buy a Halloween costume. This saves you money and means it’ll be reused rather than binned or sit in a cupboard for years.
  • Make your own – check your wardrobe for inspiration and see what you own already that can be used or adapted into a costume for you or your kids. Sheets, jackets, sweatshirts, and more can transform into simple yet scary DIY costumes like ghosts, animals, and zombies. Plus, you can dismantle them to wear/use as normal after – leaving no waste.
  • Buy a second-hand one – charity shops are great for finding items to create your own costume, but many sell complete Halloween costumes once worn by someone else. This is a sustainable choice, just check it fits and give it a wash before wearing.
  • Recycle your costume – if you must get rid of your old costume, when moving house or if it no longer fits, there are green options. Donate to a charity shop or send it for textile recycling, so the materials will be reused.

Zero waste Halloween decorations

Just over 2,000 tonnes of extra plastic waste are created every Halloween in the UK. While costumes are the main cause, the other main culprit is Halloween decorations – from lights to plastic and inflatable characters around your garden and home. Most of these are put up once, then binned when November rolls around.

Zero waste Halloween décor helps cut the amount of rubbish produced. Reusing any plastic Halloween decorations you already have and keeping them for future years is ideal. Most of them last for ages, which means you don’t need to buy any more, reducing the demand and avoiding creating extra plastic waste.

Other ideas for zero waste Halloween décor include:

  • Making your own zero waste Halloween decorations from old sheets, clothes, and fabric. Easily turn these into ghosts to hang around the house with a bit of creativity.
  • Using cardboard boxes, used kitchen rolls, and plastic bottles to create spooky animals such as bats and spiders. When Halloween is over you can simply recycle these materials as normal.
  • Buying eco-friendly Halloween decorations that are recyclable – such as paper bunting, signs, and lanterns.
  • Create tin can lanterns by punching small holes in the side of a clean and empty food can in the shape of your chosen Halloween character. Then pop in a tea light and place in a safe space for a spooky effect. You can always recycle the can later.
  • Spread dry leaves from outside on the floor and surfaces to create an autumnal aesthetic, which you can sweep away and compost at the end.

Waste free Halloween treats

Sweets and treats are Halloween staples, whether you’re handing them out to trick-or-treaters or have them in a bowl at your party. However, most Halloween sweet wrappers are made from types of plastic that aren’t recyclable. These include metallised plastic film (that looks like foil), combinations of plastic and foil (that can’t be separated) or plastics that are too low quality to recycle.

Choose sweets that come in recyclable packaging when preparing for trick-or-treaters. Waste free Halloween treats can include chocolate and sweets wrapped in paper or cardboard, as these are more likely to be recyclable. Most will say on the side whether the packaging can be recycled or not.

Other ideas for waste free Halloween treats include:

  • Home baking – if you’ve got the time, skills, and desire, why not bake your own Halloween cookies or cakes? Split these up into even portions and hand them out from a tin so there’s no packaging required.
  • Glass jar sweets – buy a traditional big sweet jar full of Halloween treats that aren’t individually wrapped to reduce packaging. Plus, glass recycling is a lot easier than plastic – or you can reuse the jar in the future.
  • Healthy snacks – fruit normally has less packaging and any waste is compostable, while some healthy crisps and treats may be in recyclable packets.

No waste tricks

Every Halloween party needs some ghoulish games, whether it’s for kids or adults. Most traditional Halloween tricks and games are low or zero waste anyway, such as apple bobbing and scary scavenger hunts. There are plenty more waste-free Halloween tricks you can add to spice up any party, such as:

  • Spooky bean bag toss – a terrifying twist on traditional bean bag toss. Decorate some old tin cans or plastic cups with Halloween characters, stack them up, and see who can knock the most down in three tries. You can always recycle the cans or plastic cups afterwards too.
  • Stringed up doughnuts – hang up a washing line inside or outside and attach a few doughnuts. Participants must eat one doughnut each without using their hands – fastest to finish wins. Plus, it shouldn’t leave any food waste behind.
  • Best dressed Mummy – teams of two or more use toilet roll to wrap someone up like a Mummy with a prize for the best one done within a time limit. All the toilet roll paper should be collected at the end and wrapped up to use or sent for paper recycling.

Pumpkins and party food

A petrifying 14.5 million pumpkins are thrown away in the UK around Halloween every year. They’re often carved up and discarded in a few days, leaving waste companies to deal with a big influx at once. But there are various ways you can cook and eat them to avoid adding to food waste.

Roast pumpkin seeds as a healthy snack, make pumpkin soup, or bake a sweet pumpkin cake (a terrifying take on traditional carrot cake). These all make great options when preparing party food for Halloween or Bonfire night just a few days later.

Try and buy sweet and savoury food in recyclable packaging when planning your Halloween party. Cooking yourself or asking friends to bring a dish or two also reduces packaging. Avoid using plastic disposable cups, cutlery, and plates too – as these can be tricky to recycle – even if the spooky designs fit the theme.

Things to do with pumpkins after Halloween
pumpkin and ghost light on shelf.

Recycle your Hallowaste

Waste is unavoidable in some cases at Halloween but recycling as much as possible can minimise the environmental impact of your frightening fun. Having recycling bins for paper, cardboard, and dry mixed recycling in high traffic areas that are easily accessible should encourage staff and guests to recycle as much rubbish as possible.

Whether you’re having a Halloween party at work, home, or just decorating the office for spooky season, we can sort you out with the right recycling bins. Contact us today for a free quote for your waste collections.

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