No trick, no treat? Time to ban Halloween

The disposable spooky season is only scary for the environment

For a year that’s already been quite scary for a lot of people, the spookiest time of year is creeping up on us, and frankly we’re not looking forward to it.

The scary truth about Halloween is that there is plastic hidden in pretty much every aspect of celebration, from shabby costumes to the cheap plastic decorations and sweet wrappers.

All of this plastic pollution has left a sour taste for UK based waste collection specialists, who are calling for a ban on Halloween if it doesn’t become a plastic-free festivity.

“Halloween is one of the biggest events of the year, but the amount of waste it generates is disgusting,” says company spokesperson Mark Hall.

“It’s your choice, either ditch the waste or we will have no choice but to ban Halloween.”

Monstrous materials

One of the most popular ways people celebrate Halloween is by dressing up in ghoulish fancy dress, but how damaging can this be for the environment?

In 2019, it was estimated that 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste would be created by Halloween clothing, which was the equivalent of 83 million plastic bottles.*

As a nation we already throw away 7.7 billion bottles a year**, so the amount of plastic generated from creepy clothing adds an extra layer to an already huge problem.

Not only is buying a new Halloween costume every year bad for the environment, but over the years it starts to add up, so Business Waste are asking the nation to seek other options for fancy dress.

Some alternative ideas for dressing up are:

· Make your own costumes from charity shop finds – See what creative costume ideas you can make using preloved items in charity shops, plus the money goes to a good cause.

· Swap costumes with friends and family – Try switching outfits with friends or family to wear something new.

· Make your own with household materials – Fed up with generic shop bought costumes? Get creative with household items and think outside the box to be really unique.

Hall: “This all goes for decorations as well as costumes, there are plenty of ways you can set the spooky vibe without covering it in a layer of plastic.”

Petrifying plastics

To be able to throw a zero-waste Halloween means finding an alternative way to give out trick or treat sweets, as most come in plastic wrappers.

Hall: Plastic wrappers have to go, and if you can provide an alternative that’s great, especially as giving away so many sweets is only encouraging obesity anyway.

The most eco-friendly way would be to make the switch from wrapped sweets, and there are plenty of alternatives available.

The healthier option is to give away fresh fruit and vegetables, such as carrots or apples, to trick or treaters, but for those with a little bit more time on their hands, why not bake some cookies or brownies to hand out.

“Treat or treat is just awful for the environment, people go out and buy a big plastic bag full of smaller plastic bags of sweets – it’s an environmentalists’ worst nightmare,” says company spokesman Mark Hall.

“All the extra plastic will end up in landfill, that’s if it’s not already been littered somewhere by those who cannot wait to get home before tucking in.”

Carving up a nightmare

After all that, you might think that the most eco-friendly way to celebrate Halloween is to carve a pumpkin, but new research shows that more than half of pumpkins that will be bought for Halloween this year will not be eaten.***

“Pumpkin carving at Halloween is promoting food waste, nothing gets eaten and it gets thrown in the bin,” says Hall.

“There are people starving while people are wasting food as decorations. This behaviour needs to be stamped out.”

Only 42% of those intending to celebrate Halloween this year know that the inside of a pumpkin is edible***, meaning that a mountain of gourds will be heading to landfill.

Hall: “Major changes need to be made, or we will have to ban Halloween to help save our planet.

“The amount of waste just one day creates quite honestly scares the hell out of me.”

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