Scary Halloween sustainability facts
words by Clotilde Moullec
October 27, 2021
*BOO*, Halloween, the scariest night of the year is upon us, and you know what that means, decorated houses, pumpkin carving, children running around the night in search of candy as well as scary (and less scary 😉 ) costumes.
But this night of fun and tricks also hides some scary facts around sustainability. Whether costumes, food waste or plastic, Halloween sure has an important cost on the planet. So to give you an idea, here are some scary sustainability facts and some tips on making your Halloween greener and less costly towards the planet.
Did you know? 7 million Halloween costumes are thrown out every year. This is the equivalent to 83 million plastic bottles, most of which will end up in landfill. Just in the UK, around 2000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated from people throwing away their Halloween costumes. Along with this a majority of Halloween costumes are made out of synthetic fabrics, like polyester for instance, which when in landfill, decompose and lead to the release of harmful toxins into the environment.
Green option: Halloween costumes aren’t a throwaway item, why not reuse last year’s costume or create a costume out of the clothes you already own. There are so many characters you could be! Think about our resident Gossip Girl Blair Waldorf, all you need is a shirt, a ribbon, a blazer, a mini skirt and black pumps. Easy as pumpkin pie!
1.4 billion pumpkins are produced for Halloween every year, and in 2019, 8 million of these pumpkins went to landfill. The energy, water and other resources that are used to produce these pumpkins have an environmental impact. Not only that, when the pumpkins decompose in landfill, they emit methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.
Green option: Around 60% of consumers that buy pumpkins to carve them don’t end up eating the flesh. As a first step towards less food waste, keep the flesh of your pumpkin to make cake or pie. Pumpkin flesh can also be used to create beauty masks. And to go one step further, keep your pumpkin seeds! These have a ton of health benefits.
Americans will buy approximately 600 million pounds of Halloween candy. Of this amount, many don’t end up eaten and are then thrown away to landfill, where they will start decomposing, plastic and all, while contributing to the food waste crisis. The average trick-or-treater generates 1 pound of trash, and most of that is plastic candy wrappers. Since the plastic wrappers around sweets are very flimsy, these are usually non-recyclable.
Green option: Buy sweets that are produced locally and handmade. For this look at local small businesses that offer sweets and you will surely find what you’re looking for. Another option for something greener is to buy candy with minimal or recyclable packaging. If you have leftover sweets and just can’t eat anymore, freeze it, donate it or reuse it for other occasions. I mean, Christmas isn’t that far away, and who would ever say no to a Snickers bar on Christmas?
This year, the spend on decorations has reached an all time high in the United States, with consumers buying $10.8 billion worth of decor. This decor is usually made of plastic or non-recyclable material, with materials that include glitter for instance. After the holiday seasons, Americans usually throw away 25% more, contributing to landfill and pollution.
Green option: Reuse what you have! White sheets, pillows and a broomstick can make the perfect ghost! Use the paper and carton that you have to create bats, witch hats and more! All you have to do is get a bit crafty.
5. Halloween food
Many people buy Halloween inspired food in order to have the table look as festive as possible. In order to make this food, icing, glitter and table decorations will have to be used, generating even more plastic waste, which usually will be non-recyclable.
Green option: Halloween inspired food doesn’t have to look like a jack-o-lantern or a skeleton to be festive! Why not use specific tastes like pumpkin or candy apples to bring some halloween fun to your food? You could also carve out different shapes, make sugar cookies and make them in the shape of ghosts, pumpkins or witch hats!
Now, go and trick or treat yourself this Halloween! Don’t forget to use our tips to make sure your Halloween is more eco-friendly and if you used a vintage or second-hand costume this year, and are a fervent supporter of vintage clothing, go have a look at our blog on how to cultivate a vintage fashion archive with SYW.