Many will be dressing up, decorating, watching scary movies, carving pumpkins, and — perhaps most importantly — eating all the sweets from trick or treat.
But, as October wraps up and November begins, Halloween can also mean being left with a whole lot of rubbish to clear up. So, to make sure your Halloween isn’t having a truly terrifying impact on the environment, here are some top tips to bear in mind.
According to research from environmental charity Hub Bub, 15.8 million pumpkins will go to waste this Halloween in the UK — that’s enough for 95 million meals.
Across the pond in the US, an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown each year, but only a fifth of them are used for food — leaving a vast majority of pumpkins used for decoration during Halloween uneaten and bound for the landfill, according to the US Department of Energy.
While a once-a-year event might not sound like the biggest deal, it’s indicative of a much wider problem when it comes to food waste around the world.
In fact, globally, a third of all food being produced for human consumption is wasted.
According to Science Line, the pumpkins that get thrown away and end up in landfills decompose and produce methane, which is notoriously bad for the climate. Over a 20-year period, methane is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to warming the planet.
So, back to pumpkins.
One of the easiest (and most delicious) ways to cut down on pumpkins going to waste is to eat them. Pumpkin flesh can be used in anything from pies to muffins to soups, risotto to lasagne, curry, chili, and even puddings. And don’t forget the seeds, which can be roasted to make a nutritious snack.
Don’t Paint It
If you’re choosing between carving and painting, opt for carving as it means your pumpkin can be composted rather than having to go in the bin.
Alternatively you can use edible paints, pens, or icing to decorate your pumpkin, meaning you can still eat it after your Halloween festivities.
It doesn’t get any more seasonal than going out and smashing a pumpkin — ideally in your own garden or a garden of someone you know — and burying it to return the nutrients to the Earth.
As with most food and garden waste, pumpkins make good compost. And, if you need more encouragement, composting at home for a year can reportedly help counteract the global warming gases produced by your kettle in 12 months, or the emissions caused by your washing machine in three months.
Feed It to Chickens
Slightly more niche, but if you or your neighbors happen to keep chickens, they apparently love pumpkin. The vegetable is also loaded with great nutrients for them, according to Countryside Daily.
Chickens can eat the stringy parts, the seeds, and the side-scrapings. Plus, the seeds have lots of vitamin E.
Alternatively you can donate your unused pumpkins that haven't been carved or decorated to your local zoo, pumpkins are packed high in vitamins, potassium, protein and fiber, they'll provide a tasty extra treat for the animals, according to the BBC.
However, if your pumpkin is at all moldy or rotten, cut out the bad parts and compost them instead.
Shop-bought decorations can often be made up of single-use plastics which, when thrown away, can be damaging to the environment.
Why not get creative and make spiderwebs out of paper you have around the house, or use old bed sheets to make a hanging ghost decoration, or you can turn your pumpkins into a “mummy pumpkin” with the help of some toilet paper and two buttons for eyes. Let your imagination run wild with your DIY Halloween decor creations, and sites like Pinterest are great for inspiration.
Rather than buying sweets from the supermarket which are wrapped in plastic packaging to give out to trick or treaters, baking your own Halloween sweets, cookies, and cakes can be just as tasty. From skeleton biscuits, eerie eyeball chocolate cake pops, and candy apples, you can really get into the spooky spirit in the kitchen.
If you aren’t much of a baker, then you can aim to buy locally produced foods, candies, and treats and look for goodies with minimal packaging and/or those packaged in recycled and recyclable materials.
Instead of picking up a plastic bucket to collect trick or treat goodies this Halloween, why not use a reusable bag?
Or if you want to go DIY, then you can use and decorate household items to collect candy in. This could include using an old pillowcase, or an old bag that you’ve revamped — the best part about this is that they can be reused year after year.
Fairy lights, artificial candles, flashing goblins and ghouls — we don’t always think about the environmental impact of the batteries needed to keep these things lit up.
In the US, for example, around 180,000 tons of batteries are thrown away each year, many of which are being disposed of incorrectly. And when batteries aren’t disposed of properly, they leak all kinds of sinister chemicals into the environment.
A great way to reduce your battery waste this Halloween, is to avoid battery-powered decorations and costumes altogether. If you are going to use batteries however, make sure you’re disposing of them properly through your nearest battery disposal point.
Costumes are another big part of Halloween and another way a serious lot of waste gets generated. In fact, in the US, about 35 million Halloween costumes are thrown away each year — with over 60% of Halloween costumes taking between 20 and 200 years to decompose. Here are some ways you can help change that.
Check Your Local Thrift or Charity Shop for Your Halloween Costume
Getting your Halloween costume from a thrift store or charity shop is not only more eco-friendly, but can also help you to find unique pieces — from cowboy boots to colorful jumpsuits that can be worn all year round — ensuring you stand out from the crowd at your next Halloween party.
If you don’t want to store your costume to wear again next year or sometime after that, then you can donate it to your local charity shop so that someone else can enjoy it next year. We recommend that the items are clean and undamaged before doing so.
When it comes to accessories to go with your Halloween costume, make the swap from store-bought plastic props to upcycling. You can make your own eco-friendly Halloween accessories using materials like cardboard, wood, string, and old clothes. Swords, ears, hats, and wings can all be cut from cardboard and painted or covered with fabric.
Then, once you’re done with your costume, there’s another opportunity to embrace your crafty side.
Whether it’s mesh, velvet, sequins, or satin, all those fabrics that make up your Halloween costume are the crafter’s dream — if you have an old costume or items that don’t quite work with this year’s costume, cut them up and see how you can repurpose the material to make new clothes or accessories, or even to decorate your house. Patchwork, decoupage, and appliqué are all ideal techniques for using up spare fabric.
To save ditching your old costumes, instead you can switch costumes with friends or neighbors so none of you (the horror!) come dressed the same as the year before.
Get your creative thinking cap on and design yourself a costume now for next year made entirely of recyclables and sustainable materials.
Going trick-or-treating this Halloween season? Why not walk or cycle around your neighborhood with a group of friends instead of driving to another destination? By doing this you can get to know your neighbors, reduce your carbon emissions, and help keep the streets safe for other walkers.