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Environment

10 Ways to Deal With Halloween Waste in Ways That Won't Come Back to Haunt Us


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The day has arrived! And with Halloween now Britain’s second favourite festive moment (following Christmas) people up and down the country will be celebrating.

Many will be dressing up, decorating, carving pumpkins, and — perhaps most importantly — eating all the sweets. 

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But, as the cold light of November dawns, we’re going to be 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. While some of the recycling links are geared towards people in the UK, that doesn't mean there's not inspiration for our global readers too! 

Pumpkins

Britons will be binning 8 million pumpkins over the course of the next few days — which weigh about the same as 1,500 double decker buses. 

While some are “for ornamental use only,” the majority are entirely edible. And the amount we throw away would be enough to feed all of us with pumpkin pie. 

Halloween Pumpkin Food Waste Britain UK HubbubImage: David Menidrey, Unsplash

Unlike our counterparts across the Atlantic, however, we’ve never really gotten into the habit on snacking on our carving leftovers — with just over half of Brits throwing them away instead.  

While a once-a-year event it might not sound like the biggest deal, it’s indicative of a much wider problem when it comes to food waste — both in Britain and around the world. 

In fact, globally, a third of all food being produced for human consumption is wasted.

So, back to pumpkins. 

1. Eat It

Environmental waste charity Hubbub — which has launched a #PumpkinRescue campaign — has discovered than more than half of Halloween pumpkin buyers would love to know more ways to eat up their leftovers. 

And it’s the easiest way to cut down on waste. 

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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, too — which can be roasted for a pretty great autumn snack.

2. 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. 

3. Compost It

There’s no more seasonal activity then going out and smashing a pumpkin — ideally in your own garden — and burying it to return the nutrients to the earth. 

As with more food and garden waste, pumpkins make good compost. And, if you needed more encouragement, composting at home for a year can reportedly help counteract the global warming gases produced by your kettle in 12 months — or by your washing machine in three months. 

4. Feed It to Chickens 

Slightly more niche, but if you’re a rural dweller and you or your neighbours have chickens, they apparently love pumpkin — which is also loaded with great nutrients for them, according to Countryside Daily

Chickens can eat the stringy parts, the seeds, and the side-scrapings. And the seeds also have lots of vitamin E. 

If your pumpkin is at all mouldy or rotten, cut out the bad parts and compost them instead. 

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Sweet Wrappers and Plastic Props

Whether it’s your plastic witches broom, or your decorative plastic spiders, make sure you’re recycling what can be recycled, rather than just sending it to landfill. 

Packaging should give an indication about whether or not it can be recycled, and — as different local authorities have capacity to recycle different things — check your local recycling guidelines here

Batteries

Fairy lights, artificial candles, flashing goblins and ghouls — however you choose to decorate for Halloween, we don’t always think about the batteries needed to keep these things fired up. 

But, in the UK, some 600 million batteries are thrown away every year. If they were all laid end-to-end, it from reach from the UK to Australia and back again. 

And when batteries aren’t disposed of properly, they leak all kinds of sinister chemicals into the environment. 

Instead, you can find your nearest battery disposal point here. They’re also often near by the plastic bag recycling point at larger supermarkets. 

Costumes

In 2017, an estimated 39 million people in the UK dressed up for Halloween — meaning that, once the festivities were over, millions ended up in the bin. In 2016, for example, it’s estimated that about 7 million costumes went to landfill. 

But there are so many other options. 

1. Donate Them 

If you don’t want to store your Halloween costume until next year, you can donate it to your local charity shop so someone else can enjoy it in 2020. 

2. Get Crafty 

Whether it’s mesh, velvet, sequins, or satin, all those fabrics that make up your Halloween costume are the crafter’s dream — cut it up and see how you can repurpose the material to decorate your house. 

Patchworks, decoupage, and appliqué are all ideal techniques for using up spare fabric. 

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3. Costume Swap 

Switch costumes with friends so none of you (the horror!) come dressed the same as the year before.

4. Plan Ahead 

So you’re not left with the same problem next year, get your creative thinking cap on and design yourself a 2020 costume made entirely of recyclables and sustainable materials.