Halloween is undoubtedly the scariest time of year, but for me, it’s not the ghouls that scare me, it’s the consumerism.
Here in the UK Halloween has grown in popularity over the past few years, and whilst I do enjoy taking my children out trick or treating, there in no denying the sheer amount of plastic that comes home with us is frightening.
It isn't just the sweet wrappers that cause problems however. Lets start with the preparations…
Like most folks, I really enjoy dressing up, but long gone are the days where you threw a sheet over your head with holes for eyes. You just have to step foot into any of the main retailers during October to be confronted by an array of costumes, the majority of which are made from polyester, which is made from oil.
Rather than heading out to the shops to buy a costume, look at what you already have, can you modify or dress anything up to become scary. If it’s a no, then why not hit the charity shops, these costumes have a short shelf life when we’re discussing wearability so generally make it to the charity bag in good condition and these shops are good at saving this sort of stock to put out in October. Failing that, do you have a hire shop near you or a friend who may have something to lend, after all its only for one night?
Are you even doing Halloween if you don’t have a Jack O’Lantern in your house? It’s the easiest way of welcoming people to come and knock on your door for treats on the big night. The real question is, what do you do with the innards?
If you have a pumpkin with plenty of flesh inside, there are so many delicious pumpkin recipes out there to try, I lean towards a risotto or a curry myself, although this time of year is perfect for a nice warming soup, I’ve saved some of my favourite recipes to our eco-Halloween Pinterest board, Making Halloween a Little More Green.
You will inevitably end up with some seeds whether your pumpkin is fleshy or not, you can scoop these out and either dry fry them with spices for a tasty snack, or save them for the birds, who love all kinds of seeds. To do this just spread them over a baking tray in the oven for around 10 minutes at 180'C, then when they’re cooled pop them in a bird feeder, use a knife to chop them up to make them more accessible to smaller birds.
Once you’re done with your Jack O’Lantern, leave it in the garden for squirrels to snack on, I’d suggest popping it out of the way to avoid attracting pests. Avoid throwing it straight in your rubbish bin, as in landfill they will release methane as they decompose which isn't great for the atmosphere. Instead pop it in your compost or green bin, if you don’t have a green waste bin, kindly ask a neighbour if you can use theirs. Of course, if you decide to paint your pumpkin, you will need to dispose of it in landfill, so perhaps be wary of this.
If you’re having a party or you just love Halloween, you may want to go to town slightly more than just a Jack O’Lantern in the window, maybe start treating it a little more like Christmas, and save those decorations so you can wheel them out year after year. Things like ‘caution’ tape and fake cobwebs are popular too, its most likely these won’t be reused so avoid buying them to save waste from landfill, we as consumers have power or what about making your own, using scraps of paper or card?
What’s Halloween without thousands of plastic wrapped miniature goodies… I honestly baulk at the sight of the bags upon bags of plastic wrapped treats each year, but what can we do about it, even more so in Covid times.
One idea is to draw faces on tangerines with a pen making them look a little like Jack O’Lanterns, you could have some real fun with the faces, and even if you don’t fancy the idea of handing out fruit, it could be useful to have some on hand to give to children who perhaps can’t have sweets.
Back to the sweeties however, this year I’m going to visit my local sweetshop and pick up a whole load of pick n mix, some of the Halloween stuff is great too! I’ll decant it into candy bags and seal with a trick or treat sticker and hand those out to those scary trick or treaters. One thing I’ll be mindful of is to check the ingredients and make sure I have bags on hand specifically for vegetarians (no gelatin) and coeliac’s, I suppose the joy of living in a village is, I know exactly who is and who to hand these to.
If you want to make your Halloween a little more eco friendly, I’ve collated some of my favourite ideas over on Pinterest, click here to check them out.