Halloween, not exactly something we would normally associate with living zero waste, but we’ve created a post to help you to reduce your impact whilst getting your ghoul on
Bad jokes are scary enough, but the real horror lies in the waste produced each year around this popular holiday. Safe to say we knew it was going to be bad, but just how bad, we drastically underestimated. Not only taking into consideration the cost but the contribution to landfill and greenhouse gases too.
We have some great ideas for reducing your waste during Halloween, forget the shop bought snacks and ‘perfect’ costumes and let’s bring back the fun and creativity with this brilliant time of year.
There are literally tonnes of pumpkins being wasted each year without using them, more than 18,000 in the UK to be specific. Food waste already contributes massively to climate change, so with a spike in this waste with pumpkins, it raises the question – why are people not using these before turning them into lanterns? Is it lack of knowledge on how to cook them? Are people averse to the taste? Let’s appreciate the wonderful pumpkin for more than just a lantern decoration and remember to compost the scraps instead of throwing into landfill.
Pumpkins are healthy for you and delicious, as another squash to add to your cooking repertoire and a quick search online and you come across masses of recipes to try out. Our first suggestion would be a simple but super tasty pumpkin and butternut squash soup:
- Scoop out seeds (you can dry these out in the oven for a tasty snack)
- Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin with a spoon
- Repeat with the butternut squash, although it may be easier to chop after peeling
- Add in 2 cloves of garlic, 1 chopped onion some oregano or parsley
- Cover in water, add vegetable stock, salt and pepper
- Bring to the boil and simmer for around 40 minutes
- Blend the mix together
- Serve by sprinkling some cinnamon, pepper and paprika or your roasted pumpkin seeds on top
By scooping out the flesh of the pumpkin you can preserve the shape of your pumpkin for a lantern so you don’t miss out on Halloween ‘authenticity’.
Snacks and food for your guisers or trick ‘n’ treaters
If you get visitors to your house, or you’re hosting a Halloween party, instead of reaching for the massive multi-packs of sweets wrapped in plastic at the shops – get creative in the kitchen, after all, cooking from scratch is a common theme in living more zero waste, as it can massively reduce packaging.
With making your own Halloween themed treats and snacks, you not only cut out a lot of additives and packaging, you have the opportunity to personalise your food while getting family and friends involved too. You can find a huge amount of inspiration with the likes of Pinterest but here are some ideas for you to start with:
- Homemade toffee apples – use teaspoons instead of a stick
- ‘Chopped fingers’ with hotdogs, breadsticks or carrot sticks – use tomato ketchup, puree or beetroot, red pepper humous for visual effects
- Make some spun sugar spiders webs – these are really fun to make, be careful though, especially with children around as it can be dangerous with hot sugar
- Make some simple butter biscuits or shortbread and decorate to your hearts content with food colouring or homemade icing and cut into some fancy shapes with a knife before baking
- Decorate some oranges as mini pumpkin lanterns
- Meringue in the shape of ghosts
- Ghost mini pizzas – cut or place the cheese of choice into the shape of a ghost, use capers, olives or peppercorns for eyes
Dressing up for an eco-lloween
While we make up words and phrases, did you know there’s an estimated 12,500 tonnes of Halloween costumes are thrown out each year in the UK? This is to landfill, never-mind the costumes that are donated to charity shops each year with barely a look in. At an estimated £155 million spent on costumes alone, worn for one day or night, why do we spend this much money for it to be thrown away?
The best way to work around this on a budget, is look at what you already have in your home that you can use. One year as a child, I dressed up as a mermaid using an eye mask as my ‘coral bra’ and my mums skirt evidently from the 70’s (and what could have been an old pair of flowery curtains) with a tie wrapped round my feet to make the tail.
Now, I may have looked nothing like a mermaid (I’ve got photos, I really don’t) but as a child, I really felt like one and was so happy. For some simple dress up ideas:
- Broom sticks, use some simple twigs and branches and tie together with string – simple but effective
- Get the sheets out – this is an old one but very effective if you have an old painting cloth sheet you can cut holes into or decorate with chalk as it’ll wash off and save your sheets
- Use or borrow work uniforms
- ‘Thrift Shop’ outfit with a nod to Macklemore
- Collect some fallen leaves to make crowns – Autumn queen anyone?
- Use some safety pins to keep other cloths together or attach signs and pictures
Children’s imaginations are amazing as most of us know. By not having everything looking like an exact copy of the character or creature they wish to dress up as, this expands their creativity and imagination therefore they can have more fun and less pressure to be ‘perfect’ – isn’t this what we all want? If not, have a scour and rescue mission in your local charity shops – there will be hundreds of costumes donated from years gone by available, with plenty for adults too!
Don’t be afraid to release your inner child’s imagination to make your own costume though. For makeup, use some kitchen ingredients like food colourings to get creative and if you’re wanting some 3D effects, use some cornflour mixed with water, to make effects along with toilet paper or newspaper. You can compost these afterwards.
Waste doesn’t need to be a nightmare
Getting creative and lessening the pressure for everything to look ‘perfect’ and focusing more on the fun side of things, you can have a great Halloween without the waste and impress everyone with your creativity while also starting the conversation and swapping tips on reducing waste for other holidays.
Got any zero waste Halloween tips? Tag us in your social posts @societyzero_cic and use #societyzero #ecolloween