As Halloween costumes generate 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste – how to have a plastic-free night

Spooky season doesn’t have to come at a cost to the environment.

Halloween is many people’s favourite time of the year. There’s the carving of pumpkins, the trick or treating and – most importantly – the chance to go all out with a killer costume. But have you ever thought about how much plastic waste dressing up creates?

New research from Hubbub has revealed an estimated 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated by throwaway Halloween costumes each year in the UK alone, equivalent in weight to 83 million plastic bottles.

Costumes made from cheap materials like polyester, as well as plastic masks, wigs and props, all contribute to the problem. Many are often worn just once, with Hubbub reporting seven million outfits are thrown away each year.

If these numbers are haunting you, the good news is, with a bit of creative thinking, you can totally enjoy a plastic-free Halloween, and still look just as epic in the process…

Assemble your outfit from vintage shops

Instead of panic buying a plastic-based costume from an expensive fancy dress shop, bring pre-loved clothing back from the dead by going on a thrift hunt.

Vintage and charity shops are great places to find cheap Halloween costumes. That frilly 1950s dress could easily be transformed into a creepy sister from The Shining, or a dark suit could form the base of a Frankenstein’s monster transformation.

If you’ve got basic sewing skills, there are also loads of tutorials on YouTube that will show you how make your own costume. All you’ll need is a sewing machine, some old fabric and a weekend to get creative.

Host a costume swap with friends

One of the most wasteful elements of Halloween is the fact people don’t want to wear the same outfit every year, so they often end up in landfill after just one outing.

A great way to get around this? Organise a costume swap with friends. Get your pals to bring their unwanted clothing to your house and trade between yourselves.

There’s a good chance someone’s pre-loved costume will look great on you – and you’ll save a few quid in the process.

Ditch the plastic straws and cups

If you’re throwing a Halloween party, skip the plastic straws and cups – these are some of the biggest contributors to ocean plastic.

Instead, opt for utensils and glassware that can be washed and reused. If you’re worried about things getting smashed or damaged, opt for compostible paper options instead.

Make your own treats

Many of us like to be prepared with a bucket of treats for passing trick or treaters, but store-bought sweets and cakes come in plastic wrapping that often doesn’t get recycled.

Why not get creative in the kitchen instead? It’s a fun afternoon activity for the kids and a great way to reduce your footprint. Whip up a batch of homemade bat-shaped biscuits, a set of spooky cupcakes, or simply add some green food colouring to a bowl of fresh popcorn.

Opt for eco-friendly glitter

Fancy adding a bit of glitz and glamour to your costume this year? Make sure to stock up on plastic-free, biodegradable glitter ahead of the big day, to ensure you’re not contributing to ocean plastic pollution.

Make decorations from scrap paper

A pile of old scrap paper can be snipped and strung together into a paper garland. Old egg-cartons can be painted to look like a row of pumpkins and you could even collect leaves, dry them out and paint them white to look like ghosts.

They’ll look even more crafty than the ones you buy from the shop and you can save and reuse them for years to come.

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