The frightening truth about Halloween waste

It’s the time of year again when the leaves crunch as you walk along the path, and the trees rustle as a chilly breeze blows. The sun sets earlier, and the sky is ink-black at night, with just the moon for illumination.

With autumn comes Halloween, a popular event celebrated yearly on the 31st of October.

On this night, tiny vampires, monsters, and witches creep out from the shadows and walk the streets hungry for treats and willing to play tricks on those who don’t comply.

However, these creatures aren’t the scariest aspect of Halloween — the waste is.

Let’s explore the terrifying truth about Halloween waste and how to make eco-friendly choices for this year’s event.

How Halloween impacts the environment

Halloween spending has increased year-on-year in the UK for over a decade, and in 2022, consumers spent an eye-watering £687 million on decorations, confectionery, pumpkins, and costumes.

However, it isn’t just the spending that’s shocking — aside from edibles, Halloween purchases tend to be treated as single-use items, which is terrible news for the environment.

So, let’s dive into each Halloween buy and learn more.

Spooky decorations

Halloween decorations are typically manufactured from plastic and non-recyclable materials, and in many households, they’re used once for display and thrown away.

This practice is terrible for the environment, as plastics take between 20 and 500 years to decompose.

Decorations made from polyethene terephthalate (PET) can take around 450 years to break down, which is something to consider when purchasing or disposing of plastic decorations. This is the same material used to manufacture plastic bottles.

You can avoid adding to this environmental problem by re-using your Halloween decorations every year. As the theme for Halloween never changes, you can be confident you have the perfect decorations ready to put up each October.

Consider making natural alternatives if you want to add more decorations to your collection. Dry some leaves and collect twigs to make a Halloween wreath.

Unwrapping the trick of treats

Sweet treats are essential for the trick-or-treaters who knock on your door.

However, confectionery typically comes in individually wrapped, non-recyclable plastic packaging.

Occasionally, packaging can reduce food waste as it prevents food from going off, but it can also create waste when it’s unnecessary.

This type of waste then litters roadsides, fills bins, and pollutes the environment.

So, when choosing sweets and chocolate for trick-or-treaters this year, try to include treats with as little packaging as possible, as most can’t be recycled.

Younger children love fruit, which could be an excellent eco-friendly swap.

Carving out the truth behind pumpkins

Pumpkins are seen as a Halloween essential. They’re only available to buy in autumn and can create lots of fun whether you have a pumpkin carving competition or decorate a few for your doorstep.

If you’re keen to carve a pumpkin this year, carefully consider how many to purchase and make the most of the ones you buy.

Over half of the 24 million pumpkins carved for Halloween in the UK in 2020 became food waste, and most will have ended up on a landfill site.

This food waste can be avoided as pumpkins are edible, so you can use leftovers from carvings to cook soups, pies, and other tasty treats.

Once you’ve finished with your lanterns, if you’re not consuming the pumpkin, they should be put in your compost bin rather than the general waste bin. This is so they can compost naturally and won’t burden the environment in landfills.

The environmental cost of costumes

Dressing up is when the magic of Halloween comes to life, but 4 in 10 costumes are only worn once, and a staggering 83% are made from non-recyclable plastics. They’re typically poorly constructed, too.

Throwing old or broken costumes in the bin will result in them heading to landfill and decomposing for many years, which is a heavy price to pay for something worn just once.

The best approach to tackle Halloween costume waste is to reuse, sell, or donate your existing outfits.

If you need a new costume this year, consider purchasing one from a charity shop or making your own.

Party waste

A great way to celebrate Halloween is to throw a party for family and friends. Unfortunately, parties typically result in waste, like glass bottles, plastic or paper cups, and pumpkins.

If you feel you might get overwhelmed with the party waste, it may be beneficial to hire a skip in advance.

At Forge, we offer a range of skip sizes to suit any party and can dispose of your waste safely and responsibly. This will save you the scary task of organising and disposing of all the waste yourself.