Halloween will be different this year. But that's okay. We can still enjoy some Autumn traditions like pumpkin carving and eating toffee apples. Here’s 7 top tips to get creative, be spooky, save money and help the planet.
1) Reuse, up-cycle and repurpose Halloween costumes
A scary fact for sure. An estimated 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste – equivalent to 83m bottles – will be generated from throwaway Halloween clothing sold by leading retailers in the UK this year.
An investigation by Hubbub, an environmental charity, into the seasonal outfits available from 19 supermarkets and retailers – including Aldi, Argos, Asos, Amazon, Boden, John Lewis, M&S, Next, and Tesco – found that 83% of the material used was polluting oil-based plastic likely to end up in landfill. Yikes! And if you’ve not read our blog on ocean threads - there’s the microplastic problem that’s shredded from washing them too.
You can help reduce the problem by saying no to any new costumes. There’s already plenty available in your local charity shops, eBay and local selling sites. And let’s admit it… we’ve all got an old grubby top just waiting to be transformed into something scary! Get your creative juices flowing.
2) Feed the birds leftover pumpkin seeds
Birds love all kinds of seeds, pumpkin included, so you could save the seeds, dry them out a little and pop them in your feeders. Zero food waste and helping your feathered friends.
3) Reduce food waste
Another frightening aspect of Halloween = the sheer volume of food waste caused by pumpkin carving. A shocking 8 million pumpkins were sent to landfill last year - the equivalent of enough pumpkin pie to feed the entire nation! Each pumpkin has taken up water, soil and habitat to be grown. Some, we're even grown with chemicals and pesticides.
Pumpkins are known for a whole wealth of health benefits; they help weight loss, bone and eye health, blood pressure and they're loaded with antioxidant properties. So it seems so silly to waste the inner flesh! Here is our hearty pumpkin soup recipe to try. Don’t forget that any part of the pumpkin you don't eat can be composted too!
4) Grow new pumpkins
Pumpkins are great fun to grow with children. They are easy to cultivate, are fascinating to watch grow (like Cinderella's pumpkin carriage) and finish with the fun of p-p-p-picking them for carving.
So when you're hollowing out your pumpkins, put some seeds to the side. Store them in an airtight container. In April (it’ll be worth the wait), loosely pack some potting soil in a cup or a container with holes for drainage. Plant two to four pumpkin seeds 1 inch (2.5 cm.) deep in the soil. Water the pumpkin seeds just enough so that the soil is moist but not swamped.
Once the seeds have germinated, thin out all but the strongest seedling. Place the remaining seeding in a bright window. Once all danger of frost has passed (be careful of that late May frost), move the pumpkin seedling to the garden. Carefully, remove it from the cup, but don’t disturb the roots of the plant. Dig a hole 1-2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm.) deep and wide and fill with the pumpkin plant and fill in the hole. Water thoroughly. Enjoy watching their beautiful yellows, oranges and greens grow!
If you have an allotment or vegetable patch in your garden pumpkins can provide fantastic weed control as the weave in and out of your other plants.
5) Buy plastic-free treats
Purchasing individually wrapped sweets coated in plastic amplifies our single-use plastic crisis. Opt for sweets packaged in cardboard boxes - there’s loads out there including Smarties, Poppets, M&Ms, Nerds and Dots. If you’re staying in this year, you can also treat the kids by picking up a sharer bag of sweets and repackaging them into small paper bags. This would work nicely with Haribo and gummy worms etc. You can even hide them around the house, or into pumpkins to create an indoor treasure hunt. Even better, why not hand out eco treats like bamboo or grass straws and bamboo toothbrushes to help children start their plastic-free journeys.
6) Harness pumpkin’s wonder properties for your hair
We bet you’ve never made your own pumpkin hair mask before? This is a great activity to try with the kids this year - especially to make staying indoors feel exciting and new. Pumpkin can work wonders for your hair and is an amazing conditioner! Reserve some of your pumpkin flesh and visit this four-ingredient recipe to make your own pumpkin hair mask.
7) Support local and small businesses with your decorations
We’ve been blown away with the creativity of small businesses this year creating spooky and special decorations to create a misty atmosphere. Take some time browsing these stores and invest in long-term items like crocheted pumpkins, embroidered signs and bunting etc which can be reused every year.