Halloween is a wonderful time for getting dressed up in your best costumes, hosting fun themed parties and of course, the candy. But seldom do we think of all the waste it produces, from the wrappers on the candy to your costumes themselves. Here are some simple ideas on how you can make this Halloween your most sustainable one yet!
Rent or swap costumes
Halloween costumes create an extraordinary amount of waste; in 2019, in the UK alone, an estimated 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste were generated from throwaway Halloween costumes, the equivalent of 83 million plastic bottles. Further, of 324 separate textile items, the most common plastic polymer found was polyester, which accounted for 69% of all materials, while cotton made up only 10%.
You can still have an amazing Halloween look without the associated waste. Costume shops hire out a huge selection of amazing costumes that are better quality than fast fashion options (like Fortune Costume in Tsim Sha Tsui). You can also host a fun clothing swap with your friends to swap costumes, or you can even scrounge around your wardrobe and put something together DIY-style.
Luxury children’s clothing reseller, Retykle, is hosting its annual Halloween costume swap campaign until 31 October 2021, where parents can bring their kids’ outgrown costumes to swap or pay just HK$50 to buy something ‘new’ (if they don’t have any costumes to swap). See details on the campaign here!
Use sustainable decorations
Think spiders, eye balls, spider webs and pumpkins, along with many other items commonly used to set a spooky scene. Most of these (if not all) are made from cheap plastic, which is made from petroleum, a significant contributor to global warming.
If you do buy decorations, make sure that they’re reusable and good quality so that you can use them year after year. You can also create your own decorations – we found this list of easy-to-follow Halloween decorations tutorials – to cut back on waste.
Choose soy candles
Candles are perfect for creating a moody atmosphere, but less thrilling is that many of them are made with paraffin wax, which are not only created with petroleum but may also release dangerous chemicals. Be sure to light up soy-based or beeswax candles instead.
We love this beautiful soy-based candle from The Lion Rock Press adorned with the Hong Kong skyline.
Make Your Own Treats
Some of the biggest candy makers in the world including Cadbury and Nestlé have a massive impact on the environment. The demand for sugar, palm oil and cocoa beans in their products causes deforestation and species extinction and they have been found to source their cocoa from countries that use child labour or slave labour to harvest cocos beans. Besides the products themselves, the packaging they come in are very often non-recyclable, so they will persist in the environment for potentially thousands of years.
Get into the Halloween mood and make your own treats instead! Cookies are always a hit, and you can decorate them to be Halloween-themed. You could also make fudge or home-made lollies. Instead of wrapping them in plastic or cellophane, you could put them in paper bags decorated with Halloween-themed images. Alternatively, head to zero-waste stores around Hong Kong for packaging-free sweet treats that are vegan-friendly and contain only natural ingredients.
Avoid single-use items
Think of all the waste created over Halloween – between candy wrappers, disposable cups, plates and cutlery, as well as plastic treat buckets, it’s overwhelming. Cut down on your Halloween footprint with reusable tableware for parties and a reusable option for treats (hint – if you use a pillowcase, you can fit more candy in).
You can buy cute-looking reusable containers, like these glass containers, from zero-waste stores.
Use the whole pumpkin
Using pumpkins for Halloween may not be a widely-followed tradition in Hong Kong, but many people use plastic ones as decorations. This year, why not use a real pumpkin to carve and display? It will definitely create a fun atmosphere and it won’t create waste or take up valuable space in your apartment post-Halloween. Don’t forget to save those pumpkin seeds to roast later, use the flesh for various recipes or compost them all together!
How eco-unfriendly is your cocktail? It’s difficult to say which alcohols are “green,” since production methods, distillation techniques and ingredients vary from bottle to bottle or even the same kinds of spirits. Certain kinds of alcohol are generally more sustainable, like organic wine and certain kinds of beer, but if you want to be more creative but no less sustainable, use fruit peels as cocktail garnishings instead of throwing them away or use sustainable alcohol, like Flor de Caña, a fair trade-certified and sustainably produced rum from Nicaragua.
All that face paint and glitter has to go somewhere after you remove it and it usually heads into waterways, potentially releasing dangerous chemicals. Instead, use eco-friendly face paint and glitter to achieve amazing Halloween looks without the negative environmental impact. These face paints from Natural Earth Paint are made using natural and organic pigments that are free of parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, petroleum-based pigments and animal products, but are still opaque. These glitters from TodayGlitterShop are 100% plastic-free and are biodegradable!
We hope that this list of hacks inspires you to be more sustainable this Halloween; there is no reason that you can’t keep up your eco-habits just because you’re celebrating.
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to be eco-conscious, follow our Instagram for more ideas (@8shadesofficial)!
See also: Swap, Don’t Shop: Join Retykle’s Halloween Costume Swap