27 Oct Halloween Food and Plastic Waste Nightmare
Halloween food and plastic waste – both escalate to levels you wouldn’t conventionally think about at this time of year.
Have you thought that each individual wrapped sweet you give out contains plastic? All those little bags of Haribo or mini bags of chocolate buttons, all those Cadburys Hero’s – every single one of those is cloaked in plastic, which ultimately end up in landfill.
And did you know that Halloween costumes and clothing on sale from six major retailers in the UK is 90% made from plastic (polyester is plastic)? Or that this can create up to 2,600 tons (2.6 million kilogrammes) of extra plastic waste simply from the amount of costumes literally thrown away by families each year.
That’s the equivalent to over 100 million plastic Coca Cola bottles. Last year, in the UK alone, over seven million costumes were disposed of.
And then comes the Halloween food waste. Forty percent of people in the UK now buy a pumpkin at this time of the year, according to new figures. And in contrast to the US where 80% of pumpkin buyers enjoy turning their fruit into soup or traditional pumpkin pie, their UK counterparts have been far more reluctant to cook the scooped-out insides, with only a third choosing to do so.
As a result, 18,000 tons of perfectly edible squash is literally tipped straight into the bin every Halloween – weighing the same as 1,500 double decker buses.
Overall UK households throw away more than 7m tonnes of food and drink each year, equating to £60 a month for the average family. Not only does this represent a waste of money, but the food emits harmful greenhouses gases when sent to landfill, which contributes to climate change.
So what can you do about your Halloween this year? Have you bought your pumpkin and already got your polyester costumes at the ready? Here’s a few changes you can still make even at this late notice!
10 Ways to have a plastic free and minimal food waste Halloween
- Plastic free foods – toffee apples, homemade chocolates and popcorn, loved by most and include zero plastic.
- Costumes – upcycle clothes in your wardrobe or from a charity shop. Re-use old costumes too! Hand them down to other family members once they are outgrown or pop them into your local charity shop – that way they raise funds for a local cause too!
- Decorations – make your own. Pine cones make great owls and milk containers can be perfect ghosts. Painting glass jars with white paint and sticking ghost eyes on before popping a tea light inside also works well!
- Games – paint used tin cans in a variety of different Halloween characters and throw a tennis ball to knock them down.
- Exchange – swap costumes and/or decorations with a friend.
- Trick or treat – fill a reusable bag with sweets instead of plastic containers. Or better still make your own cupcakes and decorate them using the many free cupcake wrappers and cake toppers you can find on Pinterest.
- Jam jar lanterns – coloured tissue paper and tea light make pretty alternative to torches. Just remember to consider that the wire can get hot, and polyester costumes are highly flammable.
- Pumpkins – carve your own and avoid plastic or styrofoam ones. Or better still get a reusable terracotta pumpkin and bring it out each year.
- Make your own witches broom – a long branch, twigs secured with string.
- Compost – pumpkins make great fertiliser. Or you can make a pumpkin pie, or warming soup.
How to make pumpkin soup
Ingredients (serves two):
- 700g of pumpkin, skinned and chopped into 2cm pieces
- 25g of butter
- One medium onion, chopped
- 275ml of double cream or full-fat milk
- 275ml of stock
- salt and pepper
How to make:
- Melt butter in deep saucepan on medium heat
- Add onion and stir until soft
- Add pumpkin
- Season well with salt and pepper
- Lower the heat and leave for around 10 minutes, letting the vegetables sweat
- Pour in cream/milk
- Cover pan and let the mixture simmer gently for around 20 minutes
- Pour in food processor/blender and puree – it doesn’t need to be completely smooth, so don’t worry if there’s still a bit of texture
- Serve soup, when hot.
We hope you find these tips for reducing Halloween food and plastic waste useful – and if you’d like some more help to consider your environmental impact and run a small business, please give us a call and we can see what we can do to help! We offer eco-coaching and mentoring support as well as day-to-day business support and marketing assistance.
Alison is the owner and Director of Serenity VA and provides Business & Marketing services to clients across the globe. For more information see www.serenityva.co.uk Or give us a call! We are always happy to discuss how we can help you and your business!