It’s that time of year again. Across the country, people are stocking up on sweet treats, decorating their homes, planning costumes and in the process, generating 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste in the name of Halloween.
Every year, people from all corners of the globe come together to celebrate the spooky season. And yet, the scariest thing about Halloween isn’t the horror stories – it’s the plastic pollution.
From individually wrapped plastic sweets, polyester costumes and non-degradable decorations, plastic waste is haunting Halloween.
Costumes made to last a decade are being discarded after a day
An estimated 35 million people dress up for Halloween in the UK, but a staggering 4 out of 10 of those costumes are only worn once. That means 7 million outfits end up in landfill every year.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that costumes made to last decades are being treated as a single-use items, nearly 69% of these outfits are made from polyester – a non-degradable, oil-based plastic. That’s equivalent to 83 million Coca-Cola bottles.
If you take into account synthetic wigs, makeup, hats, glitter and all the rest, the environmental impact of our urge to dress up is a lot eerier than we can even put into numbers.
Sweet treats with a toxic trait
Whether partying or trick-or-treating in the name of Halloween, we’ve seen an upwards trajectory of people consuming sweet treats with a toxic trait – their wrappers.
Many individually wrapped single-use wrappers are mixed with other materials, meaning they can’t even be recycled. The cost and energy of separating the materials are often viewed as not worth the effort. So you can place your bets the only place your mixed material sweetie wrappers are ending up is a landfill site. Even if a confectionery wrapper is made from 100% plastic, the likelihood of it getting recycled is slim to nil. Small pieces of plastic are rarely recycled as they’re simply too tiny to pass through the machines.
Halloween decorations are often made from cheap non-degradable materials. The biggest culprit? You guessed it: plastic.
Although research doesn’t exist for the UK, consumers buy a whopping $10.8 billion worth of Halloween decor in the USA. That’s a lot of money going towards pollution. And to rub salt on the wound, 25% of it is thrown away after the holiday. Every – Single – Year.
How does this affect our oceans?
The plastic produced in the name of Halloween doesn’t just disappear. The sad reality is, it’s piling high in landfills or making the voyage into our oceans. When rubbish is being transported to landfill, small pieces of lightweight plastic often blow away. From there, it can accumulate around drains and enter our seas and river ways.
The sweets we consume for Halloween might seem like a small treat, but actually, they’re contributing to the millions of tons of debris floating around our oceans. They kill marine wildlife and damage oceanic ecosystems.
We don’t need a spell to remove plastic from the ocean. We need action.
Halloween doesn’t need to be a wasteful holiday. Whether it’s DIY cupboard costumes, cutting out unnecessary consumption, or baking sweet treats rather than buying them, there’s an abundance of solutions we can adopt to drop our plastic consumption.