The UK loves to embrace the tradition of Halloween and celebrate the seasonal spookfest by dressing up, however this huge expenditure is not only burning holes in our pockets, it has become the biggest ‘single use accessory’ of the season.
Recent research suggests that over 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste (the equivalent to 83 million plastic bottles) will be generated and discarded by single-use Halloween costumes and outfits sold on the high streets and via leading online retailers. With an estimated 39 million people in the UK dressing up for Halloween last year, spending a total of £510 million on outfits alone and 7 million costumes ending up in the bin in 2016, Halloween is proving deadly to the environment.
A study carried out by environmental charity Hubbub, looked at the Halloween outfits available from 19 retailers and supermarkets, including Aldi, Argos, Asos, Amazon, Boden, John Lewis, M&S, Next, and Tesco. It revealed that 83% of the materials used within the costumes were polluting, unrecyclable, oil-based plastics – destined to end up in landfill. The research showed that across 324 separate costume items, the most common plastic polymer detected was polyester (a heavily chemically processed, synthetic fibre). This polyester accounted for 69% of all materials, while biodegradable cotton made up only 10%.
This year, consumers can make a difference to these frightening figures by considering more environmentally friendly, sustainable options…
1. Avoid buying new plastic costumes – check the labels if you are unsure, materials such as polyester ARE plastics
2. Buy existing (plastic or otherwise) costumes from charity shops, eBay or other Buy and Sell platforms
3. Reuse, share or swap costumes with friends and family
4. Do not throw away any already-purchased costumes – keep them for re-use and store outfits as hand-me-downs for the future or donate to charity
5. Make your own costumes using non-plastic materials