The days are getting shorter and the nights are drawing in. There is a chill wind blowing and the leaves are falling. It is nearly All Hallow's Eve, a time of witches and ghouls and...tonnes of plastic rubbish. This ancient celebration, which America has supercharged, grows in popularity and environmental impact every year. But Halloween can still be enjoyed without the guilt and the waste.
30m people dress up for Halloween[i] and 7m Halloween costumes are thrown away in the UK each year. Most are made from polyester or other oil-based plastic such as PVC which releases harmful chemicals as it breaks down. Two thousand tonnes of plastic waste is created from clothing and costumes alone, not considering all the plastic accessories, wigs, masks and hats. This is equivalent by weight of waste plastic to 83 million Coca Cola bottles. Not only that, but most are made very cheaply and in all likelyhood unethically.
You could make your own costumes with what you have already, borrow, swap or reuse old ones or get them second hand from charity shops. Local sewing shops will have Halloween fabrics if you have a sewing machine and Pinterest has lots of ideas for costume designs. Or if you are going to a special Halloween party then consider hiring a costume instead.
Cheap plastic Halloween decorations sadly cant be recycled as they are too poor quality. So why not use natural items such as pine cones, colourful autumnal leaves and acorns to decorate with? Or buy or make your decorations out of paper. Candles or tealights in jam jars are also a lovely to set the spooky mood. Otherwise if you don't have time to make or find paper or natural decorations then you may need to spend a bit more to invest in some good quality, non-plastic items that you can re-use year after year. LED or solar powered lights will cost you less in electricity as well as lowering your carbon footprint. There are lots of ideas on my seasonal zero waste Pinterest board here.
The vast amount of sweets and chocolate that are bought and consumed over Halloween are not only bad for our health but for the planet too. Most come in plastic bags and wrapped individually in plastic too. Foil wrapped chocolate or ones in cardboard like raisins at least can be recycled. Sugar is also a very environmentally damaging crop along with palm oil which is in many chocolate treats, so another good reason to limit naughty treats . A visit to a sweet shop or a pick 'n' mix counter will cut out some of this excess packaging. You could also give something useful instead of sugary treats like fun rubbers or spooky pencils. Or have fun making your own treats such as chocolates, biscuits, toffee apples or popcorn that can be given out in paper or cloth bags. You can get fun silicon moulds to make your own chocolates and use them for other seasonal events like valentines and Easter too,
In the UK alone,only 5% of the 10 million pumpkins that are carved out for Halloween are actually eaten. 18,000 tons of pumpkins are left to rot in the UK. All the water and energy that went into growing and transporting those pumpkins is wasted. [i]
Buying locally grown pumpkins means you are supporting local farmers but also reducing those food miles. Make sure you use the flesh that you scoop out of the pumpkin to make some delicious soup or pie and try roasting the seeds with a little salt for a tasty snack. Here are some recipes to try. Put your old pumpkin in your compost bin or food waste collection rather than your waste bin so it can give something back to the earth and not release harmful gases in a landfill site. The same goes with apples for apple bobbing too.
Reusable cutlery, plates, napkins, tablecloths, straws and other table settings not only look nicer but reduce waste and environmental impact. Again investing in some good quality crockery that you can reuse each year makes sense if you can afford it but otherwise be inventive and creative with what you already have. You can find some layout ideas on my fright night Pinterest board here.
Hope you all have a Spooktacular and waste -free Halloween!
#zerowastehalloween #greenhalloween #plasticfreehalloween
After spending a week in London with XR (Extinction Rebellion) I wanted to try and share some of the experience with you. It is very difficult to express it to people who were not there but I will do my best!
It was a really intense experience and a roller-coaster of emotions with long days, late nights, little sleep and lots of adrenalin. While holding sites there was discomfort from long periods of sitting down in tight spaces, little access to toilets and food as well as the cold & rain of autumn. I chose to take time off work and be away from my son and put my liberty at risk, but I would take all the down sides and do it all again in heartbeat to highlight the severity of the climate crisis and push for action. There are environmental activists around the world who die trying to protect our plant and our future, so these all seem insignificant in comparison. witnessing other rebels and friends making huge statements of sacrifice by gluing and locking themselves onto buildings and structures is very humbling. However, I do recognise my privilege as a white, middle class woman to be able to be part of the rebellion, but I do feel that I should use this and whatever platform I can for the cause.
On our sites we created our own XR villages complete with sustenance, art, meditation, wellbeing, first aid and stewards tents. We even had toilet tents with buckets, as the police confiscated our portaloos! Our site was next to St. James' Park where the campers had a lovely setting next to the lake and the pelicans. For me this embodied the natural world we are fighting for whilst being directly opposite the opulent buildings of Horseguards Rd which embody the establishment we are fighting against. We heard speeches from many notables including Gail Bradbrook, Mark Rylance, Bruce Parry and Rupert Read. We had live music from KT Tunstall and many others. Entertainment came from the Red Rebel Brigade, Rebel Roos, the Skeleton Parade and the dancing birds and of course people’s assemblies to make all the group decisions for the site. We truly created the society we want to see with inclusion, community and resilience.
It is difficult to describe the incredible energy of the experience in standing beside like-minded, passionate people who are using civil resistance to drive change. You begin to realise what power we all have when we come together and disobey the powers that be. That immense power of communal spirit and love was summed up for me while we protested outside the BBC by singing 'Amazing Grace'. It was so moving it had the police officers struggling to hold back tears. You also start to realise how much social conditioning we have in society to ‘put up, and shut up’, not just from the authorities but also from peers for fear of disapproval. I was quite anxious about what some friends and family would think about what we are doing in XR, but have been pleasantly surprised with all the support I have had. It is really empowering after years of feeling like we are getting nowhere with letters, petitions and marches to see people rising up and taking action.
The main thing I take away from the whole experience is the amazing sense of love. We went to London as thousands of rebels and came back as friends. Everywhere I went hugs and words of support were given, food and supplies shared and hopes bolstered. Whilst we are sitting blocking the road, the wellbeing team would pass us food, blankets, cushions and handwarmers, while legal observers would check we knew our rights. Supporters would cheer and the samba band would drum in defiance of the police. We had pizzas delivered to us from anonymous supporters, our home rebels raised money to buy extra supplies and visitors dropped off folding chairs and head lamps. We sang together, laughed together and cried together and it was the most incredible experience of my life.
#rebelforlife #actnow #tellthetruth
Why I am Rebelling
5 ways to save the planet pt2
Responding to Criticisms of the Rebellion
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