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Halloween crafts using felt and glue.

How to Recycle

How to have a sustainably spooky Halloween

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The spookiest night of the year is nearly here but it’s a time to scare your friends, not the planet! There’s plenty of recycling to be done around Halloween and lots of ways you can reduce the scary amount of waste generated by the fearsome festivities. Here’s how to go green this Halloween.

Get creative with costumes

Score some Halloween recycling brownie points with these top tips:

  • Make your costume from recyclable items – from cardboard box robots to DIY witch hats from old bits of fabric and ghosts from old bedsheets, it’s time to get creative!

  • Reuse costumes from previous years – there’s no shame in being the one who always comes as a zombie if you’ve already got the costume, and it saves buying new. If the kids have outgrown their costumes from last year, why not hunt around in a charity shop or online marketplaces to find something preloved? These are great places to take your outgrown costumes, too!

  • Rent a costume – if you’re after something more elaborate, or you don’t want to wear the same thing as last year, another option is to rent your costume. There are lots of websites that allow you to rent fancy dress outfits, and these not only look more impressive, but they’re much kinder to the environment!

If you’re hosting a party, why not set your guests the challenge of making their own recycled costumes? Don’t forget a prize for the most creative use of recycled materials! Why not have an #UnwornFridays Halloween special and share your pre-loved creations on social media.

Reduce your disposable plastic

Every year, Halloween can be awash with cheap plastic: LED pumpkins, scary masks and devil horns, buckets for trick or treating… the list goes on. Reduce your plastic this Halloween and make some simple sustainable switches:

  • Real pumpkins – carved or not, pumpkins of all shapes and sizes make the perfect Halloween decorations, with no plastic required. Even better, you can eat them as well as carving them! Take a look at these delicious ways to eat your Halloween pumpkins from our friends at Love Food Hate Waste, and pop any bits you can't eat in your food waste collection, if you have one. If you're not sure whether your council collects food waste, check the Recycling Locator.

  • Paper pumpkins – if you’re on a budget or just don’t want to fill your home with real pumpkins, paper pumpkins are a sustainable alternative to plastic ones. If you can’t find any in your local shop, they’re easy and fun to draw, and make great bunting when tied to lengths of string! You can do other spooky paper cut-outs, too – think spiders, skeletons and tombstones.

  • Face paint instead of masks – painting a scary face on is a great alternative to buying a plastic mask that could soon end up in the bin.

  • Real cutlery and glasses – instead of disposable plastic knives, forks and cups at parties.

  • Wicker or metal bucket instead of plastic – get the kids to gather their trick or treating haul in a more sustainable option. A bonus treat if they decorate it themselves!

Paper plate decorated to look like a carved pumpkin for Halloween.

Sweet wrappers

Gone trick or treating? That stash of sweets is probably crawling with plastic wrapping. The good news is that while these kinds of plastics can't usually be collected for recycling from your home, sweet wrappers are now recycled alongside plastic bags and wrapping at supermarkets across the country. Find your closest participating store on our Recycling Locator: Recycle an item. Just be sure to put them inside another bag and drop them off at the front of the store the next time you go shopping.

Finally, being sustainable isn’t just about recycling – it’s also about reducing the amount you need to recycle in the first place. If you’re prepping for trick or treaters arriving at your door, why not offer them some baked treats like pumpkin-shaped biscuits? This will instantly cut out the plastic wrappers, and will taste better too! What will you be treating your neighbourhood to when there’s a knock at the door this Halloween?

Sweets in wrappers

Find out what you can recycle from home:

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