Dear Recycling Bins: Our Weekly Recycling Advice Column
Welcome to our weekly advice column where we look at all things recycling and give you the answers you’re desperately seeking.
Dear Recycling Bins,
The kids have persuaded me to throw a Halloween party this year. While I’m not a party pooper, I remember having a party for them a few years ago, and there was so much waste!
As well as having mountains of leftover food, there was lots of waste packaging and decorations (much of which was plastic, I’m ashamed to say).
My question to you is how can I throw a party without creating so much waste?
Thank you for your question!
Halloween can be a lot of fun, but it can also be wasteful if you’re not careful. It’s so easy to end up with a lot of waste food, decoration, and costumes, as you know.
Here are our top tips on cutting waste, recycling more, and having a guilt-free party.
As far as decorations go, why not try making your own, or using things you already have in the house? You can find inspiration for decorations here, and you can make everything from hanging bats to origami pumpkins!
If you do buy your decorations, buy recyclable ones wherever you can. If they’re made from paper or card, they’re easy to recycle, but when it comes to plastics, check the packaging to see if it’s recyclable. If in doubt, check your local council’s website for guidance on the plastics they accept. Remember to remove any ribbons, staples, or pins from decorations before you recycle them.
Next, let’s talk about the pumpkin. It wouldn’t be Halloween without one, but if all you do is scoop them out, carve them, then throw them away after the event, it’s quite wasteful. There are so many things you can do with your pumpkin after Halloween. You can add it to your compost pile or bin, or use it in some delicious pumpkin recipes. Here are some delicious ways that you can use pumpkin once it’s served its scary purpose.
When it comes to costumes, the most wasteful thing you can do is to buy a costume, wear it once, then throw it away. It’s amazing how many people do this, but costumes can be bought so cheaply online or at discount stores so it’s always a temptation. Far better for the environment, and for your pocket, are these ideas:
- Buy a second-hand Halloween costume from a charity shop or from somewhere like eBay
- Get creative and make your own from old outfits or bits and pieces you already have at home. (If you don’t feel confident in your skills, enlist the help of a creative family or friend.)
- Revamp an old costume and change your hair, makeup, and accessories
- Swap costumes with a friend for a bit of a different look (no fighting over who wore it better!)
- Hand down old adult costumes to children or teenagers who will fit into them as they grow
- Even a damaged or stained costume could be reused, you don’t have to throw it away. What if you kept the costume, added a few strategic rips and tears, or maybe some fake blood here and there, and went as a zombie?
And finally, Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without the party treats. We know it’s hard to not buy too much food, but do try to buy just what you need. Make sure you cover your leftovers (with foil not clingfilm, which is single-use plastic and should be avoided at all costs!) and eat them or give them to friends or family to take home. Avoid plastic cutlery and straws, and use recyclable paper versions where possible. Invest in paper or metal straws, or just do without them altogether.
When it comes to party treats, or sweets and treats for trick or treaters, try to avoid individually wrapped sweets and chocolates if you can (they’re usually made from plastic). Instead, whip up some popcorn, homemade cookies, or cupcakes. Of course, not every parent wants their child to accept homemade treats, so do offer some treats in recyclable boxes or packaging as well. Treats like mini boxes of smarties always go down well. They’re housed in cardboard and are 100% recyclable.
If you’re making up party bags, put the treats in a paper bag or reusable tote bag. Your kids can also use them for their sweetie haul when they go out around the neighbourhood.
We hope this helps!