Packaging & the environment - Halloween special
It's Halloween time...
It's Halloween time and it's a time of trick or treat and fancy dress for thousands of children and adults across the globe.
Halloween is one of my special times of year but I'll be honest I despair at what it has become.
Yet another commercialised event and this year I am frustrated and infuriated even more than ever about it.
My comments equally apply to Christmas too.
All over the country over the last 12 months people have been reducing their plastic, using reusable water bottles instead of the PET plastic water bottles which are widely recyclable in the UK. They are being more conscious about their food purchases and avoiding plastic where they can.
But then I am still seeing these same people putting images on Facebook and Instagram of all of the Halloween "products" they have purchased to decorate their homes, to allow their children to go to fancy dress parties and to purchase sweets for "trick or treating".
It's as though all of the work being done to reduce plastic usage is thrown out of the window not only for Halloween but also for Christmas.
I walked through a store the other day and there was 2 whole aisles of products that no one ever needs in their entire lives. Halloween decorations made of non-recyclable plastic, most of which will be used once and thrown away (yet would not fall under a single use plastic legislation). The weight of these items, the plastic being used is massive in comparison to the plastic people are complaining about such as the tiny bit of shrink film around a cucumber that extends the shelf life by 14 days. Plastic that has a purpose i.e. to protect, to preserve, to contain, to inform etc. to ensure our food is safe to eat is being demonised. Whilst the little plastic demon Halloween decoration is seen as a "bit of harmless fun".
When I wrote my children story back in 2010 about all the waste in the sea (not just plastic) I actually have a plastic pumpkin bobbing along the waves.
So what can we do differently.
I'm not here to stop your Halloween and Christmas fun but I do want everyone to think about how they can celebrate without purchasing useless "tat".
So here are my Halloween tips;
- Buy real UK grown pumpkins and either carve them or use a non toxic marker pen to draw and decorate on them.I know some people who paint them with gold stripes or do all sorts of decorating techniques just put in "painted pumpkins" into google and you'll get lots of ideas.See link for some amazing ideas and use leaves and berries and natural paints to https://www.countryliving.com/diy-crafts/g1363/painted-pumpkins/?slide=14 - Now remember a lot of time, energy and resources have gone into making those pumpkins so at the end of their decorative life, cut them up and make pumpkin risotto or pumpkin pasta or pumpkin soup. If you don't like eating pumpkin then remove the decoration and chop into chunks and put at the bottom of your garden for the wildlife to eat.
- Make paper spiders, ghosts etc to decorate the house. (check online it tells you how to make these and cobwebs as well).
- If you're buying decorations then buy good quality ones that you'll put away and bring out year after year. I have two pottery pumpkins that I use each year.
- Trick or treat - wrap sweets or healthy treats in some pretty little paper bags which you hand out. You can include loose sweets you've bought in bulk or perhaps even just give the children apples and clementines (be careful with nuts due to nut allergies).
- Costumes - make them, I know you don't have time, but it won't take much effort and can be more fun. Go to the charity shop and find some old clothes that can be shredded to give a zombie look, you can have loads of fun figuring out what to make rather than a pre-made costume. Or purchase some accessories that you know will go into a dressing up box and be used over and over again.
We have seen some reports of a backlash against this unnecessary plastic;
However I do wonder what Poundland did with these polystyrene pumpkins they pulled form displayed. They probably went to landfill. :-(
The same applies to Christmas (sorry I know its early but worth thinking about now).
- Buy Christmas decorations that you'll use year after year, I buy some new ones each year and add them to my decoration collection, it means my tree's are laden with decorations and I remember where each came from.
- If you give small gift each year as a token present to people - either reconsider and say there'll be no gifts this year, or suggest you buy each other quality decorations for your tree. Each year you'll be reminded who gave them to you.
- Don't be tempted to purchase all those novelty items to fill the stocking with "stocking fillers" instead purchase useful things. Toiletry miniatures from their favourite brand for when they travel. Pens and notebooks for stationary lovers, packs of flower and vegetable seeds for the gardener, miniature jars of jam for the single person so they can try something new. Nice biscuits you know they'll love. Tea bags for the tea or herb tea lover.
- Make your own gift cards offering - baby siting for a night, you'll cook them dinner, take them on a day trip, take them on a magical mystery tour, mow the lawn, care for the cat when they're on holiday - think of things that are truly meaningful.
- Remember when you make a purchase really consider - will they use it or will it just go to charity the week after Christmas. The old adage " a dog is for life not just for Christmas" can be considered for everything. Is this a purchase they'll keep for life, use, or use regular or will it collect dust, go to charity or be thrown in the bin.
We need to reduce all resources we use and this includes those occasions when we can forget.
I know I've purchased "rubbish" and "tat" in the past, but not any more.
We can all do this together, we can all reduce what we buy and do our own bit to save our planet.
The Packaging Oracle