Does Halloween promote unnecessary consumerism?

Whether you love Halloween or hate it, we can all agree that a lot of waste is produced every year. What can we do to change this, whilst also celebrating this much-loved holiday?

Scarlett Welch
18th October 2021
Image from Pixabay @Pexels
Cast your mind back to all the Halloweens you’ve lived through. Each year, you’ve probably bought at least one Halloween costume. And how many times have you worn them since?

Halloween costumes are generally made from cheap synthetic materials. While this might be great for a quick and easy spooky look, it’s not so good for the environment. In 2019, an estimated 2000 tonnes of plastic waste was generated by discarded Halloween clothing alone. 

We’re all well aware of the dangers of fast fashion; it’s a problem all year round, but is particularly amplified during occasions which are celebrated in the form of dress-up. Halloween compounds this issue dramatically as sales of synthetic, wasteful clothing skyrockets.

It’s not just clothing that’s an issue at this time of year. Food waste is also extortionate. According to the Guardian, roughly 12 million pumpkins go uneaten each year in the UK - the equivalent of enough pumpkin pie to feed the entire nation. Similarly, a vast amount of the sweets children receive whilst trick or treating (again, usually plastic-wrapped) will go uneaten.

In 2019, an estimated 2000 tonnes of plastic waste was generated by discarded Halloween clothing alone. 

Every holiday season comes with over-inflated levels of consumerism. Just think of all the wasted food and gifts at Christmas. But Halloween stands out as one of the most consumerist holidays, as almost every aspect of it is driven by the need to purchase unnecessary items such as costumes, plastic decorations and over-indulgent food.

So what can be done to change this?

Whilst the idea of re-wearing a Halloween costume may be unappealing, you can always re-purpose items from previous years to create a brand new look. And if buying new items are strictly necessary, then try to look for more sustainably-sourced materials. Maybe go easy on the throwaway decorations for your next Halloween party, or at least use them again next year. 

In a largely consumerist society, it can be difficult to avoid waste. However, Halloween is a time of year where this problem becomes much, much worse, and this needs to change.

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