Everyone wants to avoid plastic but it’s hard at Halloween, which is now second only to Christmas as date for family days out, parties and celebrations, and sees a tide of plastic tat in many shops.
Sarah Wise of the Fairyland Trust offers these ideas for achieving a #plasticfree Halloween connecting with nature.
- Plastic-free Food. Toffee Apples are traditional and seasonal, ideal for eating around a fire or as party prizes (here’s a recipe from Pink Lady Apples). Pick your own, or seek out plastic-free apples at the shops. For cooking ingredients an invaluable online resource is Plastic Free Pantry which dispatches good things in brown paper bags, from its base in Nottingham.
- Make a Jam-Jar Lantern. We collect and wash old jam jars. We decorate the outside with coloured tissue paper and black card shapes of bats, owls and the like (glued on), and securely tie a carrying string around the rim. Then put in a tea-light, be sure to stand the wick up, and light with long matches (tip the jar sideways to light). Children old and young love carrying them to a story in the dusk.
- Rather than carving a pumpkin go authentic and make it a ‘Jack-o-Lantern’ made from British root veg (pumpkins are American). Be careful with sharp knives though. See entries for Fairyland Trust’s Veg-o-Lantern competition here. People use marrows, big carrots, sugar beet, giant swedes, potatoes and turnips. Add features with small veg and wooden cocktail sticks and a space for a tea-light. (Avoid at all costs carve-able Styrofoam pumpkins !)
Sugar Beet Lantern Owls
- Tell halloween stories round a bonfire. Be careful to move the sticks first though to check for hedgehogs and be safe. Don’t burn plastic – it gives off nasty fumes.
- Lay out Treats for the magical folk. Ancient tradition has it that Halloween is the moment when the ‘veil is thin’ and faeries, elves and what-not can get through into the human world, where if they aren’t given treats, they may play tricks (such as spilling the milk). Make a Fairy Banquet in your garden: collect and lay out leaves, nuts, seeds and berries and wait quietly. In the morning the feast may be gone. Magical creatures dislike plastic.
- Make your own Witches Broomstick or ‘Besom Broom’. Birch is the best tree for flying. Cut a handle that reaches about wait high. Cut straightish twigs. Bundle the twigs into the sweeping end and secure tightly with strong string. (Adults can make longer lasting besoms and there are lots of how-to’s online)
- Dress Up Plastic Free, or at least no new plastic! Avoid shop costumes which are 90% plastic and hit the charity shops or dive into your wardrobe to find tweeds, wool, leather and other natural fibres to create a great #plasticfree Halloween look. A good hat with some feathers, and spray of autumn leaves can top it off. (We also think it’s also better to re-use old plastic like fake fur or old children’s costumes than throw it away as recycling plastic usually doesn’t stop it creating pollution). Download sew-your-own-costume instructions from the group Hubbub.
- Shimmer without glitter. All cheap glitter is micro-plastic, and lots called ‘biodegradable’ isn’t really but a safe bet is to use skin lustre from Lush (pink, silver, gold and other colours) as is artificial mica.
- Make your own Halloween Owl from natural ingredients such as a pine cone, feathers, felt and coloured sand, like the ones we make for the Fairyland Trust
- Maybe easiest of all, attend a plastic free Halloween Day Out. Ours is The Real Halloween 27 and 28 October in Norfolk.
Our tips have also appeared in edited form at this post on the Country Living website.