Nik Mitchell: Have a happy Halloween – without the plastic and waste

Nik gets ready for Halloween

Thanet nature expert Nik Mitchell, from Minster, is hoping to persuade people to reduce their plastic usage when they celebrate Halloween this month.

Nik, 37, who runs the Wildlife Conservation in Thanet page on facebook, has come up with the great guide for having fun and helping the environment.

Halloween goes all the way back to a pagan festival called Samhain but nowadays is mostly about plastic, sugar, walking the streets at night and deliberately scaring small children. Even scarier than ghosts is the use of plastic at Halloween – hidden in our synthetic costumes, masks, wigs, sweet wrappers, decorations, glitter and so on.

This year Halloween will be a little different with kids taking part in “The Thanet Pumpkin Trail” so here are some ideas to help you try and reduce your plastic use while still having fun:

Keep the house decorations minimal. Use string to create an authentic looking spider web or a creepy dream catcher. Cut out bat shapes from recycled paper and hang them on natural string. Play spooky music – it really sets the atmosphere and creates zero waste.

Think about what “treats” you hand out to kids. There are some fantastic and useful things you can hand out besides sweets (the parents will thank you). Ideas include foil-wrapped chocolates, paper-wrapped treats, loose treats, toffee apple seed packets, stick-on tattoos, chocolate coins, stationary, fat balls to put out for birds, loose change, boxes of raisins or, a personal favourite of mine, chocolate coated brussel sprouts!

Fancy dress Halloween looks can be created by simply using face-paints or make-up, check out YouTube tutorials. Shimmer without glitter (glitter contains micro-plastic and some which claim to be ‘biodegradable’ actually aren’t). Rather than buying a new plastic-based costume from the shop, get inventive and make one yourself, give your money to a good cause by heading to a charity shop to find fancy dress.

Pumpkins. Nothing screams Halloween more than a carved pumpkin but this iconic Halloween tradition is generating horrifying waste – 8 million pumpkins will be binned in the UK alone after Halloween, with only one- third of those who buy pumpkins to carve using the edible leftovers.

Why not, instead, make a jam jar lantern? Collect and wash old jars and decorate the outside with coloured tissue paper.


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