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The scariest thing about Halloween? The plastic waste

For weeks, the shops have been filled with the frightening, the creepy and the strange.

But the scariest thing about Halloween? For environmental campaigners here in the Midlands, it's the amount of waste.

Halloween masks on display.

Research by environmental organisation Hubbub and charity The Fairyland Trust found that 83% of costumes are, fully or partly, made of polyester - a kind of plastic.

And with around seven million costumes binned every year after Halloween is over, the environmental consequences are huge.

“Online retailers and supermarkets are really easy places to get these costumes but they’re only really designed to be used once,” Hubbub’s Sarah Divall said.

“And they’re often made of polyester - so 83% of these costumes are made of polyester which is a plastic, and I don’t think people realise when they’re buying it that they’re probably only going to use once and then put it in the bin.

"It's essentially another kind of single-use plastic."

Seven million costumes are thrown away each year.

The study looked at 19 different high street and online retailers.

They calculated that the number of costumes thrown away each year amounts to 2,079 tonnes of plastic - the equivalent of around 83 million plastic drinks bottles.

7m
costumes thrown away every year
2,079
tonnes of plastic
83m
plastic drinks bottles equivalent

And costumes aren’t the only problem. A lot of toys, accessories and decorations don’t last long.

Toys and accessories are another issue.

Now, campaigners are urging people to get spooky - in a more sustainable way.

Angie Kijak opened her plastic-free store EcoWulf in Wolverhampton just two months ago.

And she says she’s been hand-making costumes for her, and her two children, for years.

“I’ve made all sorts - I’ve got a spider, a pumpkin, I’ve got parrot wings I made myself,” she said.

One year, she even dressed her son Dougie up as Chucky - which required little more than dungarees and some face paint.

“It’s just more fun," she added.

"You’ve got the enjoyment of making it with your children, get them involved, that prolongs a bit of the fun. And also you’ve got something a bit different to what you can get in Asda or Sainsbury’s.”

Angie dressed her son Dougie up as Chucky one year - which required little more than dungarees and some face paint. Credit: Angie Kijak

People are also urged to make full use of their pumpkins, by looking up easy recipes to cook with the squash instead of simply throwing it away once the carving fun is over.

Hubbub found that some 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin that ends up in the bin each year - enough to make approximately 360 million portions of pumpkin pie.

They've now launched their Pumpkin Rescue campaign to encourage people to prolong the enjoyment of the day, without adding to the growing mountains of waste.

“We don’t want to be a killjoy at Halloween,” Sarah added.

“We’re not saying that you shouldn’t do exactly what you want to do and have a really good time, but there are just a few changes you can do so you can still have fun and still be really sustainable.”

This year, Dougie's going as a spider.