Tons of plastic waste from ghoulish costumes is a scary Halloween story!

PUBLISHED: 22:00 20 October 2019 | UPDATED: 22:00 20 October 2019

Sue Bayliss says it makes sense to use charity shops or second hand clothes to make Halloween outfits rather than spending money on plastic items that will be soon thrown away

Sue Bayliss says it makes sense to use charity shops or second hand clothes to make Halloween outfits rather than spending money on plastic items that will be soon thrown away

Evgeny Atamanenko

Eco-blogger Sue Bayliss warns that Halloween fun could end up having a damaging impact on the planet

I may seem like a spoilsport but I read with horror that the UK's biggest retailers have sold Halloween costumes containing enough plastic to form 83 million plastic bottles. Two charities, Hubbub and the Fairyland Trust investigated and discovered that 83% of material in the costumes sold for Halloween 'fun' is made from oil-based plastic. 69% of all materials were found to be polyester. The result of all this will be another 2,000 tons of plastic waste - unnecessary plastic waste. How many birds and sea creatures will pay the price of Halloween enjoyment when the plastic ends up in 
our oceans as some of it surely will?

I was faced with the problem of sourcing Halloween costumes as my grandchildren and I are going to the Real Halloween in Bradmoor Woods on Saturday October 26 - details on their website:

Trying to find something suitable was not easy but I found something on eBay in the end. Of course, making your own costumes is the best plan but not everyone is able to do that. Sewing was never my thing!

Buying second hand clothes is a good thing as it prevents them adding to the tons of clothes thrown away. Norwich has many good charity shops that cater for all tastes and sizes. Getting a bargain is always a boost to the mood and you can feel virtuous for rescuing a pre-loved item. Why not get together with your friends and bring along the clothes you no longer want to wear? Make an evening of it or bring your kids and see what is on offer for them. Children grow so quickly so handing on clothes to others is vital and saves a lot of money too! My son was lucky to have a number of family members who provided lovely clothes for him to wear as he grew.

Here are some very sad facts about how much perfectly good clothing is thrown away in the bin rather than given to charity shops or friends.

Britons binned clothes worth £12.5 billion last year as the rise of "throwaway" fashion led to 300,000 tonnes of textiles ending up in landfill.

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On average each person put eight items in the bin, meaning that every household wasted clothes with a purchase value of almost £500, research found. The problem is greatest in spring as people update their wardrobes for warmer weather.

More than half of those surveyed admitted throwing away perfectly wearable garments, rather than salvaging them for future use or donating them to friends, family or charity shops.

One in 10 said they threw away clothes after a few wears because they were cheap to buy and one in twenty admitted ditching unused items because they could not be bothered to return them to the retailer."(The Times).

We've come a very long way from the make do and mend philosophy of my parents' generation. Let's think more carefully before we buy clothing to lift our mood or conform with how we think we should look. The last wedding I went to I bought a fantastic blue broad brimmed hat for £5.00 from the PACT charity shop in Norwich and wore it with a summer dress I already owned. The hat made the outfit look truly stylish and all for a fiver!

I remember going to an Institute of Directors ball many years ago (my father was deputy chairman at the time - it's not my usual haunt!) and laughing loudly with another guest after we both quietly admitted to wearing second hand dresses. Mine was a 50s black velvet evening dress which I'd found in a vintage shop. But we should be shouting from the roof tops that we are wearing second hand clothes so that others follow our lead rather than feeling it was not quite the thing!

Let's not forget that the creation of clothing damages the environment and human health. An article by Elizabeth DeHaan on the EcoGuide ( points out the negative impacts.

"Not only does Fast Fashion create harmful environmental effects through the use of fabrics, it also is destroying the environment through the use of dyes. Apparel is responsible for a whopping 20% of fresh water pollution. These dyes are not only harmful to people and wildlife but they are harmful to the environment. In the factories themselves, the workers are exposed to harmful chemicals. These chemicals include toxic phthalates and amines used in particular dyes. Chemicals like these, have been known to disrupt hormones and have been linked to miscarriages in women, birth defects, and cancer."

Lately even the 'shopping queen', Mary Portas has turned away from 'fast fashion' and 
is advocating buying fewer clothes and using charity 

I hope you enjoy your Halloween celebrations with a real rather than plastic pumpkin. If you hollow it out to make a spooky lantern, remember that the inside will make an excellent soup. And when those trick and treating kids come around, please resist the temptation to give them sweets in plastic wrappings which are not healthy. Offer them an apple or a few nuts. Personally I think holding people to ransom with the offer of playing a trick on them if they don't come up with something is not teaching our kids how to be empathic and kind. How about the kids offering to help their neighbours in return for a treat? I'm 
looking forward to the story of the Real Halloween that will be told at Bradmoor Woods next Saturday followed by a lantern parade and gathering around a fire. Happy Halloween!

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