Two eco-minded British charities, Hubbub and the Fairyland Trust, have revealed that Halloween generates mounds of plastic waste equal in weight to millions of plastic bottles. Besides food and costume packaging and masks and accessories, plastic lurks in the costumes, which are often made from fabrics like polyester, nylon, acrylic and other synthetic fibers.

After polling 19 prominent British retailers, Hubbub and the Fairyland Trust found that more than 2,000 metric tons of plastic waste are generated from Halloween clothing and costumes alone. That’s because 83 percent of the materials in costume pieces were made from non-biodegradable, oil-based plastic — the same trash accumulating in both landfills and oceans and equivalent to the weight of 83 million plastic bottles. 

Related: How to have a plastic-free Halloween

Hubbub Chief Executive Trewin Restorick warned, “These findings are horrifying. However, the total plastic waste footprint of Halloween will be even higher once you take into account other Halloween plastic such as party kits and decorations, much of which are also plastic, or food packaging.”

Synthetic plastic fibers are cheap and extremely versatile — able to stretch and breathe while providing warmth and durability — thus making them highly desirable as costume materials. Unfortunately, these plastic-based fabrics and their consequential microfibers leach into the environment, whether through laundry water or refuse disposal, further exacerbating the plastic pollution crisis.

Additionally, the study found that about 7 million costumes are tossed annually in Britain. This pales in comparison to the National Retail Federation’s findings that in the United States, more than 175 million people celebrate the spooky holiday each year, with 68 percent of those people purchasing Halloween costumes. Many of these costumes will quickly find their way in the garbage can before the next Halloween.

Both Hubbub and the Fairyland Trust are calling for manufacturers and retailers to rethink Halloween product ranges to go beyond single-use, synthetic garments. Similarly, the charities want industry-wide labels to indicate that textiles like polyester are plastic. Doing so would educate the public on these plastic-based fabrics, informing them that these clothing materials are a significant part of the plastic pollution ravaging our planet. The charities hope that manufacturers, retailers and consumers seek non-plastic alternatives.

Both Hubbub and the Fairyland Trust encourage Halloween celebrants to go plastic-free and shift toward a more environmentally sustainable and circular model for the holiday industry.

Via The Guardian

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