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Green Scream | The companies changing the face of Halloween this year

Tue 26 Oct 2021 | 06:09 pm GMT
Rob Hutchins | Products of Change Writer

The changing face of Halloween

Amscan, Morrisons, and other names in the business of fancy dress costumes have been brushing up on their Mary Shelley novels this year to flip the switch and re-animate an annual tradition notorious for its plastic waste and deliver a Halloween that will have consumers ‘scream green.’ A precursor to the festive season, Halloween brings with it socialising, tricking, treating, and of course, plenty of dressing up. But while this year sees Halloween tipped to top the £400 million spent by Brits on the occasion back in 2019, the spooking season also has a few horror stories of its own to lay to rest. Recent reports have revealed that throwaway Halloween costumes generate more than 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste each year. An investigation undertaken by Fairyland Trust and supported by Hubbub back in 2019 found that 83 per cent of material in some 324 items of clothing promoted by online retailers was oil-based plastic. With an average of more than 30 million people dressing up for Halloween each year, and some seven million Halloween costumes being thrown away annually in the UK alone, plastic waste and climate change have become the underrepresented ghouls of the spooking season. But the pendulum (or should that be axe?) could just be starting to swing the other way. Retailers and manufacturers are now starting to recognise the silent issue that surrounds Halloween and adjust their businesses accordingly, while increasingly climate conscious consumers are starting to shop better for their ghostly get ups. And it turns out that Shelley’s Dr Frankenstein was on the right lines, after all. OK, recycling human body parts could be taking sustainability to the extreme (actually, I’m told that POC opposes the reanimation of human corpses, vehemently) but recycling plastic waste to create a new era of green monsters is widely encouraged. And indeed, it’s a practice that is growing in popularity. The leading party and dress up specialist, Amscan, for instance, is seeing sales across its range of 100 per cent sustainable costumes grow ever stronger. Produced from plastic waste and waste materials, its collection – featuring a mystical witch and a neon skeleton – is made entirely of 100 per cent recycled content fabric.
Amscan's Halloween costume range is 100 per cent made from recycled materials.
Not only that, but the packaging has also been overhauled to be made from material suitable to recycle after use, with the added functionality of becoming part of the play experience itself. “You can turn the packaging sleeve inside out to create your very own trick-or-treat bag,” Amscan tells Products of Change. “And we are sure this new sustainable range will be a hit for the season, with key national retailers selecting these lines for their portfolio to help us all Scream Green this Halloween.” Among the UK’s key retailers, the supermarket giant, Morrisons has been quick to answer the call for a greener Halloween this year, having introduced its own collection of fully reusable costumes made from 100 per cent responsibly sourced materials just this month. Lauded as a supermarket first, the retailer lifted the lid on a new collection that, for the first time ever, arrives machine washable to ‘enable consumers to reuse and pass on to others.’ It's a move, says Morrisons, that will ‘eliminate the need for single-use purchases.’ Doubling up on its efforts, the supermarket has also removed all plastic hangers from the range and replaced them with cardboard versions. The activity, it suggests, has all been in response to the demands of the more discerning trick or treater this year.
Morrisons has moved quickly to bring in a range of sustainable Halloween outfits for spooking season this year
“Listening to customers, we know that while they love Halloween and the theatre that comes with dressing up, making the event more sustainable is really important to them,” said Jodie Glew, buying manager at Morrisons. “We have worked hard with out team this year to create a range that is not only made using 100 per cent responsibly sourced materials, but can also be machine washed – cutting down on waste and encouraging re-use year after year.” And reuse appears to be the operative word of this Halloween. Retailer Marks & Spencer is, too, promoting its dressing up wares as a reusable line, suggesting that consumers consider choosing Halloween kids’ clothing and accessories that ‘add a bit of supernatural style to their regular wardrobe,’ in a call out to parents that Halloween outfits can easily be incorporated in a child’s leisure wear when shopped right. “Scary accessories are a good option for kids who are shy about going full-on frightening,” it states in its Halloween Dress Up blog post. “A simple pair of cat ears or an animal mask will make for a stylish nod to the Halloween season and can be incorporated easily into their day-to-day look.” Outside of parting with money for Halloween costume inspiration this year, the British multinational packaging business, DS Smith is prompting British families to make use of the some 135 million cardboard boxes stowed in homes across the country this year. The firm has today issued its DS Smith Cardstumes Halloween Guide to offer parents and families tips to build creative costumes with materials found around the house – all of which can be recycled after the event. Tim Price, divisional communications director at DS Smith, said: “With more than 135 million cardboard boxes stowed in homes across the country, it’s about time we had a little fun with them. At DS Smith, we’re always on the lookout for ways to reduce plastic use and we’re excited to share our easy to follow guides to help families reuse cardboard boxes at home. “Our cardstumes not only look great, they also help in the effort to reduce the amount of hard to recycle material used – and the subsequent waste – while providing a fun and educational activity for children on the importance of reuse and recycling.” The firm’s Cardstumes initiative is now the focus of a campaign to encourage consumers to share their own cardboard creations this Halloween across social media. For Halloween pranksters looking for a paper and cardboard option more closely aligned with real political causes, however, may care to take a glance at the British design studio, Wintercroft. With the mantra of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle close to its heart, Wintercroft acts by supplying digital templates to its customers who are then encouraged to build the masks for themselves using cardboard.
British design studio, Wintercroft is changing the face of Halloween masks for good.
“By supplying the templates digitally and enabling people to build the masks themselves, there is no energy wasted on manufacturing or shipping,” says Steve Wintercroft in a blog post on the company’s website. “The masks are intended to be built from discarded, reused, or recycled card. For example, old cereal boxes are ideal. When you have finished with your mask, you can strip the tape off and throw it in with the recycling.” And what’s more, as of September this year, Wintercroft has joined a campaign in partnership with Lush and Animal Aid to place a ban on snares being used in animal hunting and trapping. The petition is open for signatures until November 4th this year. We warned you that Halloween was taking on a new look this year.
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