It is scary how much waste is created during Halloween. Last year, half of the UK’s 24m Halloween pumpkins ended up as food waste. Cheap, throwaway Halloween costumes produced the equivalent of 83m plastic bottles in 2019. So it’s great to see these small UK businesses making the most out of scraps and existing materials to create some truly spooky items.
Read on, if you dare!
Tell us about Rhifurb!
“Rhifurb only uses old clothing and waste textiles, trying to give them a new lease of life by keeping them out of landfill. I made the pumpkins to try and combat the ever-growing pile of offcuts in my workspace. I run a zero waste company so I have to find a use for every scrap of cotton. I cut the offcuts up really small and they make amazing filling. I also make rag wreaths and had small lengths of wire left over from those, so making posable, wired leaves, stalks and vines for the pumpkins was a no-brainer.”
Who are the Witchie Woos?
“Alongside the pumpkins I've also created a small coven of witches - the Witchie Woos - again made entirely from material saved from landfill and stuffed with offcuts.”
What inspired you to start creating Halloween themed scrunchies?
“I didn’t want the fabric to go to waste! So many offcuts of fabric are thrown away every year but most of them are a big enough size to make scrunchies with. A simple but well recognised fashion staple. The fabric itself is beautiful and I didn’t want it to be thrown away.”
The fabric is truly lovely! So, what does upcycling mean to you?
“Upcycling and zero waste to me means trying to make something (anything!) out of very small scraps, the kind thrown out the most from fashion projects. It also means helping the environment and our planet which is such a huge huge part of our lives.”
Tell us how you started DreadSkinsStudio?
“DreadSkinsStudio happened by accident. It was a combination of things that happened at once. I have been dealing in old sheepskin and leather jackets for a number of years and was beginning to get a stockpile of damaged ones.
“At the same time I got a bee in my bonnet about making fleshy things out of latex. To this day I don't know where that idea came from.
“I then just happened to find myself mutilating teddy bears and dolls. As you do.
Before I knew it there was an Etsy shop, Facebook and Instagram pages and an introduction to festival selling with the wonderful Road To Ruin.”
What does upcycling mean to you?
“Upcycling? In my dictionary it meant low cost. I am fundamentally as mean and penny pinching as can be so it started with buying very cheap army surplus, recycling the old leather coats that I already had and scouring the local car boot sales for clothes.
“I'm now drifting towards making my own 'clothes' from old materials and also new seconds and reject fabric. I've recently been taking sewing machine lessons and, needless to say, have already bought a secondhand sewing machine and an overlocker.
“I have recently started dealing in antiques again. The ultimate in recycling. Again, not something I had planned to do but Covid all but killed my main business in greetings cards. This has also taken off so I am now juggling my time between the two ventures. Just don't ask about the glorious mahogany sideboard I bought for £5 as this has been a right old challenge this weekend.
I'd like to paint furniture again at some point. I was doing this in the late 1980s - yes I really am that old!”
How did DizzyWix come about?
“DizzyWix started when I was furloughed and then subsequently made redundant from my full-time career as a flight attendant. The airline industry, like so many others, took a very unfortunate hit as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With a lot of spare time on my hands, I initially took up candlemaking as a hobby, realising I had quite an abundance of quirky beer cans collected from around the world over the years! I love the fact that upcycling used cans, bottles and tins into candles gives them a new lease of life, and many never have to be thrown away after they're finished as they can be refilled again and again!
“With that in mind I have a strong focus on sustainability, from the naturally sourced soy wax I use, to cardboard packaging, and to paraben-free fragrance oils never tested on animals. This means all of my products are, and will continue to remain, vegan-friendly.
What's your inspiration for this autumn season?
“It's also a busy time of year for me as my products feature some of my most popular seasonal scents - Baked Apple Pie, Nutmeg & Ginger, Autumn Leaves, Pumpkin Pecan Pie, and Winter Spice, to name a few!
“After the year we've all had with so many restrictions and setbacks, we're all finding new ways to brighten up the home, and what better way to do so on these cold autumn nights than with a warming scented candle?”
Tell us about your store, how long have you been making & selling on Etsy?
"I’ve had my Etsy store since 2016 selling odd bits to family/friends. I started out just with art work and the odd Christmas card using recycled paper. I branched out into textiles in 2019 after coming home from my travels and settling down. I’ve always had a passion for the environment and wanted to mix my crafts and the environment together in a project."
What was it that inspired you to make eco trick and treat bags?
"I was inspired to make trick or treat bags because of the amount of plastic waste I see in the shops. I don’t feel like people save items for each year so wanted to make a recycled alternative that could be used more than once, creating an eco friendly, recycle, reduce and reuse ethos product."
What does upcycling and zero waste mean to you?
"I started thinking about upcycling when I had a pile of clothes that were not good enough for the charity shop or homeless shelters. I hate throwing things away knowing it’s going to landfill. I researched how to use scrap fabrics and the ideas grew from there. Through networking on small business pages I met some great makers doing the same, since then we have built up a community and we do regular meets where we swap textiles and bags of old scraps we have collected from family, friends and businesses."
What do you enjoy most about upcycling?
"I enjoy upcycling because there is a sense of pride turning something from scraps into a beautiful product. For me though the best part is knowing that I’ve done my bit to help save existing textiles from going to landfill, used all scraps for stuffing to keep to my zero waste ethos and when an item sells, I donate 10% to charity. It’s a small step in this big world but I feel better knowing I’m doing something to try and help the environmental crisis we are living in."
“We only have one planet and I feel more is needed to reduce the buying culture we have become. Recycling plastic is just not enough. I hope to help raise awareness of this so others can think about buying more from businesses that upcycle/recycle or even your local charity shop. Using products and materials already available to us rather than supporting the culture of making more”.