Zero Waste Halloween: 5 Ways to Be Sustainable and Skip the Trash

Updated: Jan 5



Written by Sarah Robertson-Barnes for The Zero Waste Collective.


Halloween is a fun, spooky, and let’s face it, trashy time of year. From costumes to candy, the amount of waste created at Halloween every year is truly terrifying. Fear not! Here are 5 ways you can get in the spirit of a low waste Halloween.


1. Choose Natural Decor


Autumn provides a bounty of natural items for decorating our homes from Halloween to Thanksgiving. Choose compostable decor such as pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks, straw, and fall leaves. Consider organic pie pumpkins and gourds that you can also eat. If you do carve a traditional pumpkin, be sure to roast the seeds!


2. Rock a Secondhand Costume

Anything you might need to transform yourself on the big night has probably already been made and might just be within your reach and budget.

  • Use what you have. Shop your closet for pieces and accessories. Better yet, wear last year’s costume.

  • Shop secondhand. Find items for your look or even stumble on the perfect preloved costume. Branch out from thrift shops and take a look online on Facebook “Buy Nothing” groups, FreeCycle, Craigslist, or trade on Bunz.

  • Make your own. Handy with a needle or a wizard with found items? Create a unique costume that can be used well into the future.

  • Swap. Ask friends and relatives, or start a costume swap at your school.


3. Rethink Trick-or-Treating

If you have children in your life, avoiding Halloween trash altogether may not be an option. That’s okay! Minimize the trash of trick-or-treating with a few simple tips:

  • Use a cloth bag or pillowcase instead of a themed plastic container.

  • Map your route and limit the number of houses visited.

  • Have kids choose foil or paper wrappers if possible. Look into take back recycling programs such as Terracycle in Canada and the US for the rest.

  • Skip going door to door altogether and host a party with friends with kids filling containers with bulk candy. Watch a scary movie if you dare!


4. Hand Out Alternative Treats

Halloween candy is a huge source of single-use plastic. Finding a useful and sustainable alternative can be tricky, but options are becoming more mainstream as awareness grows.

  • Handing out candy? Be mindful of both the packaging materials (foil and cardboard are best) and the practices of the manufacturer.

  • Reduce! Opt for giving out one item per child.

  • Alternatives to candy include pencils and erasers, crayons, temporary tattoos, coins, boxed raisins, craft supplies, magic tricks, or homemade slime.


5. Party Like a Ghost

Whether you are hosting or attending a get together, leave no trace of waste behind. If the celebration is at your place, check out these tips for hosting a zero waste party. Haunting somewhere else? Bring your own containers for drinks and food, and offer to be in charge of waste diversion to sort into compost and recycling.


With a little creativity and some planning, a low waste Halloween is right around the corner! For a deeper dive on all things Zero Waste Halloween, click here.

About the Founder

Hi! I'm Tara McKenna, Founder of The Zero Waste Collective. Based in Canada, I have created this community as a hub for all things zero waste! Take a look around, and join this global conversation. You can also follow my zero waste journey on Instagram at @mindfully.tara. Thanks for stopping by!

 

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