Tips for a more sustainable Halloween



Halloween is my favorite holiday, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Unfortunately, spooky season is full of disposable decorations, trash, and wrappers. Cheap costumes and individually wrapped candy make mountains of plastic waste that will haunt the landfills for eternity. But there’s no reason to be afraid of durability. From reducing litter left behind to not creating litter, here are a bunch of ways to make your Halloween more eco-friendly!


Of the two billion pounds of pumpkins grown for Halloween each yeararound 1.3 billion pounds will be thrown away. How to stop this? Not buying a pumpkin in the first place is a good start.

Moving around, decorating orange paper lanterns can be a cheap and eco-friendly alternative to foam carving pumpkins. There are also a wide variety of ways to decorate them, including markers, stickers, die-cut outlines, adding lights, and more. You can also decorate orange peels with a marker and then eat it.

If you get a pumpkin, roast the seeds as a tasty treat, seek advice to prevent them from rotting so quicklyand “recycle” the pumpkin when you’re done (here’s a couple of articles on how to do it). ‘Smashed Pumpkin Events can also handle composting for those who don’t have the ability to do it themselves.

Make your own sets and costumes from recyclable materials

Reusing materials is almost always better than buying new materials in terms of durability, especially if you don’t have the space to store them for future use. Whether to do tombstones made of non-recyclable cardboard or foam or using old stockings to make cobwebsthere are lots of things you can do.

Save your costume or buy it used

screenshot of ThredUP's Halloween page where people can create outfits to fit a certain
Via thredUP

I love Spirit Halloween and Hot Topic as much as anyone else, but fast fashion isn’t eco-friendly (frankly the oversaturation of “sexy” halloween costumes must stop). It helps that for the price of a costume from these stores, you can find used pieces at places like thredUP or your local vintage/thrift stores that you may be able to repurpose into your everyday clothing. I received some nice leather boots from ThredUp which I wear without my Captain Carter costume.

Even better, you can go into your closet and use clothes you never wear to make a costume. Do you have old-fashioned outfits? Be a fashion zombie! Bridesmaid dress you wore once? Turn it into Miss “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”. Graduation dress? Become a magician or a ghost of student debt! The possibilities are limitless!

Buy local/vegan/fair trade sweets

Buying candy from local stores is a great way to 1) support local businesses and 2) reduce the transportation associated with brand name candy. It also gives you the opportunity to discover local sweets like maple candies, salt water taffy or Abba-Zabas. Here is some articles if you want more inspiration.

Alternatively, you can distribute vegan sweets that does not use products of animal origin or fair trade chocolate. Equal exchange is best for mini chocolate bars and UnReal Makes Gluten/Corn/Soy-Free Candy for Those Who Want to Consider Allergies.

If you can’t fit them into your budget, getting candies in paper boxes like Dots, Nerds, Milk Duds and Junior Mints reduces single-use plastic packaging.

Plus, if you plan to get out of your neighborhood for Tick-r-Treat, carpooling, biking, or taking public transit can reduce emissions.

Halloween is the second biggest holiday for American spending. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it in a way that’s also good for the planet! If there’s one holiday that encourages both creativity and celebration of the natural world, it’s Halloween.

(featured image: Dean K. Terasaki)

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