Forget abandoned houses and graveyards after midnight — if you want to go somewhere genuinely haunted for Halloween, try the local landfill. From plastic decorations to packaging waste to single-use costumes, this spooktacular season can leave the environment holding a wasteful bag of only tricks, no treats. And really, who wants to egg and toilet paper the planet?
Fortunately, with a few — shall we say, magical — changes, you can enjoy an eco-friendly Halloween that’s good for the planet and a howl for you and your family. Black cats, cauldrons, and skin-wrapped books of spells are entirely optional. After all, nobody here wants to spoil your Halloween fun — whether dressing up as your favorite ghoul or screaming through your favorite scary movie. And a few responsible choices can ensure your celebration doesn’t cast a spell that lingers in landfills, waterways, and even the oceans for years or decades. Ready? Then, let’s consider these terrifyingly simple ways to enjoy an eco-friendly Halloween.
It’s almost as easy as waving a wand — no wizarding lessons required.
Opt for sweet and sustainable
Candy is a Halloween mainstay, and nobody would suggest you hold off on the sweets — or offer tasteless “healthy” alternatives. That would be an act of pure evil. But you can be responsible when it comes time to parse out your packages of delicious goodness. First, look for certified fair trade or organic candies since they carry less environmental and social impact. Another quick tip? Buy your candy in bulk. This reduces packaging waste. Just bring your reusable shopping tote to a bulk food store and load up.
Choose eco-friendly costumes
Every year brings its own costume trends — and 2023 will be no exception, with legions of Barbies, Kens, Wednesdays, and Marios out in force. (Also, in the continuing spirit of “Barbenheimer” don’t be surprised to see the odd J. Robert Oppenheimer appear in the most DIY costume imaginable, since it only requires a fedora, blazer, white button-up shirt, and black necktie.) But instead of purchasing a new outfit, get creative and make your own with items you already have at home. Reuse old clothing and accessories. You can also search thrift stores for affordable second-hand costumes and accessories — reducing the demand for new, mass-produced outfits — or organize a costume swap with friends or neighbors. Maybe that perfect Oppenheimer fedora is as close as an attic next door.
Frightful, imaginative décor is essential to any memorable Halloween, but that doesn’t mean your imagination is limited to wasteful single-use plastic trinkets. Opt for reusable decorations made from durable materials like wood, metal, or fabric, which can be used year after year. Instead of plastic, make your decorations from recycled or recyclable materials like paper. Lastly, incorporate natural elements like pumpkins, gourds, and fall leaves into your decor. Afterward, they can be easily composted or recycled.
What would Halloween be without Jack-O’-Lanterns lining streets, fences, and stairways? You can happily carve sustainably by saving pumpkin seeds (perfect for roasting), composting the pumpkin scraps rather than discarding them into the trash, and opting for reusable, durable pumpkin carving tools that can be used year after year.
Light it up efficiently
Atmospheric lighting is crucial to any Halloween celebration, but you can minimize consumption by using energy-efficient LED lights, which last longer than traditional bulbs, or even investing in solar-powered outdoor lights for your yard and pathways. They charge during the day and illuminate your scary setup at night without electricity.
Trick or treat mindfully
Why would anyone want to play a trick on Mother Nature? Use reusable cloth bags or baskets to collect candy for a more eco-conscious Halloween rather than single-use plastic. And ensure the pint-sized ghouls, goblins, and ghosts you’re guiding from door to door are mindful of the environment around them. That means avoiding littering and picking up any trash you come across left behind by less thoughtful tricksters.
Walk or carpool
Whether you’re out trick-or-treating and terrorizing different neighborhoods — or on your way to a party — consider walking or carpooling with friends and neighbors to reduce your carbon footprint. Not only will it lower emissions, but it will stir your Halloween spirit.
Cut back on food waste
Nothing tickles the darkness in your soul like the sight of pumpkins glowering in the night. But what happens to them the day after Halloween? Instead of tossing them into the trash, consider donating them to a local food bank or cooking with the pumpkin flesh yourself. (And as we said above, pumpkin scraps make great compost.) The same applies to keeping any non-pumpkin dishes from going to waste, whether it’s by ensuring partygoers return home with loads of leftovers or repurposing the goodies yourself.
Remember to recycle and reuse
Halloween brings plenty of waste, from candy wrappers to party supplies. To minimize your impact, instruct your children (and unaware adults) about recycling by maintaining separate bins for recyclables at your Halloween gathering. Use reusable plates, cups, and utensils instead of disposable ones. And separate recyclables from non-recyclables, getting rid of them according to your local guidelines.
Clean up with eco-friendly products
Of course, with Halloween, you always expect a mess in the aftermath — hopefully, not from blood, entrails, or melted flesh. And enjoying a sustainable Halloween is all about being aware of your impact from start to finish. So, if you’ve used reusable tablecloths, napkins, dishware, and cutlery for your gatherings, grab some plant-based, laundry detergent sheets. Packaged with zero plastics, SaltyLama’s sheets are hypoallergenic and perfect for people with allergies or sensitive skin. Best of all: no spills, no messes, and no more guesswork deciding how much detergent to use.
Remember, by making eco-conscious choices with your decorations, costumes, candies, and parties, you don’t have to curse the planet with unwanted waste after your Halloween has come to its bone-chilling conclusion. Setting an example for children and adults alike can make Halloween a little greener — but no less terrifying.