Zero Waste Halloween Ideas

These simple Zero Waste Halloween ideas make for the perfect celebration: from easy treats, to fruit decorations, secondhand costumes, and more! No need to create a bloodcurdling amount of waste this year.

— Permacrafters gets commissions for purchases made through links in this post. We encourage you to prioritize secondhand goods whenever possible. —

Oh, the Horrors of Halloween! Your dog is scared stiff of Banana Man and your kids are afraid of creepy clowns. But Halloween is a celebration that’s especially terrifying for – you guessed it – the environment. Candy wrappers, synthetic costumes, cheap plastic decorations, and mounds of uneaten pumpkins get sent straight to the dump just days after the celebration ends.

How can you have a Halloween celebration that takes into account the environment without being a party pooper? I’ve got you covered.

Here’s are some promising Zero Waste Halloween ideas:

1. Zero Waste Halloween Ideas | Halloween Treats

For the safety of Trick-or-Treaters, it makes perfect sense for Halloween treats to be wrapped. However, candy doesn’t have to be wrapped in plastic that will eventually sit in a dump or pollute the waterways.

Aluminum-wrapped candy like Hershey’s kisses or cardboard-wrapped candy like Whoppers or Nerds are better options that can at the very least be recycled. But if you refuse to send kids into sugar-shock, there are alternatives, too.

You can give kids coins, secondhand animal figurines from a thrift shop, or recyclable gifts like coloring books or pencils. Or you could simply hand out mandarins and apples and be that healthy family that trick-or-treaters aren’t so excited about, but that parents will hopefully appreciate.

2. Zero Waste Halloween Ideas | DIY Bag

If your kids are going out Trick-or-Treating and want a brand new plastic Halloween pail to collect candy, consider upcycling an old orange T-shirt to make a Zero Waste Halloween DIY bag instead. I made my own Halloween bag this year using a secondhand shirt from The Scrap Exchange and with instructions provided by Crochet Jewel.

3. Zero Waste Halloween Ideas | Costume Ideas

Cheap synthetic Halloween costumes often just get worn once and sent right to the landfill. It’s all the more wasteful considering that the textile and apparel industry account for 10% of global carbon emissions. Not worth it.

The good news is, you can still partake in the Halloween costume fun without the waste. Like Lauren, from Trash is for Tossers suggests, you can make your own costume by getting creative with the clothes and accessories you already own. You could also rent a costume.

Or you can look for secondhand options by either swapping with a friend or going to your local thrift store to find a costume. In fact, that’s what I did this year: The Scrap Exchange in Durham had some cute options, like a Ghost Busters outfit and a Clubs soldier outfit from Alice in Wonderland.

And you know… you could also just wear last year’s costume. *Gasp*

4. Zero Waste Halloween Ideas | Halloween Decorations

Did you know cheap plastic or synthetic Halloween decorations like spider webs, treat buckets, and wands can’t be recycled? Since they’re poor quality, they get quickly chucked right into the trash. And very often, people don’t take the time to take batteries out of cheap toys, which means they end up leaching in the dump. Ick.

There’s no need to trash the planet just to decorate your home for Halloween. You can use food that can later be eaten to decorate your home. The classic example is a carved-out pumpkin, of course. Here are some Halloween decorations I made from food this year.

Zero Waste Halloween Ghosts: This is a super easy project that kids can partake in. You may be able to find package-free chocolate chips sold near you in bulk. See the original Boo-Nanas recipe at Meaningful Eats.

Zero Waste Halloween Lanterns: These orange jack o’lanterns have a delicious fruit salad inside them. The recipe instructions can be found on eHow.  

Zero Waste Halloween Monster Mouth: These apple slices are from the Durham Coop. They are filled with peanut butter from one of my favorite local companies: Big Spoon Roasters. Check out the instructions by Meaningful Eats.

5. Zero Waste Halloween Ideas | Avoid Food Waste

In the UK alone, only 5% of the 10 million pumpkins that are carved out for Halloween are actually eaten. You know what that means? 18,000 tons of pumpkins are left to rot in the UK. All the water and energy that went into growing and transporting those pumpkins is wasted.    

So, instead of chucking out your nutritious pumpkin this year, make a soup or pie out of it, or even feed it to your chickens. The Guardian even shares ideas for pickling your pumpkin, frying the seeds, making a guacamole or mashing them.

Make sure to eat your boo-nanas, peanut-butter monsters, and orange lanterns, too. And if you’re a trick-or-treater, only take what you know you will eat!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these Zero Waste Halloween ideas! Which ideas will you be looking into this year for Halloween? Let us know in the comments below!

If you want to learn more about minimizing waste, check out our free Intro to Zero Waste Living class.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Cristina & Christelle.

Permaculture principles applied:

Observe and Interact – In nature, there is no waste: it’s a cyclical system. In our modern society, we live in a linear system where resources are extracted, then sent to the landfill. Recycling is only part of the answer, because it’s energy-intensive, not everything can be recycled, and new resources are still being extracted. Many substances (like plastic) can only be recycled several times before they are sent to the dump. How do we design ourselves out of this throwaway culture? It starts by analyzing how we are responsible for trash, to what extent we demand new resources to be extracted for us, and rethinking our habits.

Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback – In a world polluted by waste, we can start by discouraging wasteful activities in our own lives. Where could you make changes to reduce the waste in your life? What items already exist that you can attach value to? These are the questions that we hope this Zero Waste Halloween Ideas post inspires you to ask.

Produce No Waste – This is really the main principle for this post. By valuing resources that are available to us, nothing is wasted. By being resourceful, we can save perfectly good costumes from the dump. Someone else’s “waste” can be your gold.

Design From Patterns to Details – When we step back to observe patterns of the waste stream, we can design ourselves out of the problem by refusing what we don’t need (packaged Halloween treats), reducing what we have (unnecessary cheap Halloween decorations), reusing what is available (secondhand costumes on their last stop before the dump or eating your pumpkins!!), recycling (what we can’t refuse, reduce or reduce), and composting our food.

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