a kid in a skeleton costume holding up a carved jack-o'-lantern to their face

11 Eco-Friendly Halloween Tips: Easy Tricks (and Treats) for a Sustainable Celebration

Last Updated: September 21, 2022

Give your Halloween an eco-friendly makeover with a few spooky tips and ghoulish tricks.

O, Hallowe’en! Nearly a quarter of Americans say it’s their favorite holiday, and for good reason. You get to whip out your creepiest decor, watch horror movie marathons, and binge eat mini candy bars without a lick of guilt. It goes without saying that Halloween should be fun and spooky — but that doesn’t mean it has to be scary for the environment.

To offset the spine-chilling toll Halloween takes on Mother Nature, we rounded up a list of 11 easy tips and tricks to make your spooky season black, orange, and a lil’ bit green, too.

Is Halloween eco-friendly?

Wanna hear something that’ll really scare you? Halloween is one of the least eco-friendly holidays we celebrate, and the most terrifying consequences of Halloween come from all the plastic waste. Around 83% of Halloween costumes contain plastic materials like polyester — but that statistic doesn’t include wigs, plastic candy buckets, costume accessories, decor, or all those shiny candy wrappers. In 2019 alone, it was predicted that 4,000 pounds of plastic waste would be created during Halloween — and that was just in the UK.

Plastic is cheap to make, cheap to buy, and super durable, but it’s also horrifyingly difficult to get rid of. It can take hundreds of years for plastic to degrade, although it never really goes away. Instead, it turns into microplastics — teensy tiny plastic particles that’ve been found in the bottom of the ocean, at the top of Mount Everest, and even in human placentas. Talk about spine-chilling.

Get creative with crafts

Grab your glue gun and the bottles of craft paint that’ve been languishing in your junk drawer, and let’s get to work! It’s super easy to create a variety of Halloween costumes using stuff you’ve got laying around the house.

Here are a few kids’ Halloween costume ideas to get you started:

  • Craft a Captain America shield out of a paper plate and paint.
  • Cut out fairy wings from cardboard, paint, and attach string to hold ‘em on your kidddo’s back.
  • Make a mini Superman with a white button up, drawn-on glasses, and a piece of paper painted to look like Superman’s iconic logo.

    • Thrift your costume

      Halloween costumes are a major source of waste — but there is an alternative. Thrift your costume! Put pieces together from the thrift store or buy online from secondhand websites like Poshmark, Depop, Tradesy, and Ebay. If you have something specific in mind that you can’t thrift, consider buying a custom costume from a seller on Etsy — this way, you get the costume you want and you’re supporting a small business.

      Choose natural face paint

      Halloween makeup often contains PVC — a type of plastic. Instead of reaching for the palette of waxy face paint that smells like the inside of a shoe, look for makeup products made from natural ingredients to create sustainably spooky looks this year.

Treats and treat bag alternatives

Choose candy in cardboard boxes

Everybody loves fun-size Snickers. As for the plastic wrappers they come in? Not so much. When shopping for Halloween candy this year, nix the hard-to-recycle plastic candy wrappers and look for mini treats that come in recyclable cardboard boxes.

These candies are easy to find in mini cardboard boxes around Halloween time:

  • Skittles
  • Nerds
  • Dots
  • Junior Mints
  • Whoppers

Think outside the wrapper

Candy is delicious, but it’s not the only option for the spooky kids (and their parents!) who show up at your door. Skip the candy entirely and stuff your trick-or-treaters bags with goodies that are too special to eat.

Need an idea or two? Check these out:

  • Friendship bracelets
  • Cans of La Croix
  • Homemade slime
  • Novelty pencils
  • Crayons

Tricks for treat bags

Plastic trick-or-treat buckets aren’t the most ideal way to stow tasty treats and tantalizing tricks. We’ve got a few sustainable suggestions you can peruse to avoid creating more plastic waste this Halloween.

  • Reuse plastic shopping bags.
  • Outfit your little one with a cloth shopping bag.
  • DIY a treat bag from materials around the house.

Eco-friendly decor and decorations

Snack on some pumpkin seeds

Instead of tossing the seeds, roast them in the oven with salt and spices for a tasty treat. You can gift these to friends and family, put them out at your Halloween party, or much ‘em while you binge watch Rob Zombie’s horror movies.

DIY decorations

DIYing your Halloween decorations is a great way to prevent extra waste during spooky season, and save money while you’re at it. Kids will love it, too!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Tissue paper ghosts
  • Jack-o-lanterns
  • Construction paper monsters and bats

Hit up your favorite thrift store

During the post-Halloween come down, people tend to donate their spooky decor to thrift stores. Use this as an opportunity to stock up on decorations for next year! Not only will you find lightly used decorations for cheaper than you’d get them at a big box retailer, but you’ll also prevent waste by shopping secondhand.


Haunt your local farmers

If you can, buy locally-grown pumpkins. This will help lower your carbon footprint, plus you’ll help out your local farmers! Don’t forget to compost your pumpkins after Halloween is over to prevent unnecessary waste from ending up in the landfills.

Eco-friendly party tips

Throw a potluck

Throw a monster mash with all of your favorite ghouls, and enlist them each to bring their dish in a reusable container — worms and eyeballs optional. Make a big ol’ bowl of punch to reduce waste from single-use drinks.

Use compostable dishware

Ditch the single-use paper plates and opt for compostable dishware instead. These bowls, plates, cups, and cutlery are made from compostable materials, like natural bamboo, that are better for the environment than traditional tree paper. Label disposable cups so your party goers can keep track of ‘em, reducing the need to grab a new cup.

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