The Definitive Guide to a Green Halloween
Too much sugar can turn anyone’s stomach a bit green. Whether you love Halloween for the horror, trick-or-treating, or waiting for The Great Pumpkin, here are a few suggestions for a “green” Halloween that involve less sugar and more sustainability.
By Jessica Miles
October 29, 2020

Too much sugar can turn anyone’s stomach a bit green. Whether you love Halloween for the horror, trick-or-treating, or waiting for The Great Pumpkin, here are a few suggestions for a “green” Halloween that involve less sugar and more sustainability. 

Give Your Costume a Makeover

Americans love Halloween. In 2019, the National Retail Federation expected Americans would spend $8.8 billion on the holiday.

Dressing up is half the fun. In the past, I’ve gone as a “recycling cheerleader” for Halloween. However, the costume was store bought from Halloween City. The problem is retailers selling pre-made costumes are assuming customers will buy new costumes annually. As a result, the material quality is poor and environmentally harmful.

A more sustainable option is reusing Halloween costumes or crafting a DIY outfit. Stressed out parents can call child clothing company Primary’s Halloween Helpline and a customer service agent will walk them through how to DIY a costume. Adult options include browsing flea markets, thrift shops or items from your closet. (Brit + Co and PopSugar have good idea lists.) A DIY Halloween costume is not only good for the environment, but it helps you stand out from the crowd!

Homemade Decorations are Always Spookier

Store bought Halloween decorations are usually made from cheap non-recyclable plastic. While there is little more horrifying than marine life with stomachs full of plastic, help the planet and go for a DIY feel instead.

Brightly.Eco has tutorials on how to make your own spiderwebs and turn milk jugs into jack-o-lanterns, and painted mason jar lids into pumpkins. Harvard also recommends using old stockings to make spiderwebs and cardboard boxes to make tombstones.

Plus, DIY-ing Halloween decorations allows for a personal touch to the tricks. Why settle for a boring, battery-powered, plastic skeleton, when you can do so much more? For example, one year my mom made “Hallo-themed” bags my friends and I had to reach into blindly. One bag supposedly contained “brains and veins” (sea sponge and lightly cooked spaghetti noodles.) One girl got so scared she wet her pants! Anything can be scary if you want it to be.

Party Sustainably!

Speaking of Halloween parties, WWF recommends cutting down on waste by avoiding disposable cups, plates, and cutlery. Instead, opt for reusable or biodegradable options. Additionally, trick-or-treat in your local neighborhood rather than drive to a secondary location to cut down on car emissions. 

Smashing Pumpkins

As a kid, the smell of a gutted pumpkin always made me gag. Yet, there’s no denying that a well-carved pumpkin is a Halloween staple. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy claimed that carved pumpkins added 254 million tons of municipal waste to landfills, and the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkin will decompose and produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is more potent than CO2.

Knowing this means every American will have to do the unthinkable: consume as much pumpkin as possible! Personally, I am absolutely willing to take one for the team by channeling my inner “basic-girl” and consuming pumpkin-everything.

The versatility of pumpkin is undeniable. The flesh can be used to make a variety of baked goods, from pumpkin pie to pumpkin risotto. If you’re deciding between carving and painting a pumpkin, opt for carving as it allows it to be composted. Furthermore, chickens enjoy eating the stringy parts, seeds, and side scrapings of a pumpkin.

Reusable treat bags

Instead of buying a cheap plastic trick-or-treat bucket to carry candy, opt for a reusable option like a canvas tote bag or reusable bucket. If holiday theme is important, certain stores like Pottery Barn Kids have spooky reusable options as well. If all else fails, swap a plastic container for a pillowcase. Kids will be happy with the amount of candy it can hold, and the earth will be happy you kept one less plastic item out of the landfill.

Sustainable candy

As it turns out, candy can be bad for more than just dental hygiene. Brand name candy companies can have a massive environmental and social justice impact. Large sugar, palm oil, and cocoa bean demands have led to deforestation and species extinction. Furthermore, some of these companies have been found to source their cocoa beans from countries that use child or slave labor.

Two more ethical choices are either making homemade treats or finding trusted candy companies with more ethical standards. It helps to look for brands that have independent certifications like USDA organic or Fairtrade. (Tony’s Chocolonely is a great option for chocolate lovers.)

 Happy Halloween! Here’s to hoping no one puts a rock in your trick-or-treat bag!


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