5 Ways to Create a Zero-Waste Halloween

5 Ways to Create a Zero-Waste Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner, and it's one of the most beloved holidays in the United States. In 2022, we saw record-high spending of $10.6 billion, with this year projected to top $12.2 billion.1,9 That’s a lot of candy, costumes, pumpkins and decorations! It is estimated that over 70% of the American population will participate in the holiday.2 It's safe to say that Halloween is a big hairy deal. 🎃

The Haunting Impact of Halloween on the Environment

Unfortunately, annual Halloween festivities come with some pretty scary environmental consequences too. While Halloween brings lots of joy, fun and fright, it also packs our landfills with plastics, generates greenhouse gases and creates tons of waste. Here are some chilling facts to consider.

Costume Catastrophe
  • An estimated 83% of Halloween costumes are made with non-recyclable plastic, contributing to roughly 2,000 tons of plastic waste. And 63% of these costumes take up to 20-200 years to decompose.3
  • Shockingly, 35 million Halloween costumes are discarded in the U.S. every year, which is the potential equivalent of 415 million plastic bottles!!3,4
Pumpkin Peril
  • Approximately 1 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in landfills annually, releasing harmful methane gas, contributing to climate change.5

Pumpkin patch

Candy Carnage
  • Americans buy nearly 600 million pounds of candy for Halloween, generating an enormous amount of plastic candy wrappers.6,7
  • Each year, $400 million worth of uneaten sweets from trick-or-treating are thrown away.8
Decoration or Disaster
  • Americans spend approximately $2.36 billion on plastic Halloween decorations, many of which ultimately find their way to landfills.3

5 Zero-Waste Tips For Halloween

With so many grim statistics, it may not feel like there is much to celebrate. But in fact, you can most certainly enjoy the season in the same way you always have while aiming for zero-waste and helping do your part to preserve the environment by reducing plastic usage and keeping waste out of landfills.

1. Commit to zero waste or eco-friendly costumes—there are so many ways to avoid creating more waste!
  • Upcycle, donate, or re-use costumes instead of buying new.
  • Check your closet for clothing items that could be used for your costume idea.
  • Shop at local thrift stores for costume components and accessories. Some of the most creative costumes can come from unique, one-of-a-kind items not available to the masses.
  • Ask your local buy-nothing group for specific items, or rent a costume from a local costume shop.

Donate costume from local buy-nothing group

 2. Compost your pumpkin(s) and give pumpkin seeds or baked goods a try.
  • Try roasting pumpkin seeds for a delicious and waste-free treat.
  • Create pumpkin puree for recipes such as pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins or pumpkin pie!
  • Drop your pumpkins at a local composting site or in your curbside bin.
  • If appropriate, let backyard squirrels and critters enjoy some of the pumpkin before it gets composted.
3. Estimate the amount of candy you will use and don’t overbuy.
  • Buy the amount of candy you realistically think you will need for trick-or-treating. With pre-Halloween sales, it can be tempting to go with the big bags of candy that are the same price as the regular sized bags. Keep in mind what you will actually use and try to purchase accordingly.

Halloween candy

4. Recycle your candy and snack wrappers. 
  • Recycle your wrappers safely and sustainably by bringing them to a TerraCycle drop box at the zero-waste store, Tare Market. TerraCycle accepts various snack bags and wrappers, including chips, candy, and granola wrappers.
5. Decorate sustainably. 
  • Use natural decorations that can be composted at the end of their life; pinecones, acorns, leaves, and gourds are festive options.
  • Find reusable, longer-lasting decorations that can be enjoyed year after year.
  • Feeling crafty? Search for décor ideas online and DIY by utilizing craft items you already own.
  • Donate or offer decorations to your local buy-nothing group when you no longer want them vs disposing of them in the trash. Or find décor items that others are giving away.

A Spook-tacular Zero-Waste Halloween Awaits

With a little planning, you will be on your way to celebrating a Halloween that’s less wasteful and more eco-friendly. And remember, a little goes a long way—don’t feel pressure to try and do all five tips at once. Even incorporating one of the five ways outlined above into your holiday can make a big difference toward helping lessen our impact on the planet. And over time, you can set goals to incorporate even more! Happy trick-or treating! 🌍👻





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