How to Make Your Halloween More Sustainable

October is here, and Halloween is quickly approaching! Throughout the years, education about sustainable practices has become more common, and what used to be a favourite annual holiday is now known as an environmental train wreck. 

You have likely found yourself here because you are one of the many people who deeply care about sustainability, but also need to find a compromise between celebrating the holiday traditions you love and taking care of our planet. 

Firstly, sacrificing tradition is never necessary – with a little extra work and research you can change Halloween into a sustainable holiday. To make it easier, the following article will serve as a guide to implementing sustainable practices into your Halloween celebrations. Under each category, there are easy, medium and hard recommendations. These are meant to give you options on what you can do depending on the amount of money, time and energy you have.

Candy

One of the best parts about Halloween, especially growing up, is the gigantic quantity of candy you collect and consume. Despite the joy of experiencing a sugar overload, most Halloween candy is packaged in small, single-serving wrappers. These wrappers end up piled in landfills, on streets and in the ocean. Also, many large-scale candy corporations do not use ethical practices during the candy-making process. Here are some sustainable options to help evade these environmental and ethical concerns: 

Easy: Try to purchase readily available candy that is in sustainable packaging. Smarties often come packaged in cardboard boxes, as well as Sunmaid Raisins and Milk Duds. These boxes offer a more sustainable option due to their recycling ability. Alternatively, if your candy is not being handed out to trick-or-treaters, you can purchase pre-made candies from a bulk store. 

Medium: Purchase sustainably sourced candies. This includes any candies with FreeTrade, UTZ, Rainforest Alliance Certificates, etc. Several brands that fall into this category are Nelly’s Organics, Divine Chocolate and the Ginger People, but there are many more! The downside to this sustainable strategy is that these brands are often more expensive than big-brand candies, and, often, they do not come in Halloween-sized packaging. 

Hard: If you are a DIY lover, consider making your own candy at home. There are plenty of recipes online to search through, and you can source and package the candy yourself. Just remember that this option may not be suitable for trick-or-treaters as many parents do not feel comfortable with their children eating unsealed homemade food. This option may be better suited for Halloween parties or get-togethers.

Costumes

Whether you are dressing yourself or a child, costumes are a very important Halloween tradition. Unfortunately, many costumes are sewn in sweatshops and are not built to last more than a year or two. Moreover, costume culture during Halloween often encourages people to purchase a new costume each October. The following are tips you can use to make your Halloween costume more sustainable:

Easy: One of the easiest ways to stop buying a new costume every fall and save money is to rent a costume. Within your city or town, there may be a costume rental place you can visit. Alternatively, there are many costume rental websites where you can order a costume and then ship it back to the warehouse after your Halloween celebrations. 

Medium: If you are looking to add a little bit more creativity into your Halloween costume hunt, try visiting your local thrift shop or consignment store. There are likely many second-hand Halloween costumes, but you can also search through the used clothing to make your own costume. Also, when you are done with your costumes, remember to donate them! That way, someone else may have the chance to use them as well.

Hard: If you have the sewing skills or are simply committed to taking on a project, you can make your own costumes from scratch! There are thousands of tutorials online and remember when sourcing materials to look for second-hand or ethically made fabric. Also, try looking for natural non-toxic Halloween makeup or sustainable makeup brands. 

a girl in a chair saying halloween is cool The Walt Disney Company / Giphy

Decorations

Halloween decorations are often made with cheap and toxic materials. The products are built to last no more than a season or two before they end up in the landfill. Here are some suggestions when choosing sustainable Halloween decorations:

Easy: One very simple way to become more sustainable during Halloween is to invest in high-quality, long-lasting decorations. Look for items that you will be able to use year-after-year and will not fall apart easily. Also, use real pumpkins as a decoration. You may already be doing this, but remember to compost your pumpkins once Halloween is over!

Medium: Go thrifting for Halloween decorations. Chances are there will be some really good second-hand decorations for low prices.

Hard: Using real pumpkins as a decoration is easy but challenge yourself to use all of the pumpkin. If you don’t end up carving the pumpkin, make some pumpkin pie or another pumpkin-themed meal. If you carved the pumpkin, collect the seeds and roast them with seasonings. 

Hopefully, these tips will help you make your Halloween celebrations more sustainable. Perfection is not needed to make a difference and little changes add up to a bigger change.