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Halloween is a grand time. Many of us, kids and adults alike, love to dress up and get kooky for an evening. Halloween gives us all permission to do that. Even more of us like to get a hold of an edible treat — Give me some candy! — and, on Halloween, this magic is also completely acceptable. And, whether it’s a church non-Halloween celebration or hitting the pavement dressed as a devil, this day gives us all a moment to commune with our neighbors.

However, as we become more and more ecologically focused, the commercial direction in which Halloween — and all holidays really — has moved is problematic. It can be super wasteful and unnecessarily damaging to the planet. In its wake each year, Halloween leaves millions of candy wrappers, plastic bags and buckets (for candy collection), and disposable costumes. For anyone after a green lifestyle, the wastefulness of Halloween can be even scarier than the costumes. But don’t panic yet. There are many ways to have an eco-friendly Halloween.

Just like we don’t need to eat chemical-laced food or use toxic products, we don’t have to make Halloween a bane on the planet. We can step back from the giant bags of candy and mass-produced costumes and begin reimagining the holiday as something more in line with what we want to celebrate. Check out these tips to have your own eco-friendly Halloween!

Make Your Own Treats

Forget store-bought candy. For one, we already know that it has absolutely nothing redeemable in terms of health. Rather, it fills us with things that harm us, including chemicals and excessive sugar. Also, it creates a huge amount of waste – a large plastic bag full of tiny candies individually wrapped in plastic packaging.

Instead, homemade Halloween treats can add a more personal touch to the holiday, provide at least a hint of nutrition to the whole endeavor, and cut down massively on the packaging. Some people worry about trick-or-treaters not being allowed to take these kinds of treats, but isn’t it time we start promoting community and trusting our neighbors over creating waste?

Throw a Party

Having a party as opposed to kids walking around on the streets seems to be a better idea anyway. Then, parents don’t have to worry about safety issues, and the event becomes something more focused on friends and family. A party also means more control over what foods your children are given, so it can be a bit healthier and sourced from more ethical companies.

Talk to the other parents around the neighborhood, and there could be a community effort to make a safe zone for children to enjoy homemade treats and jump between houses that are celebrating in more environmentally friendly ways. Each house could have its event: making upcycled decorations, DIY treats, or a haunted house.

Decorate with Natural or Upcycled Items

For some reason, our default setting has become going to the store and buying plastic versions of natural things to make our holiday decorations. We buy plastic pumpkins with battery-operated lighting. We buy newly produced, throwaway decorations each year – bats to hang around, ghosts to put in the window, and all that jazz.

This kind of stuff can be done with either natural items, i.e. a real pumpkin, or made from upcycled and/or biodegradable material. Bats, ghosts, and ghouls can be cut out of cardboard boxes and painted with non-toxic paints. Then, they aren’t producing new trash, cost a lot less (just the price of some paint), and are something to get the kids more into the spirit.

Reuse and Make Costumes

Costumes can be a difficult thing because children often want to dress up as the latest fad. When Star Wars is the big movie, everyone wants to be a Jedi or Stormtrooper. In this case, parents can start working together in costume swaps, saving themselves money and the planet’s resources, all while reducing waste. Otherwise, look for used costumes online, in specialty shops, or rent them.

Perhaps a more fun option, especially for younger children, is to make costumes at home. Again, a lot can be done with cardboard boxes, non-toxic paint, and a little creativity. There are old sheets and clothes, different props to be found in garages and attics, and plenty of resources to be found at charity shops, which would mean any money spent is at least going to a good cause.

Jack O’Lanterns Are Useful

Then, for goodness sake, we have to realize the potential of our Jack O’Lanterns. First of all, we should get an actual pumpkin because, when all is said and done, it can be tossed in the compost bin to provide some soil nutrition in the spring. Secondly, pumpkins are delicious, so we can make food from whatever we pull out.

There are many recipes and options for using the removed innards of Jack O’Lanterns. The seeds are a great place to start. They provide a huge lot of nutrition and can be roasted and salted as a healthy Halloween treat. Pumpkins can be used to make pumpkin pie, something to enjoy at the Halloween party, and the flesh can also be used to make soups, spreads, and burgers.

Undoubtedly, a more sustainable Halloween means changing traditions a little, but that’s the crux of what is happening with the sustainability movement today. For years now, we’ve been disrespectful to the planet, and we have to make a change. With the right attitude and an eye for fun, that can be a change for the better, both in an environmental sense and the way we celebrate.

If you want to get a head start on sustainable holiday decorations, check out Holiday Decorations You Can Make from Natural Materials!

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