The Halloween industry brings in around $6 billion each year. With that amount of decorations, costumes, and candy consumption comes a hefty environmental impact. Americans have created a demand for about 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkin per year (our composter Cedar Grove gets so many pumpkins in fall that they have to change their recipe!). We spend $2.08 billion on candy, and $2.6 billion on costumes. All in all it’s a lot of waste – but you can make some minor changes to make less trash at Halloween.
Candy Isn’t the Only Treat You Can Offer
Americans give and receive 600 million pounds of candy each Halloween – enough to fill 6 Titanic ships! That’s a lot of candy wrappers going in the trash. Instead of candy, try giving away items with minimal or recyclable packaging. Green Halloween offers some alternatives to candy that will still get kids excited to Trick-or-Treat:
- Hair ties and/or clips
- Fun shaped erasers
- Assorted pencils and pens
- Mini Play-Doh containers
- Slinky’s, bouncy balls, etc.
- All natural juice boxes (recyclable)
- Tangerines or clementines
Not only will this be healthier, it gets rid of some of the thousands of wrappers that will either end up in the trash or on the street. Or, if you still want to give away candy, look for organic, local and fair-trade treat options for a more earth-friendly option.
Got more candy than you can eat? (The average American eats more than 3 pounds of candy over Halloween!) Don’t toss it – instead, donate all your unopened leftover candy to troops overseas! Halloween Candy Buy Back works with Operation Gratitude to collect extra candy and send it to troops who will enjoy it.
Costumes Don’t Have to Be Worn Just Once
Feel like you’re always spending too much money on the “perfect” costume that only gets worn once?
There are costumes swaps happening all over the United States that allow anyone to come with their gently-worn costume to trade in for a different one. At our first Halloween costume swap in October 2016, we gave out about 30-40 costumes donated by the community; in 2017, we gave out about 40-50; and in 2018, we gave out more than 100. If you weren’t able to attend our swap, buying secondhand is a great option. Value Village and Goodwill in Kirkland both offer a wide selection of gently-worn costumes.
After Halloween, make sure to donate or regift your costumes so someone else can wear them. We accept costume donations each fall for the week before our costume swap.
Reduce Waste in Party Planning and Decorating
Where you can, opt for reusable or compostable decorations instead of items that can only be used one time, like balloons and disposable Halloween-themed utensils and plates. This year instead of using the themed disposable utensils, napkins, and plates, choose reuseable or compostable ware to serve to your guests. Any coated plate (most plates that have a design printed on them) need to be thrown away.
The classic pumpkin Jack-O-Lantern is a great compostable decoration. Save all the pumpkin seeds to bake as a late night snack after trick-or-treating! You can also use reusable battery-powered ‘candles’ to light your pumpkins up at night.
While you’re out picking your perfect pumpkin, you can also pick up some stalks of corn that will make perfect decorations inside or outside your home. After Halloween is over, you can throw pumpkins and corn in your yard waste bin instead of the garbage. Just make sure to take out the candle! (If you painted your pumpkin, you’ll need to throw it away.)
So, what are you going to do to make Halloween green this year?