Eco-Friendly Halloween Ideas: Candy, Costumes, Décor & More

Halloween glitter pumpkin jack o lantern decor with funny faces.

Halloween should be a fright fest for the kids, not the environment. Unfortunately, all the waste produced from single-use costumes, candy wrappers, and face paint takes its toll on our earth. Try greening your Halloween with some of these eco-friendly tips.  

Go Green: Halloween Candy 

So many Halloween treats come in unrecyclable plastic wrappers. Those wrappers add up, especially when you think of how quickly kids go through their candy! Not to mention, most Halloween treats are also made with unsustainable palm oil, which is absolutely no good for the environment. Palm oil is in such high demand that it’s one of the leading causes of deforestation. To make palm oil, palm oil industries burn down rainforests and replace them with palm oil farms. This releases carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, further contributing to climate change. It also misplaces the homes of many rainforest animals, like orangutans (which are a critically endangered species, thanks to human activity). So, this Halloween, please choose to support greener candy options. 

Green option: Choose palm oil free candy, no matter what. If you can, opt for candy packaged in cardboard boxes too, which are easy to recycle (Nerds, Dots, Good & Plenty, Junior Mints). Also, chocolate wrapped in foil is a great idea, considering foil is recyclable. Or, better yet, make your own sweets. If you’d prefer not to give out any candy this Halloween, consider participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project and giving out non-edibles instead. 

Go Green: Face Paint 

Did you know a 2009 report from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found lead, nickel, cobalt and chromium in most children’s face paint? To make matters worse, these products were still labeled “FDA compliant” and “hypoallergenic.” That’s absolutely ridiculous, considering there is no level of lead that is good for you. Those findings were again confirmed in 2014 when the FDA themselves tested 10 face paints for heavy metals and all 10 contained lead, along with other hazardous metals.   

Green option: Skip out on the face paint altogether, opting to use the makeup you already have at home to create cool designs. Or, make your own DIY natural face paint that won’t be toxic for you, or the environment.

Go Green: Halloween Costumes 

Most Halloween costumes are made from incredibly cheap, mass produced flame-resistant fabrics that won’t catch fire and can be extinguished quickly. While this is a good idea for children who may run past a candlelit Jack-O-Lantern, there’s growing evidence that links flame retardants with adverse health effects. These health effects include reproductive issues, neurological development concerns, and hormone disruption, to name a few. If a costume contains all these chemicals that can harm us, surely these chemicals can also harm the environment. Unfortunately, since most costumes aren’t worn more than once, they wind up in a landfill. That, or they sit in your closet and leach toxins into your surroundings. 

Green option: Look for “PVC-free” or “phthalate free” costumes (they shouldn’t smell like a shower curtain). You can also try wearing old costumes from previous Halloweens, or swapping with a friend. If you prefer to save a buck and not wear a costume, try whipping up your own costume from the clothes you already have in your closet. Have a green dress? Go as Tinker Bell. A plaid shirt and a straw hat? Go as a scarecrow. Get creative and use items you already have lying around your house. You can also find some great pieces at thrift stores, all of which you can reuse again at a later time. 

Go Green: Pumpkins 

Sadly, hundreds of pumpkins are discarded and sent to the landfill after being carved up for a single night. That waste is unacceptable: People are starving all over this planet and pumpkins are food. Growing a pumpkin also takes up a lot of resources: Think about the amount of water, fertilizers, and energy it took to grow one pumpkin alone. There’s also the fact that farmers have to face things like drought or too much rain, which can greatly affect their harvest. We should learn to appreciate all the pumpkins, squash, and gourds that come our way this season, not toss them in the trash. 

Green option: If you decide to carve a pumpkin this year, compost the guts and save the seeds. You can roast the seeds and eat them for a snack, or add them to dishes like salads or soups. Or, you can try your hand at growing your own pumpkin by planting the seeds. Make sure to compost any pumpkin chunks you cut out while carving too. When the jack-o’-lantern has started to rot, make sure to compost it immediately. Don’t throw it in the trash! If you have a pumpkin out for decoration you didn’t carve, use it up before simply throwing it away at the end of the season. Pumpkins can be made into a delicious soup or try your hand at pumpkin pie

Go Green: Halloween Decorations 

Halloween decorations are typically made from cheap, non-recyclable plastics that go straight into the landfill after one use. They’re similar to Halloween costumes in that right, considering most are only used for a brief amount of time. Why opt for decorations that cost you money and hurt the environment every year? There are so many better options out there that will even help you save a buck. 

Green option: Have any Halloween decorations from last year in storage? Take those out and reuse them. Nothing to work with? Make your own decorations, or choose to incorporate more natural décor into your home. Instead of going for a “spooky” theme, how about an autumn and fall theme? Go outside, harvest some leaves, twigs, pine cones, and acorns. You can create beautiful centerpieces using these items. Line your porch or stair way with pumpkins and gourds you can compost or turn into a meal at the end of their lives. If you want to light some candles, opt for ones made from soy or beeswax instead of petroleum-based candles (which can be harmful when lit). If you’re hosting a party, use actual plates, cups, and silverware instead of disposables. If you really cannot be bothered washing dishes, choose compostable dining ware. The less you have to buy, the better. 


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