Celebrate Halloween, Zero Waste Style

Pumpkins and Cornstalks = Beautiful Compostable Decor photo © Rebecca Rockefeller

by Rebecca Rockefeller

Halloween is a much beloved holiday in my own home, and my children plan all year for their costumes and how they’d like to decorate our yard for our annual neighborhood party.

Modern American Halloweens tend to be heavy on the non-recyclable plastic end of festivities, with candy, costumes, and decorations all coming wrapped in and made of the stuff.

Pumpkin Walk photo © Rebecca Rockefeller

Luckily, the traditional roots of Halloween encourage celebrations with small plastic footprints, and old-fashioned decor and treats are just as beautiful and delicious today as in years past. If you’re looking to celebrate the holiday fully but without modern waste it’s certainly possible, with no reduction in fun. Pumpkins, corn stalks, natural fiber costumes, scary stories, and crunchy fall leaves all come without plastic packaging or parts, and can be composted when they’re worn out (or go to seed future harvests in the case of scary stories; hello nightmares and future horror novelists and filmmakers).

Dancing Panda & Ghost Girl, Homemade Costume Style photo © Rebecca Rockefeller

Here are a few our favorite links to more information to help make Halloween even better:

  • If you have children getting ready for a classroom party, you can help turn it into a zero waste event with tips from this Rock Farmer post that I wrote; sure, it’s about a Valentine’s Day party, but can easily be applied to Halloween.
  • Green Halloween has a number of action kits full of tips for parents, teachers, and entire communities.
  • Green Living Ideas has a roundup of Eek-O-Friendly Halloween Ideas ideas that includes “upcycled DIY decor, post-pumpkin responsibilities, zero waste tips, and deliciously spooky vegan Halloween treats.”
  • Washington Toxics Coalition will help keep your Halloween free of toxins (which so often go hand-in-hand with plastics and non-recyclable materials) with their “Don’t Get Tricked this Halloween” edition of Growing Up Green.

DIY Halloween Fairy Lights: Tomatillo Husks on Orange LED Lights photo © Rebecca Rockefeller

How do you celebrate Halloween? Do you have some zero waste or Halloween-less-plastic tips you can add? Does your community have a costume drive after Halloween to help share costumes with people who’ll need them next year? Is there a single-use holiday item that you can’t seem to avoid that you’d like a durable alternative for? Let us know – We’d love to add your tips (with a link to your site, of course) and we’re always looking for new zero waste challenges to take on.

Halloween Shopping at a Local Pumpkin Patch photo © Rebecca Rockefeller

Looking for more zero waste ideas for Halloween or other holidays? Do visit our Trash Backwards app where you can browse our holiday category for hundreds of green ideas:

Click Through for Zero Waste Holiday Ideas at Trash Backwards

Click Through for Zero Waste Holiday Ideas at Trash Backwards

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Categories: Plastic-Free Living, Repurpose and Reuse, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff, Upcycle, Zero Waste Guide


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3 Comments on “Celebrate Halloween, Zero Waste Style”

  1. October 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    I am fortunate in where I live, there are no trick-or-treaters. The only children that come to my door are my own family members. Therefore, instead of candy I give them home made treats, coloring books/books, maybe an article of clothing. This year my oldest grand daughter will receive a shirt along with her treats. The shirt is one that is too short on her, but she was so upset when she was told it was too small. Instead of passing it on, I added fabric to lengthen the top and will give it back to her.

    As for decorating, it’s mostly leaves, pumpkins, and other natural items collected from the outdoors.

    • October 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

      That sounds like a lovely Halloween to me! I know my kids would be overjoyed to get one of their favorite shirts back in a size that fits again; as much as they like candy, I think that would be their favorite treat. I really miss the homemade treats I used to get from strangers on Halloween – Popcorn balls in waxed paper were my favorite. I’m still hoping someday we can reclaim that tradition.

      • October 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

        I do as well. When I was younger one neighbor would give us caramel apples, and baked treats. Then the world changed. I can’t wait to give my grand daughter her favorite shirt back.

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