As one of childhood’s most fun and anticipated annual holidays, Halloween provides a great opportunity to indulge in loads of extra sweets and to transform into someone or something else, if only for a short time. Unfortunately, so many of the fun traditions that come along with Halloween also lead to loads of extra waste.
Despite good intentions, many of us give in to purchasing and then tossing one-time use items like plastic masks, paper decorations, and, of course, all of that candy, complete with individual wrappers. In fact, each year, Americans spend an estimated $2.5 billion on Halloween candy sales alone. Once the fun (and the overindulgence) is over, so much of that waste is simply tossed, often creating as much as an extra garbage bag per household.
This year, make a commitment to say no to a wasteful Halloween and instead consider starting new traditions of your own with some of these easy and greener alternatives.
Let your decorations become part of the tradition
Instead of buying cheap, throwaway decor, take a little time to first really consider what type of Halloween decorations you and your family enjoy most and invest in items that make it worth reusing for years to come. Think ceramic pumpkins (no plastic!), handmade figures like witches or other spooky characters, and even festive table decor like special plates, cloth napkins, and place mats.
For more budget (and kid) friendly options, start by using what you already have on hand at home. Grab paper and scissors to cut out a spooky ghost or friendly monster to peer out of the corner of a mirror or window, or dig into your gift wrapping supplies for orange or black ribbon to use as the base of a fun Halloween garland to hang.
My Green Birmingham Tip: Get more bang for your buck by combining autumn and Halloween decor by using more natural elements such as a variety of pumpkins sitting on the front stoop alongside a bundle of corn stocks.
Treats don’t have to always mean candy
To most kids (and adults too), dumping out a big bag of Halloween candy at the end of a night of trick-or-treating is like finding a bag of gold. Yet, equally as fun is sorting through it all and finding something that stands out among it all like a small toy or other kind of trinket. Consider handing out small tokens (best if made from eco-friendly materials, of course) like bracelets, erasers, stickers, puzzles, or crayons instead of traditional candy. You could even offer kids the option to choose candy or another kind of treat. I’ll never forget the year my daughter rang a neighbor’s bell and was beyond ecstatic to be handed a small set of Hello Kitty hair barrettes.
Treat trick-or-treaters to the real good stuff
There’s no denying that everyone loves finding the house where jumbo-sized candy bars are handed out each year. Yet, don’t let the whole bigger is better idea fool you. The scary reality is that not only are those jumbo portion sizes massively unhealthy for our bodies, their production is also wreaking an incredible havoc on the environment. In all honesty, even bite-sized candy bars can have a big impact on growing environmental concerns such as climate change, deforestation, and animal extinction. A significant portion of Halloween candy is made using palm oil, which when harvested is often destructive to rainforest habitats.
For ideas for healthier and more sustainably made treats, check out these 4 ideas for more eco-friendly Halloween treats (that not only help save the planet but may also make you the neighborhood rock star).
Channel your inner creativity to make your own costume
In a world full of convenience, it’s soooo easy to just pop into your local big box party store, and browse and buy a costume and supplies all in under 20 minutes. Thankfully, it’s just as easy to shop for costume needs right in your own home. Skip coming up with an idea for a costume first and instead, get inspired by what you find.
A little makeup can make all the difference when combined with things like a flannel shirt and jeans or overalls (scarecrow), a striped shirt, black pants, and a cloth bag (bank robber) , or even a black shirt and leggings with small black paper triangles glued to a headband (black cat). If you’re lacking inspiration at home, try your luck at a local thrift store or even a friend’s house to borrow something.