Celebrate Halloween in a sustainable way — this blog covers everything from eco-friendly Halloween decorations to costumes and food to celebrate responsibly.
With the first gust of chilly wind in September, my mind goes straight to one thing — Halloween.
As the month progresses and October comes around, I'm in a deep Halloween mood.
It certainly doesn't help that stores seem to be putting out Halloween decorations earlier and earlier every year.
I almost succumbed this year. I went to my local Walmart and started filling the cart with all the cute and gory Halloween decor. Then I took a deep breath, calculated how much it would all cost, and started putting the witches and ghosts back on the shelves.
I decided to give my wallet a break and go a different route this year. Why not make my own Halloween decorations. In fact, why not take it a step further, and make eco-friendly Halloween decorations!
Today I’ll share with you how I made my Halloween celebrations more sustainable.
Get ready for a ton of eco-friendly Halloween decorations, food, and costume ideas.
Now that we have covered the most delicious part of Halloween let’s move on to the decor.
Here’re some eco-friendly Halloween ideas that’ll make your home stand out.
Image: Honestly Modern
So, I got this idea from Honestly Modern and tried it out last Halloween.
The idea was an instant hit!
Whether you’re having an eco-friendly Halloween party or just want some everyday spooky decor to put you in the Halloween mood, start with the spooky trees.
Go out for a walk and collect some smaller stones and sticks fallen from the trees along the way. You can go for leafless ones or with dried leaves for an extra spooky effect.
Put the stones in a glass jar, then add the sticks.
Cut out black bats from cardstock and glue them onto the trees. This will have an extra creepy effect.
This idea is eco-friendly because you’ll be using natural and recyclable materials. A glass jar can always be reused. If you don’t need the stones anymore, you can put them back where you found them. The cardstock is recyclable, and the sticks are compostable.
Turn the lights off (and save on the electricity), and set the mood with candles.
You can even put candles along the front door pathway to light up the way for trick or treaters and make your front yard look even more spooky.
You can also place the candles beside the traditional pumpkins to celebrate the Halloween theme.
My suggestion would be to be creative with the candle placements.
However, make sure to place them in a safe and secure place so that you don't have to face any fire incident.
It’s all about what kind of candles you use. Stay away from scented candles, as most of them are paraffin-based. Paraffin is a by-product of petroleum, and when it burns, it emits carcinogens into the air.
Instead, use beeswax candles, as these are carcinogens-free.
This is a great idea to use things you already have around the house. You’ll add to the creepy decor, save on some money, and if you have children, they’ll love making these.
Find some glass jars, and wrap then glue the gauze around them. Draw two googly eyes, put a beeswax candle or LED lights inside, and you’ll have your own Egyptian mummies to light up the night.
However, I would suggest to use LED instead of candles. Or, you can go for the solar Christmas lights too.
It’s a great way to reuse glass jars you have lying around, as well as to reuse some gauze. Use eco-friendly glue and beeswax or a plant-based candle, and you’re all set.
You can also use paper towel rolls to make floating candles. It’s easy to make. Cut paper towel rolls in half, and use eco-friendly glue to make it look like wax is dripping down the sides.
You can paint the glue red to make it look like it’s blood dripping.
I attach these to a string and hang them on my curtain rod or glue straight on the window. All the Harry Potter fans in your neighborhood will be impressed.
Check out this YouTube video.
This is a perfect idea to reuse some paper towel rolls instead of sending them to landfills. You can also recycle some leftover string you have laying around, and to make it completely eco-friendly, use sustainable glue for wax drippings.
No Halloween decor is complete without a couple (or a heap) of gourds and pumpkins. You can decorate the pumpkin any way you like. Use a non-toxic paint to draw on it, make some chic pumpkins by gluing gold studs on it, or the classic carving.
A pumpkin is one of the most eco-friendly Halloween decor items you can get.
Get it from a local pumpkin patch or farmer’s market to cut down on transportation emissions.
Once Halloween is gone and the pumpkin is past its prime, you can compost it. Or, even better, roast the seeds and use pumpkin insides for pie.
If you’re looking for something spookier, you’ll love the hanging ghost.
It’s finally time to use that old sheet that’s sitting in your closet collecting dust. Collect some old newspapers, and stuff the top part of the sheet with them. You want to make a shape resembling a head. Tie off this part, so the newspapers stay in place.
Then, simply drape the ghost on your porch or if you have a tree in your yard.
To make it extra creepy, paint a scary face on it.
This is an eco-friendly idea because you’ll be reusing an old sheet, as well as newspapers. For the face paint, you can use non-toxic paint.
Image and idea credit: STLToday.com
One final idea for spooky decoration includes using milk jugs.
This is a great option for lighting up your walkway or porch without spending money on plastic ghost lanterns.
Instead of throwing away milk jugs, save as many as you want for Halloween. Start by drawing scary or funny faces on them with a black marker. Then color in the faces (or let your kids do it).
Cut a hole on the backside of the jugs. Line them up, and put some lights in them.
This is one of the simplest and easiest DIY eco-friendly Halloween decorations you have.I've taken this idea from STLToday.com.
You’ll be reusing milk jugs instead of sending them to decompose in a landfill. You can also use battery-operated lights to save on electricity.
In 2022 Americans spent $3.6 billion on Halloween costumes, which $3.2 billion in 2019. That’s about $120 for a family of four, all for costumes that’ll be worn for a couple of hours and then thrown out.
Here’s how to cut down on this waste.
The main worry I had, and what stopped me from looking for eco-friendly Halloween costumes for a long time, was that I’d end up being a ghost or something equally unimaginative.
But, once I set foot in a thrift store, I saw how unfounded my worries were. A thrift store is a treasure trove for every costume you can imagine. You are guaranteed to at least find a couple of pieces, if not the whole costume.
Also, check out online sources, such as eBay or Etsy. You’ll be surprised by second-hand, vintage pieces you’ll find there.
Instead of buying new, you’ll be reusing something someone else discarded. It’s a great way to avoid fast fashion and save money at the same time.
Also, try to keep the pieces in good shape so you can re-donate them after Halloween.
If you can’t find anything that suits you at the thrift store, or you want a costume that’s already complete, consider renting it.
This is a great idea, especially if you want something fancy. You can find something fabulous and be the best-dressed person at the party, for a fraction of a price compared to if you were to buy a new costume.
Check with a local costumer or theater. Some will rent out their collections.
If you rent from a theater, you’ll likely be contributing to a fundraiser. Moreover, you’ll support a local business, and you don’t have to worry about storing the costume.
You’ll be saving money and not contributing to a waste created by purchasing a new single-use outfit.
Over the years, I’ve collected so many costumes that have been sitting in the back of my closet. I knew I’d never wear them again, but I didn’t know what to do with them.
I swapped them with my friends, attending a Halloween costume swap party.
This ended up being a fun night of drinking and dressing up. Best of all, everyone was set with the costume for this year, and we had so much fun we decided to do it every year.
If you have kids, you can also host a costume swap at school or daycare. You can turn this into a school fundraiser by charging a small fee per costume and donating the funds to the school or a local charity.
If you don’t think this will work in your kids' school or with your friends, you can turn to Facebook. Check Buy Nothing Groups or neighborhood Facebook groups, and ask if people want to post their available costumes and comment on those they like to reserve them.
Same as with the above ideas, you won’t be contributing to the waste stream by purchasing a single-use costume. You’ll also be avoiding fast fashion and all the waste it creates.
One final thing you can do is not focus on the costume at all. Instead, you can wear your regular clothes, and do something special with your makeup.
After all, makeup can transform you into anyone you want to be.
Check out Pinterest or Youtube videos for some inspiration. If you’re not that good at doing makeup, stick to something easier.
Or, you can get your friends together again and do cute or spooky makeup together.
If you’re like me, you have a full beauty bag of makeup. This is your chance to use it. You won’t be creating any waste, as there’s no need to buy anything new.
Now that we’ve got the costume, decor, and makeup all set, it’s time to talk about parties.
Here’s how to throw an eco-friendly Halloween party that everyone will be talking about.
Image: Quirk Madame
Take out your old sheets and pillowcases.
Start by printing out a tombstone template, and cut out the design with scissors. Place the template on a pillowcase or a sheet. Use tape, or grab the nearest heavy book to pin the corners, to keep the template in place.
Dip a brush in black paint and go over the fabric where you have stencils in place.
Let it dry completely and set it on your chair.
If you used a pillowcase, just put it on the chair back. If you used a sheet, tie the ends to the chair
You’ll be reusing your old sheets and pillowcases. This is something you can use on Halloween for years to come. Find non-toxic black paint, so you don’t have to worry about fumes.
Your dessert can also be a part of the decor. You can make Halloween dirt cups, which are chocolate pudding topped with Oreos, chocolate chips, and Belvita cookies.
I used a chocolate topping to spell RIP and make the Belvita cookie resemble a tombstone.
Ask in advance if your guests like chocolate, so everyone will be amazed and eat their dirt cup. You want to make sure there aren’t any food leftovers. Also, for extra effect, you can buy edible flowers and put them in front of the cookie. In this way, there’s no need to pick and waste flowers from your garden.
Image and idea credit: Woodlarkblog
These will be great decor addition no matter if you’re having an adult or a kid party, not to mention budget-friendly.
Gather some leaves next time you go out for a walk.
Cover them in black paint, and draw little faces with a white marker.
You can hang the bats on the chandelier or strew them across the table.
Use non-toxic black paint, so you can compost the leaves once Halloween is over.
One of the main reasons why I’m a Halloween freak is all the candy! I admit I’ve never quite outgrown the little kid inside that gets excited at the thought of all the M&Ms, Milk Duds, and Reese’s Pieces.
But, what’s left behind when all the candy is eaten? A pile of wrappers. Think about how much waste is created across the US with candy wrappers only.
Luckily, there’s a solution to this. Here are some eco-friendly Halloween ideas for trick or treating.
The Best Halloween Candy Deals
The first time I tried Alter Eco Salted Caramel Truffles, I was angry I hadn't discovered them earlier.
Get ready for some melty chocolate goodness. You get 60 dark chocolate salted caramel truffles in one pack. With these chocolates, you can enjoy as much candy as you want, guilt-free.
Last year, I used Alter Eco Classic Dark Truffles and those went away in minutes. Well, I must say that a fair share went to my belly. Honestly, I couldn't resist!
These truffles were insanely tasty. However, they're currently unavailable on Amazon.
That's why I'll go for Alter Eco Salted Caramel Truffles this year.
I've tasted them personally and I'm sure this one will be a big hit this year too.
The truffles are made with pure coconut oil, and the ingredients are non-GMO, gluten-free, and certified by the USDA to be organic and fair trade. This means the cocoa was sustainably grown, and farmers weren’t exploited.
Best of all, they have FSC Certified recyclable packaging. The truffles are all individually wrapped, and the packaging is compostable. Moreover, the box they come in is fully recyclable too.
The Best Halloween Candy Deals
Here’s another idea on how to have a more sustainable Halloween, especially if you’re a baking enthusiast such as myself.
You can bake your own candy, such as truffles, lollipops, cookies, rum balls, and use aluminum foil to wrap it.
These candy wrappers come in a package of 700 (so you’ll be set for several Halloweens). You can also use them to make treats and gifts more attractive for other occasions, such as Christmas and birthday parties.
The candy wrappers are made of food-grade material. This is environmentally friendly aluminum foil. It’s non-toxic and odorless. There’s also no color shedding.
These are safe for the environment and yourself, and they’ll make the treats you make more attractive.
This idea helps the environment in two ways — first, using homemade food is the by far the best thing you can do to preserve the nature, and second, you're using aluminum foil which are completely recyclable unlike the plastic counterpart.
Remember, our goal is to minimize the use of plastic as best as possible. So, using aluminum wrappers instead of plastic wrappers is a great move.
Apples are one of the main fall associations. However, they aren’t kids' first choice, especially when surrounded by all the candy. To incorporate them in your trick or treating and make them tempting to children, you can make what I like to call — poison apples.
To make spooky black apples, microwave corn syrup, granulated sugar, and water for about 5 minutes. Then add heavy cream, salt, vanilla, and black food coloring. Dip the apple in the mixture until it’s completely covered.
You can also go for caramel apples. They are a little less spooky but even more delicious. Even the most stubborn kid won’t resist an apple that’s covered in chocolate drizzle and crushed candy.
This idea is eco-friendly because there are no wrappers at all! Once the apple is eaten, you’ll have minimum waste. The only thing left behind will be the sticks, which can be used for composting.
The Best Halloween Candy Deals
Did you know most gums contain plastic? I was shocked too.
Here’s a more eco-friendly version for your trick or treaters.
This gum is made with a natural tree-sap base. Compared to traditional gum, it’s softer and has a more subtle flavor.
There aren’t any artificial flavors. The gum is non-GMO, vegan, natural, and biodegradable, which makes it good for you and the environment.
Also, it’s made in a Brooklyn factory. This means it won’t be shipped to you from across the world, which cuts down on pollution caused by transportation.
I recommend the grapefruit flavor, but feel free to check others as well.
There are few key things that I loved about these plastic free chewing gums. First, the gum itself is biodegradable and completely free from plastic. Second, the gums are made of natural ingredients rather than artificial flavoring agents. So, you can call it healthy and eco-friendly at the same time.
The Best Halloween Candy Deals
The foil these milk candies come in is especially decorated for Halloween. There are spiders, black cats, and ghost motifs, so it’s a perfect Halloween choice.
If you're looking for candies exclusive Halloween-themed treats, these candies are by far the best option you can find in the market.
Thompson Candy Co., the manufacturer is quite reputed and well-known for their festival-themed candies.
The milk candies are made from 100% natural ingredients. They are non-GMO, vegetarian, kosher, and gluten-free.
Moreover, all the ingredients are Fairtrade certified, meaning there’s no forced labor, and the workers are fairly compensated.
Also, the foil wrap can be recycled once the candy is eaten as long as there’s no food residue.
I’ve covered everything, from eco-friendly Halloween costumes to party ideas, so no more excuses. You, too, can have an eco-friendly Halloween.
Halloween is one of the most wasteful holidays in the US. If we all do our part, we can turn this around and still have a spooktacular (!) holiday.
Let me know in the comments below how you celebrate Halloween in an eco-friendly way. I’m always on the lookout for more green ideas.