With cheap, plastic decorations, bulk boxes of individually wrapped candies and chocolates in plastic, and even the costumes, Halloween (or, any holiday, really) definitely doesn’t spring to mind when you think of ‘zero waste’, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have one!
Yes, it’s totally possible (and not all that much more work) to have a zero waste Halloween!
With just a little tweaking, you can have the zero waste Halloween that your wallet (and planet!) will thank you for having.
Tip #1: Make Your Own Treats!
I figured I would start with the hardest tip, and then work our way down. The most environmentally friendly and most zero waste way to still have a kick-ass Halloween is definitely to make your own treats.
Obviously, you can’t pass these out at the door (well, you could, but I don’t think parents would let them eat homemade stranger candy), but if you’re having a grown-up party, or even just your own house party with your kids, this is an awesome tip!
Not only will you get to binge on healthier treats (since you’re buying all the ingredients you need, you’ll know exactly what’s going into them), but I’m sure your kids would love to help bake/create the treats with you. It’s a fun way to spend the day, and you get a reward for all your hard work at the end!
Another bonus of making homemade treats? You can literally make whatever you want! Not that into chocolate? Don’t make it! Really craving a rice crispy square? Get yourself some marshmallows (if searching for vegan ones, I recommend Dandies), and rice cereal and go at it. Want to try homemade chocolate? Go get yourself some cocoa butter and Silk (milk) and go nuts! Rather not eat typical ‘candy’? No problem! Get your bakers hat on, and whip up some cookies, brownies, or whatever other treat your heart desires. And, to make them festive, you could decorate them with the Halloween theme in mind!
The only limitation to the treats you create is your imagination!
If you want to make actual ‘candy’ at home (i.e. lollipops, hard candies like Jolly Ranchers, etc.) you’ll maybe not want to let the kids help with those. Those items require boiling sugar and that stuff gets super hot/a tad dangerous to work with, if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you want to give some of your homemade treats away (I only recommend doing this to people you know/who trust you enough to actually eat what you hand-make, that way your good intentions don’t end up in the garbage), you can get some jars/containers and decorate them simply before giving them away. Similar to the dry mixes some people give at Christmas. Do them up a little pretty, and people are sure to love them!
Tip #2: Don’t Buy a Single-Use Costume
My mom was always really big into Halloween, so maybe this was just my family, but some of my best Halloween memories consist of mix and matching clothes I already had to make my costume. Sure, we had to go buy Halloween make-up (weren’t gonna waste ‘the good stuff’) and maybe a wig, but the majority of our costumes growing up were homemade.
If you don’t want to wear your everyday clothes, check out past year costumes you already have, to see how you can give them a new life as something else, or, go hit up a thrift store (like Value Village), that may have some more specific Halloween-themed pieces. The trick here is to go through what you already have, see what your missing, and then either go get a few choice pieces to complete the look that can be re-used in the future, or change what your costume is, so you can use pieces you already have.
You could also keep a few things from your Capsule Wardrobe purge to keep specifically to wear for Halloween. This way, you won’t care if you have to say, roll it around in the dirt to get the specific look, (we actually did this one year) or cut some holes into it.
Or, you could just forgo the costumes if you’re not going out/not that into it. You could have a house party in your pj’s watching scary movies with family and friends, instead.
Tip #3: Buy In Actual Bulk!
If you don’t want to make your own treats, or you don’t have the skills to make one treat in particular that you just absolutely need to make Halloween special to you, try to get it at an actual bulk store!
Here in Canada, we have this place called Bulk Barn, and every year around Halloween, they have a few dedicated bins to Halloween treats. Foil-wrapped chocolates, hard candies, gummy worms with a bat decoration stuck to the bin, etc. Basically they slap a ghost or spider-web on some of their regular offerings and call it a day.
But this is still better than buying those boxes of big-name treats, because you can fill your own container* with the exact amount of treats you’ll need. So yes, this option still gives you waste (depending on what treats you’re buying), but it’s still better than getting a bunch of those giant cardboard boxes (that can’t be recycled! The dyes used to make those silly pictures sometimes prevent the cardboard from being recyclable), filled to the brim with plastic wrappers.
I recommend you go out and buy store-bought treats last, because it will create some more waste than the other options here, but if you absolutely feel you need to, then do it. Zero waste isn’t about denying yourself things you like, or feeling like you have to ‘give up’ things you enjoy, it’s about helping the planet and minimizing your environmental impact.
It’s also impossible to be ‘true’ zero waste in today’s society, so don’t worry too much about trying to be perfect. Everyone creates waste – the trick you need to remember is to create as least as you can, as often as you can. If you create a little bit more than usual once a year, there’s no Zero Waste Police who are gonna show up and fine you, or revoke your zero waste card.
So relax, and have fun!
*Bulk Barn has temporarily suspended it’s BYO policy due to COVID safety practices. Call/check your local bulk store to see if/when the policy will change back
Like this article? Check out more here!