Your guide to the most sustainable Halloween | Wholesome Culture
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Some of us love Halloween for the quirky costumes and sugary candy, others for the decorations, and scary flicks. But one thing we probably don’t all love is the MAJOR amount of waste that comes with the spooky holiday. There are plastic candy wrappers, single-use decorations, mass-produced & plastic-wrapped costumes, lots of discarded pumpkins…. the list goes on and on. Plus, the festivities take quite a toll on our finances — it’s estimated that Americans spent up to $8.8 billion for Halloween in 2019. Pretty wild! We are in no way suggesting anyone ditch the costumes and treats. But by making simple changes, celebrating Halloween and living more mindfully can absolutely go hand-in-hand. And even in 2020 — while social distancing is at the heart of every activity — playing dress up and watching “Hocus Pocus” is absolutely not canceled! With some simple modifications, you can have a safe, spooky, and sustainable Halloween! 

Here are our top tips to keep in mind to celebrate the season of pumpkin-carving and candy-eating to have a more mindful and sustainable Halloween. 

Your guide to the most mindful and sustainable Halloween

Candy & Sweets

For us, eating something sweet and sugary is a defining part of Halloween. And we’re certainly not alone. According to Vox, the amount of candy sold during Halloween week weighs up to 300,000 tons. That’s 600,000,000 pounds (!!!). As you’d imagine, with so much candy comes wrapping, which inevitably leads to waste. 

But beyond the issues of trash, many popular Halloween candies also use animal-derived ingredients. For example, varieties of candy corn, starburst, and gummies are made with gelatin (an ingredient, typically derived from collagen taken from animal body parts). No, thank you. 

Eco solution: If you want to be extra gentle on the planet as you get your sweet tooth on — prepare plant-based Halloween baking recipes. You’ll skip the plastic packaging waste + animal-derived ingredients, and get all the homemade goodness! 

Here are four recipes on our Halloween baking bucket list:

Love a good old package of sugary treats? We understand. Here are some of our favorite vegan candies:

  • Smarties
  • Skittles
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Swedish Fish
  • Airheads
  • Dots
  • Twizzlers
  • Justin’s PB Cups

Other easy tips: Try to buy candy in bulk to help cut down on waste and remember to dispose of your wrappers properly in closed bins! 

Halloween Costumes

Especially in 2020, dressing up for zoom calls, movie nights, and whatever social distance activities you have in store— is something to look forward to! Between the outfits and makeup, it’s all so festive and fun. But it also can be, you guessed it, extremely wasteful.

The Guardian reported that Halloween was estimated to generate waste that was equivalent to 83 million water bottles in the UK last year — all from discarded Halloween clothing. It makes sense: inexpensive costumes that are worn once a year creates lots of trash. But the issue is not even just the outfits themselves; they’re often wrapped in plastic materials and come with plastic, albeit cute and quirky, accessories like feather hats, chunky necklaces, blow up swords, etc.

Eco solution: Thrift! Second-hand stores are great places to start your costume search. That way, you’ll give a pre-loved treasure a second life — and who doesn’t love the feel-good bragging rights that come with saying, “oh I thrifted this look!” Plus, we find that the best costumes are less about the individual pieces and more about how they’re put together. Don’t underestimate the power of a black dress, striped shirt, or even basic tee. However, if you do decide to buy a more classic “costume” from a store, you still have options to save it from going straight to the landfill come November.

1. Try investing in something you can wear more than once.

2. Gift it to a friend after you wear it.

3. Donate it (if it’s in good shape). 

Last note on costumes: makeup! If your current collection just isn’t cutting it for the epic look you’re going for, the best thing to do is buy something that you can use again. 

Here are a few vegan, cruelty-free makeup products that we love ALL year-round but are particularly fun for Halloween:

Crafts & Decorations 

Much like the costumes and candy, spooky decorations are integral to the spirit of Halloween. It’s hard not to get intrigued by the spiderwebs, creepy eyeballs, and silly skeletons. But so many of the decorations sold at stores are either very cheap or very disposable (or both), which means they very likely get thrown away after one use. 

Eco solution: Purchase evergreen decorations, aka decorations you can use every year come October. If you’re tight on space & don’t know where you’ll be able to store your decor, we hear you! We like Halloween candles like these skull soy candles from Etsy, so they’ll disappear after use!

Another eco-friendly option is to make your own DIY decorations and turn it into a fun craft day. Check out these DIY ideas with common household items: 


Last but not least — pumpkins! The classic fall ingredient is popular for not only baking & eating — but also carving and decorating.  NPR reported 1.91 billion pumpkins grown in the US went un-eaten. Instead we, “carved faces into them, set them aglow and perhaps left them to sit outside for days. And then we tossed them.” Yikes, talk about food waste!

Eco solution: If you’re excited to carve pumpkins and make pumpkin dishes, we are right there with you! Support a local business and pick your pumpkins at a patch or farm near you (here’s a good resource to find a spot near you).

After you carve, compost your pumpkin or donate it to a compost facility are both good options to at least save the landfill. You can also make use of your pumpkin by using the insides with a recipe like one of these.

The big takeaway for how to have a sustainable Halloween:

The best way to have a sustainable Halloween is to a.) take advantage of things you already have in your home or b.) shop for thrift store treasures. And if you do decide to buy something new — invest in things you can use more than once. Oh, and of course, be sure to dispose of waste that does inevitably occur during holidays mindfully. Happy Spooky & Sustainable Halloween! 🎃

Read more: Mindful and Sustainable Things To Do This Fall

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