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Four ways to have an eco-friendly Halloween

The National Retail Federation expects consumers to spend a record $10 billion for Halloween in 2021 (Prosper Insights & Analytics survey). Along with all of that extra spending comes something else.

Waste. Holidays generate a lot of it, including Halloween – with all of its costumes, decorations, candy and more.

But that doesn’t have to be the case.

There are dozens of ways to celebrate Halloween and still maintain your eco-friendly lifestyle. To get you started, here are four ways you can make a difference.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins in a patch

For pumpkins, the best way to lower your impact is to buy organic from a local farm. This reduces transportation-related emissions and the use of resources like water. In addition, local farms may be the best place to find a variety of interesting heirloom pumpkins and seasonal gourds for decorating. 

If you live in the city and can’t make it out to a local farm, check out a Farmers Markets of Minneapolis location near you.

Another, eco-friendly solution is growing your own pumpkins and picking them from your very own pumpkin patch! Not only is it gratifying, and fun, to watch your own pumpkins grow, but it’s also the most sustainable option.

Once you have your pumpkin and carve it, be sure to save and roast the seeds for a delicious, and nutritious, snack.

Did you know: The US Department of Energy estimates that more than one billion pounds of pumpkins are thrown out each year after Halloween. So, be sure to compost anything that’s left from your pumpkin to reduce waste and greenhouse gasses. (Just remember that candles, paint and other decorations aren’t compostable – include only your bare pumpkins in the compost.)

To compost, put your pumpkins in curbside organics recycling, yard waste, or simply leave it in your flower garden to decompose into nutrient-rich soil next year. Learn more about organics recycling and backyard composting.

Related Reading: 5 Fun Ways to Reuse Your Pumpkins After Halloween

Decorations

Skeleton statue waving at camera

Another way to celebrate a more eco-friendly Halloween is to reuse everyday household items for your decorations. For example, a quick Pinterest search for “eco-friendly Halloween décor” yields plenty of clever ideas – like making spooky bats out of toilet paper cores and construction paper, Halloween houses out of milk cartons, and friendly ghosts out of cans and ribbon. If you don’t have the items you need for Halloween crafts, hit up your neighborhood thrift shop before buying new.

Want to take it one step further? Create with the end in mind and make decorations you can either reuse next year, or take apart and recycle, after Halloween is over.

A final tip: think about the entire fall season rather than just Halloween. You’ll be able to continue using your decorations (think leaves and gourds) for the Thanksgiving holiday as well. This is a win-win because it’s less work and less waste.

Costumes 

Americans spent nearly $3 billion on Halloween costumes in 2020 (Statista). And unfortunately, most of them are worn for only a few hours.

The good news? It’s easy to have an eco-friendly costume if you’re willing to put in a little creativity or effort.

Make your costume

Hand made ghost costume

There’s one way to ensure you don’t accidentally wear the exact same costume as someone else. Reuse and reimage items you already have to make your own costume.

Look around your basement, attic, garage, or closets for things you can use. Maybe it’s boxes, sports equipment, clothing, fabric, or other household items. Then, let your imagination take it from there. For example, Grades of Green ideas recommends using an old bridesmaid dress for a zombie or an old yoga mat you were planning to toss for a slice of pizza.

You can also borrow items from friends or family members if you’re missing that one thing that finishes off your idea perfectly.

Another option is to check out local thrift stores, vintage shops or costume rentals to bring your idea to life (perfect for clothing, accessories and props of all kinds). For example, ARC’s Value Village just launched their Autumn Retro Collection – a reimagined costume shop that eliminates cultural appropriation and offers creative, discounted clothing and accessories. It’s available in all three of their locations.

And, if you’re not the super creative type, that’s OK. Pinterest is a great idea generator for eco-friendly Halloween costumes, like this adorable houseplant costume made from a box. 

Swap costumes

You can also swap costumes with family, friends and neighbors. For example, extended families can swap costumes among children based on size and the same strategy works for adults, too. This is a helpful way to share expenses and reuse what you already have.

You can also expand your swapping circle by including your friends. This can be as simple as asking a friend if you can borrow their costume from last year. Or, you can organize a costume swap party and invite all of your friends.

No matter how you approach it, you’ll be exercising your creativity while saving money and reducing waste.

Candy buckets

Kid smiling in costume holding candy bucket

Finally, here’s an easy one. Skip the store-bought plastic buckets for collecting candy and just reuse something you already have. For example, brightly.eco recommends using brown paper bags, pillowcases, totes, drawstring bags, or even backpacks instead of plastic buckets. Or, you can get some plain canvas totes, decorate them for Halloween night, and reuse them year after year.

The best part? Fewer discarded pumpkin buckets are sitting around in our landfills for years and years to come.

Start small, do what you can

As you’re planning this year’s Halloween celebration, we hope you’ll use one or more of these eco-friendly Halloween ideas. Just start small and do what you can. It gets easier and we promise it’s not the least bit scary (see what we did there?).

 

Now that warm weather has arrived – and with it, the desire to clean and declutter – this a great time to get serious about donating usable goods that are taking up space in your overcrowded home.