5 Ways to Make Your Halloween More Sustainable


 - By Kailey Bradt

5 Ways to Make Your Halloween More Sustainable


Between the plastic wrapped candy, polyester costumes and carved pumpkins, Halloween generates a lot of waste. These facts about Halloween waste might even be scarier than the holiday itself! We’re sharing alternatives so that you can celebrate more sustainably this Halloween.


It’s estimated that Americans spend $2.63 billion dollars every year on plastic decor for halloween- yeah just plastic decor. As you can imagine, a lot of it eventually ends up in a landfill. 

Fortunately, there’s tons of great ways to decorate in a sustainable way!

  • Bring the outdoors indoors- autumn leaves, pinecones, acorns (+ compost when you’re done).
  • Have fresh flowers? Hang them upside down to dry and use them as decor. 
  • Food as decor? Why not. A basket of apples, squash and other fresh produce from your fall harvest makes a cute (and tasty) centerpiece.
  • Still cannot get over having traditional halloween decorations? Shop secondhand!


Every year about 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins get thrown away after Halloween. The good news is that pumpkins are usually sourced from US farms, making them easy to buy locally at your farmer’s market. Additionally, they are easy to dispose of without sending them to a landfill. If using your pumpkin for decor, try cooking it when you are done. If you carved it, try to compost it! Find some compost programs for pumpkins here! If composting isn’t an option, you can also leave your pumpkins in your backyard or a wooded area for the wildlife to feast on! Be sure to smash the pumpkins if carved so that animals don’t get stuck!


Almost a requirement for Halloween- costumes. Polyester and other synthetic fabrics are made derived from- take a guess- petroleum. Then, costumes can end up in a landfill. In the UK, it is estimated that 2,000 tons of Halloween costumes are thrown away every year (most of them polyester). To put that into perspective, that’s equivalent to about 83 million plastic water bottles and that’s only in the United Kingdom! You can help save the planet and your money by putting together a costume with items already in your closet. You could also thrift your costume, organize a costume-swap, or wear an all-black outfit and get really creative with your makeup and hair. You can find more ideas on our Pinterest and Tiktok. 

Here are some ways to reduce Halloween Costume Waste when looking for a costume:
  • Shop secondhand
  • Ask a friend or family member for that missing item for your outfit
  • Purchase items for your costume you’re sure to wear again
Here are some ways to reduce Halloween Costume Waste when you’re done with a costume:
  • Swap your costume with a friend when you’re done
  • Gift your costume to a friend when you’re done
  • Resell your costume on a platform like ThredUp, Poshmark, Depop or Mercari


Don’t blame the candy (because who doesn’t love a little extra sugar to kick off the holiday season)! As you’ve probably guessed, the waste is the packaging! The average trick-or-treater generates 1 lb of trash and when you multiply that by the millions of children that trick-or-treat every year, you a pretty shocking number. Unfortunately, a lot of communities don’t allow baked goods or bulk candy to be handed out for safety concerns, so consider giving out items packaged sustainably.
What to look out for when shopping for Halloween Candy (and other goodies):
  • Opt for candy packaged in paper. Even if the paper doesn’t get recycled, it’s biodegradable!
  • Not handing out candy? No problem, hand out other treats packaged in recyclable packaging like sparkling water in an aluminum can.
  • Other alternatives to candy- crayons packaged in paper!

Trick-or-Treat Bags

Americans toss out 100 billion plastic bags a year. Every year thousands of children use plastic bags for trick-or-treating, but there are better alternatives. Some options include 100% cotton pillow cases or a reusable cotton tote bag. Cotton only takes a few months to decompose while a plastic bag can take 10-20 years to decompose.

Image: Hannah Thornhill for Susteau