This year, seven in 10 Americans plan to celebrate Halloween, with the average consumer spending $72.31 on decorations, costumes and candy, according to the National Retail Federation.
With all the effort and money that kids, teenagers and even adults put into everyone’s favorite spooky fall holiday, why not try to make your Halloween a little greener? We’ve rounded up five ways to bring environmental responsibility to your holiday – without putting a damper on the fun.
1. Choose reusable décor
Decorating your home to attract trick-or-treaters or for the perfectly ghoulish Halloween party doesn’t have to take a toll on the planet.
When purchasing decorations, choose high-quality products that you can pass down to your family through generations, instead of single-use, disposable décor: a handmade cloth Halloween banner that you can use year after year, rather than a disposable plastic banner, for example.
Or forgo store-bought decorations altogether and use fall’s bounty to garnish your home: autumnal leaves, apples, pumpkins and gourds. These natural items can adorn your house through Thanksgiving and are compostable when these two fall holiday are over.
And instead of buying a new plastic pumpkin basket each year for the trick-or-treater in the family, purchase a quality loot bag that your child can proudly carry yearly as a tradition. You can also repurpose a pillowcase, backpack or shopping bag you already have, and have your child decorate it. Or follow TerraCycle’s instructions for making a unique trick-or-treating tote from old food and candy wrappers.
2. Score a secondhand costume
Buying a costume in a bag isn’t just eco-unfriendly – the single-use attire comes wrapped in non-recyclable plastic packaging – but it’s also frighteningly uncreative.
Head to your local thrift store and see what costume you can assemble with secondhand pieces: Grab a poofy dress and be an ‘80s prom queen or find a suit to parody your least favorite politician. Check out these other costumes ideas from the Goodwill stores in New Jersey.
And while it may seem way too early to think about next year’s Halloween, hang on to this year’s costume and plan to trade it for a new-to-you outfit during next year’s National Costume Swap Day. If there are no local events planned for your area, register to host one yourself.
3. DIY your costume
Handy with a thread and needle or a set of power tools? Show off your DIY skills – and conserve resources – by making your own Halloween costume this year. Instructables.com’s special Halloween section features a wide range of costume ideas and instructions, including a simple sewing pattern for a Smurfette costume and detailed directions for zombie make-up.
Or dig through your recycling bin to create a one-of-a-kind kids’ robot costume. All you need is cardboard boxes, an old CD, yogurt lids, plastic bottles and these simple directions from TerraCycle.
4. Give out greener goodies
Sure, individually-sized, plastic-wrapped candies aren’t the most eco-friendly – or healthiest – treat to give out on Halloween, but do you really want to spoil the neighborhood kids’ fun by doling out sugar-free gum or dimes?
Maintain the sugar high while making sure your sweets are both good for the environment and for farmers. Look for candies certified as organic – like YummyEarth’s organic lollipops – and for chocolates that are both organic and fair trade – such as Bug Bites, organic and fair trade chocolate bites. You can also check out the Rainforest Alliance’s list of sustainably-produced chocolates.
5. Get crafty with your candy wrappers
Because of their small size, low weight and mixture of materials, candy wrappers are difficult to recycle. But never fear – you don’t have to toss your candy wrappers into the garbage bin on Nov. 1.
Turn trash into treasure by signing up for TerraCycle’s candy wrapper brigade: You send in your old candy wrappers and the upcycling company transforms them into new products like messenger bags. For each shipment of candy wrappers, TerraCycle will contribute 2 cents to a charity of your choice or award you with points that can be redeemed for charitable gifts.
Aim to collect around 100 wrappers before boxing them up – in a box no larger than the size of a copy paper box – and shipping them off to TerraCycle. If you can’t hit that target after a successful night of trick-or-treating, pool your wrappers with those of your neighbors, co-workers or friends.