Tips for a Low-Waste, Low-Risk Halloween

TerraCycle Include USA ZWB
The scariest thing about Halloween isn’t the ghosts, or goblins, or ghouls. It’s the amount of waste generated in celebration of the holiday. From the literal tons (300,000 to be exact) of candy we purchase, individually-wrapped in single-use plastic and often times thrown out before it’s eaten, to the mass amount of decorations big box stores put on display as early as July, we have a Halloween consumption problem. Don’t get spooked yet though! As the St. Louis City Mayor announces Halloween is not canceled, the city has released official guidelines for a safe Halloween. Read on to see our tips for a low-waste holiday.

Tip 1: A Better Halloween Costume

Skip purchasing a brand-new Halloween costume this year and create your own from pieces you already have. Not the crafting-type? See what your friends or family might have in their closets, and arrange a porch drop-off/pick-up. The city is not recommending shopping in-store for costumes, so try calling local thrift stores instead to see what they might have and arrange curbside pick-up (small businesses could use some love). If you do end up purchasing something new, recycle the packaging (if possible) and donate the costume afterward if you don’t plan on re-wearing it. If the costume’s condition is beyond another use, stop by Remains, a local clothing and textile recycling business. Your costume deserves the chance at an enjoyable afterlife, not one trapped haunting a landfill. Don’t forget your reusable face mask!

Tip 2: Earth-Friendly Treats

Most Halloween candy comes individually wrapped in single-use, nonrecyclable plastic, and with Americans having spent roughly $2.6 billion on candy in 2018, that adds up to a lot of plastic waste. Consider passing out a more sustainable option this year. Hershey’s Kisses come wrapped in tin foil and Milk Duds, Junior Mints, and Dots come in cardboard boxes. You could also hand out canned beverages or oranges as another more eco-friendly option as well. As the city asks residents to leave individually wrapped treats out, use paper bags instead of plastic. If you’re wondering what to do with the post-Halloween accumulation of candy wrappers, check out TerraCycle’s recycling program.

Tip 3: Compost Your Pumpkin

1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins are thrown out each year once Halloween has passed. Most of them end up in landfills where they decompose, producing methane, and contributing to climate change. Instead of just trashing your pumpkin, repurpose it! Eat the seeds, make a soup or veggie stock, bake pumpkin bread, or even just compost it in your own backyard. Critters like chickens and squirrels love the tasty treat too.

Tip 4: Decorate DIY-sely

We all know Halloween decorations get cuter and cuter each year, with every Target trip resulting in “just one more” fire mantel addition. However, they aren’t always very sustainable.   If you are looking to shop for new decorations this year, try to shop second-hand first. If shopping new, purchase items you know will last year after year, and before making a purchase, ask yourself if it’s something you really want to add to your collection. Investing in a few well-made decorations is ultimately better than having to repurchase new ones each time Halloween rolls around. Another great option? Nature! Display pumpkins and gourds that can be composted or used for baking once the holiday is over. Leaves, twigs, fall flowers, and hay bales make for great inclusions too.

Tip 5: (Ding-Dong) Ditch the Treat Bucket

Skip the plastic treat bucket this year, and instead use a pillowcase or reusable bag to collect candy with. You’ll save yourself money and you’ll have something that can last you through the years!   Ready to make this Halloween the safest and most spooktacular yet? Try out some of our tips above and tag us in your low-waste Halloween tricks on social media. Remember to social distance, wear a mask, and practice proper handwashing. Happy Halloween from our team to you!   @stlouisearthday