How to do a Zero Waste Halloween

Ditch plastics and wastefulness in Halloween. Go back to the simplicity of the season. Remember that you can make this not spooky for the environment, while still enjoying the eerie vibes.

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Ditch plastics and wastefulness in Halloween. Go back to the simplicity of the season.  Remember that you can make this not spooky for the environment, while still enjoying the eerie vibes.

Before we go decorate our homes for Halloween, let’s look back to the past. It will show us the essence of this day before capitalism commercialized this holiday. Let’s learn and understand the history to find what’s really important in celebrating Halloween.

Halloween, a History

Children most likely think that Halloween was about having to dress up to get free candy. But Halloween is way more than this consumerist holiday!

Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31. In the past, it is known as All Hallows Eve. It originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on this time, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.

When Christianity became a worldwide religion, the Pope changed the Hallow’s Eve celebration to shift to a more religious view. The Church created the All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day (Nov. 1 and 2, respectively) to commemorate all saints and souls of the dead. All Souls’ Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints’ Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day).

Trick or treating began from this tradition wherein people dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money. Despite a long period of time where it was banned, Halloween and trick or treating became a strong tradition amongst people, especially Americans. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats. In fact, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween. This makes Halloween the second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.

How to Do a Zero Waste Halloween

A zero waste Halloween celebration is first and foremost, about simplicity. Be creative with using fewer materials. Don’t be duped by advertising about difficult, colorful plastic decorations and costumes. We highly recommend you go minimalist in decorations and treats to have a mess-free Halloween.

Recommended Zero Waste Halloween Décor

First, a Halloween décor staple – the pumpkin. It is the ultimate in zero-waste Halloween decorations. Instead of buying plastic Jack-o-Lanterns off Amazon, buy some pumpkins from the market. Or pick one from your garden. If you don’t have a pumpkin, a gourd can also suffice. Have fun decorating them, carving them up into different designs – spooky or otherwise. After Halloween, you can just compost them or feed them to animals.

Spooky Creatures? It’s simple with a little creativity and your own old clothes.Make a ghost by stuffing a towel in a white sheet, tying with twine, and hang it wherever you want it to spook visitors. Make a creepy scarecrow with tattered clothing and a jack-o-lantern head. Google other creatures and have fun with old clothes and linen creating them!

Scary Lighting? Use old wine bottles, glass jars and cans. Paint them black and put little candles inside. Line your house or other places with them to create an eerie atmosphere. Better yet, reuse other seasonal decorations such as black and orange tree ornaments.

Want to play batsy? Cut out black paper bats and hang them upside down on a clothesline.

For your Halloween costume/s, go zero waste by a) shopping your own closet, or b) buying second-hand. First, you shop your own closet because you can mix and match clothes into tasteful outfits for any Halloween party or trick or treating. Or if you’re feeling too minimalist, just put on any comfortable clothes, and hold a knife – tada, a serial killer get-up!

If you want a costume not in your closet, opt for secondhand ones. Here, you have two choices: a) to rent or borrow; or b) buy from your local thrift store. First, a simple way to go zero waste is to use someone’s costume from previous Halloween celebrations. Swap clothes with friends and family.

If you want a new custome altogether, score great finds in your town or city’s second-hand shops. Prefer going online? Check out Ebay (filter for ‘pre-owned‘),or

There’s no need to blow your cash over Halloween decors or costumes. Nor should you go broke for treats to give to those who knock on your door.

Reccomended Zero Waste Treats

Candy? Get those in cardboard boxes because those can be recycled. Buy in bulk. Choose ones with paper-packaging like Pixie Sticks, Nerds, Junior Mints, Milk Duds. Or get ones with foil packaging such as Dove Promises or the classic Hershey’s Kisses.

But you can also encourage healthy habits by giving out fruits. Think small, handy, but juicy. You could go well with clementines, tangerines, apples, mini pumpkins, or Sun-Maid raisins.


Halloween, with all its commoditized decors, customes, and treats, might not be the first thing you think of as a ‘zero-waste holiday’. But it should be. Halloween, from its inception, was about simplicity and being down-to-earth. Let’s not forget amidst all the spooky cheer that this day is about remembering and respecting the dead and the supernatural. It’s not about the scariest costume or the sweetest candies.

To be able to conduct a Zero Waste Halloween celebration, you need to plan well. Ditch the plastic stuffs and go back to basics.

While we recommend some things to use in your Halloween celebrations, it’s still your call. We encourage you to be more eco-friendly by remembering to celebrate Halloween with the following principles:

  1. Keep everything (from decors to treats) minimal. It’s not only zero waste, but also a money-saver.
  2. Be mindful about what “treats” you hand out to kids and other people. You can do more with other treats such as fruits besides the usual candy!
  3. Dress in costumes that can be used again by others or yourself. If you need to get a new costume, buy secondhand.

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