Go Green This Halloween!

lighted candle near jack o lantern
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Growing up, Halloween has always been one of my favorite days. Each year I would get a new costume and happily indulge in my large pile of candy that I had collected by the end of the night. I would make use of my old costumes throughout the year because I always enjoyed dressing up, but for many people, dressing up in their costume is a one time thing. What happens to all of those unwanted costumes? Also, did you ever think about how much waste is created from giving out those individually packaged candies? The good news is, there are many ways that you can make your Halloween celebration a bit more eco-friendly this year.


Making your own costumes can be fun and much more resourceful! The first place to start is your closet. You might have a dress that would be perfect for a witch costume or an old shirt that you can rip into a zombie outfit. Once you go through your closet, then you can make a list of what else you may need to perfect your costume.

I didn’t experience the magic of thrift stores until I moved to San Francisco for school. As Halloween approaches, thrift stores stock up on costumes and accessories. You can buy pre-made costumes, clothes that you can use to DIY your own costume and plenty of dress-up accessories. They even have thrift stores for children clothing. We bought my boyfriend’s little sister’s costumes from Chloe’s Closet for the past two Halloweens. Last year we found a perfectly new, Disney Queen Elsa costume for $15 and this year we found her a perfect fairy dress for $6! This past weekend, while I was shopping on Haight Street for a denim jacket, I snapped a few pictures of the Halloween racks found in the thrift stores to help give you an idea of all the options that they have to offer.

IMG_0755One of the many costume racks at Buffalo Exchange, a thrift store located on Haight Street in San Francisco.

IMG_0757Goodwill had a large selection of both children and adult costumes.

That being said, now is a great time to donate or sell your old costumes to your local thrift stores. Check if you city hosts costume drives, where donated costumes are distributed to low-income families.


After a night of trick-or-treating, our tummies are full with candy and our garbage is full of…candy wrappers. Unfortunately, most candy wrappers are not yet recyclable or compostable, which makes it really difficult to find other sustainable treat alternatives. For safety reasons, we always throw out candy that isn’t safely packaged, so it’s not like we can just give a handful of gummy worms to each trick-or-treater to avoid plastic packaging. Also, I don’t want to be the party-pooper who gives out apples (even though I would love to get homegrown apples in my goodie bag). Handing out little Halloween toys and keychains will most likely end up in the trash, so what are we supposed to do?

The good news is Alter Eco chocolate truffles are packaged in biodegradable wrappers!  Alter Eco products are certified organic, fair trade, non-GMO , gluten-free and carbon neutral. The bad news is, because they are so awesome, they’re a little pricey ($45 for 60) aka 75 cents per truffle). If you’re willing to spend a little extra, this is a great zero waste alternative.

Here are some more affordable candy alternatives:

  • Boxed Candy– Since the packaging is made of cardboard, it can be recycled! Examples of boxed candy include Nerds, Dots, Junior Mints and Milk Duds.
  • Foil Wrapped Chocolates– Foil is also recyclable, so chocolate pumpkins, coins and Reeces cups would be another good alternative.
  • Mandarin Oranges– These are better to give out than apples because they are “sealed”. Draw little jack-o-lanterns on the peel to make them more festive!
  • Stationary– It’s true that pencils and erasers aren’t as excited, but they are useful, so it’s better than giving out small plastic toys.
  • Canned Drinks– I’m not sure how I feel about this alternative because I don’t want to give a little toddler a heavy can of juice to carry around for the night, however, a few different sources recommend canned drinks as they are recyclable. I would give out juices or lemonade rather than sodas for health purposes. Also, it would be better to give out the small cans, not full-sized cans because they can be heavy. If anything, I would probably give canned drinks to the big kids and save the candy for the little ones.
  • Fair Trade Chocolates and Candies– If all else fails, buy fair trade treats! There’s a large variety to chose from such as YumEarth Organic Lollipops and Equal Exchange Chocolates.

Pumpkin Carving

When it comes to picking a perfect pumpkin, it’s much more fun to go to a local pumpkin patch rather then just picking one up from the store. Not only does it make pumpkin picking more enjoyable, but you’ll be supporting your local farms. After you bring your perfect pumpkin home, its carving time! When you’re cleaning out your pumpkin, don’t just throw the insides in the trash, turn it into food! Toss your pumpkin seeds in oil and salt, then roast them for a tasty snack. You can also save the seeds to plant. When I was little, I would sprinkle my pumpkin seeds all around the backyard in hope that a pumpkin would magically grow (sadly it never worked since I never tended to them). You can save the pulp to make pumpkin pie or bake pumpkin bread! After Halloween is over, be sure to compost your pumpkin instead of simply throwing it in the trash!




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