Written by: Natalia Brown

Leading up to the big night on the 31st, Halloween is known to be the most wasteful holiday celebrated in the United States. Since nothing makes my skin crawl like unnecessary plastic waste, I thought I’d share share some earth-conscious, low-waste tips that could inspire you to reduce your impact without having to compromise on your spooky celebration.


Plan out your decorations with a fall harvest theme; think gourds, pumpkins, leaves, branches, hay and reusable wicker baskets! Autumn flora provide some of the most effortless, accessible decorations that can elevate the festivity of any space.

→ If you do some jack-o-lantern carving; be sure to save and roast the pumpkin seeds for some waste-diverting munchies!

→ If using edible food for indoor décor, re-purpose arrangements for a scrumptious meal after celebrating. You can whip up your very own take on a pumpkin-spiced latte, hearty seasonal scones, fall-inspired hummus, pumpkin and legume curry, or my personal favorite roasted side dish … the possibilities are endless!

→ Gourds used for outdoor décor can be composted after they’ve been enjoyed. The most sustainable way to discard inedible produce is to return those nutrients back to their source!


Each time a trick-or-treater knocks on your door, you can avoid the possibility of creating plastic pollution by offering candy packaged in recyclable single-serving cardboard boxes.

→  Although they may seem more sustainable; bulk candy or homemade sweets aren’t a good alternative because they could be unintentionally contaminated and are more likely to be discarded by your trick-or-treaters or their parents.

To divert any excess candy that you’re left with after the 31st from becoming landfill waste, look into candy buyback programs like this one that partners with dentists to send festive treats to overseas troops.

There are numerous reasons why many people seek alternatives to the conventional Halloween candy giveaway; distributing loads of individually-wrapped sugar-laden treats is not the best for our health or our environment.

→  Instead, you could hand out something more purposeful like themed erasers, colorful wood pencils, or reusable straws.

→  For a creative take on a healthier package-free treat, prepare clementines with little jack-o-lantern expressions drawn on the outsides!


According to the National Retail Federation’s projections, Americans will spend upwards of 8.8 BILLION dollars this Halloween.

That equates to over $80 per person … all spent on Halloween costumes or decor used for only one night.

→  If that isn’t enough to give you some holiday budget goosebumps, I urge you to consider the extent of unethical labor and plasticized materials demanded by consumers leading up to this one-time holiday. As consumers, we have a unique opportunity to exacerbate or reduce this unsustainable demand.

Here’s some inspiration to help you stay away from this fright-filled statistic:

→  Organize a costume swap with your friends, neighbors, or coworkers! Most families have a couple old costumes lingering in back of their closet that were only enjoyed for a couple hours. There’s no need to add new costumes into the waste stream or take on that expense when you potentially have several at your disposal.

→ Rent a costume! This is a great way to get more for your penny while contributing to the circular economy. Local theaters often rent out parts of their collections as a fundraiser for this very reason.

→ Create the costume you never realized you had! That’s right – there’s plenty of transformative Halloween potential in the clothes and accessories you already own. Put together a monochromatic look and add some creative makeup or statement accessories to bring your costume to life.

→ If you had your heart set on a particular costume idea, you can certainly find some budget-friendly, sustainable pieces by shopping secondhand. Contrary to popular belief, thrifting is far less scary than it’s often made out to be! For some inspiration, check out our Director of Sustainable Fashion’s collaboration with Goodwill to create this werewolf look.

Questions about how to minimize your waste footprint? Suggestions for future Trash Talk topics? Send them my way natalia@debrisfreeoceans.org!