Make it a Green Halloween


I love fall but Halloween is my least favorite holiday – and I don’t think it’s because I’m a scaredy-cat. As a family that works hard to avoid both sugar and single-use plastics, there isn’t much about this holiday to love. But we have a 6-year-old who adores it: skeletons, pumpkins, ghosts, witches, and especially candy. 

What’s a mom to do? Not all of us are cut out for DIY costumes made from pieces found in thrift stores. It’s a great idea, I’ve had it on my to-do list for six years now; it hasn’t happened yet for me. Here are the tricks I am going to try this year to make it a green Halloween. 

green halloween


Thus far, we have abstained from any Halloween decorations (much to my daughter’s chagrin). I love crafting but hardly ever find time for it. Here are a few crafts I may be able to handle:

Milk Jug Ghost Lanterns
We drink milk. We have permanent markers. We have tea lights. Bing, bang, boom! Draw a spooky or silly face on the clean, dry milk jug. Then cut a hole in the back and put a tea light inside. If you use the battery-operated kind, they will be reusable through seasons (just don’t forget to recycle those batteries when they ultimately die).

Tote Bags
Those plastic pumpkin buckets are festive, but they will also break the first time your kids playact Trick or Treating around the house. Finding a more long-lasting, non-plastic option is a good idea. If you want to be cute, get a plain cotton tote and paint it as a family project. If you’re a last-minute mess like me, reuse a shopping bag. Or a pillowcase. Or an Easter basket. No judgment here.

Locally-Sourced Plants
It’s decorative gourd season, so shop local, and get as many decorative gourds as you want! There are such a wide variety of sizes and colors, you can create any kind of display. You can personalize them by painting them. Best of all, they’re plants – you can compost them or at least rest easy knowing they’ll eventually biodegrade. Pro tip: if composting, chop them into smaller pieces first. 


There are a ton of factors to weigh when considering eco-friendly living and food choices. How are ingredients grown and harvested? How are the manufacturing facilities run? How is the product shipped? Because my family is focusing on reducing plastic waste, I will suggest candies that have more eco-friendly packaging, though other factors may not be as eco-friendly. 

Go Organic Fruit Chews
These win in both process and packaging. They are Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Certified Organic, made with Fair Trade-Certified sugar. The bulk candy comes in home-compostable, cellophane bags. This means even if you’re handing them out, you can feel better knowing they will eventually biodegrade (though much more slowly in a landfill than if in a compost bin).

Paper-Packaged Treats
We’re talking about the little cardboard boxes: Milk Duds, Dots, Nerds. Keep in mind, they have food residue on them so they are not eligible for curbside recycling. But unlike the cellophane wrappers around chocolate bars and gummy snacks, the cardboard will eventually biodegrade. Pro-tip: the aluminum foil around a Hershey’s Kiss may seem recyclable, but not in Hamilton County

Non-Food Handouts

Some of us are trying to break an addiction to sugar or participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. In these situations, one may consider stickers, rings, witch fingers, or temporary tattoos. These items are adorable and cheap, but often involve a lot of single-use plastics. And I know my kids play with them for five minutes and weeks later I find them clogging our robot vacuum. Here are a few other ideas to try:

The website I am linking to is not known for eco-friendly practices, but at least you have items kids will use and in a paper-based package that will biodegrade.

Shaped Erasers
Again, probably not ecologically created or sourced, but if it’s something your child will use, then that’s a win. I know I LOVED these things as a kid – I practically collected them.

Kids are back in school, so as long as it’s a No. 2 style pencil, this will get used. And isn’t homework more fun when you have pumpkins or ghosts smiling from your hand?

Final note: Some candy wrappers are collected and recycled by the Cincinnati Recycling and ReUse Hub, so be sure to check what they take before sending everything to a landfill!


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