How to Have an Eco-Friendly Halloween: Tricks & Treats for a Greener Celebration

Kids celebrate Halloween with decorated pumpkins

One of the scariest things about Halloween is the amount of waste created for a single day. The National Retail Federation’s annual Halloween consumer survey revealed that total Halloween spending in 2023 is expected to reach a record $12.2 billion, exceeding last year’s record of $10.6 billion. 

According to the data, consumers are expected to spend an unprecedented $108.24 per person, and a record 73% of consumers plan to celebrate Halloween this year, up from 69% last year and 68% before the pandemic. It’s clear people are ready to have some spooky fun! While we think this is great news – we love any reason to get together – the amount of waste created for this single holiday is downright frightening. 

Between single use costumes, candy wrappers, and throw away decorations, we’re spending crazy amounts of money just for most of our purchases to end up in a landfill days later. Still, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the holiday, and we have a few tips to make it a little bit easier on your wallet and the planet. Read on for Passion Lilie’s advice for an eco-friendly Halloween!

DIY Leaf Garland

Eco-Friendly Halloween & Fall Decorations:

We get it – the first hint of cooler air has you ready to deck the halls with seasonal décor. Before you head to a big chain store and pick up mass-produced pumpkins, bats and skeletons, we have a few alternative ideas. For more eco-friendly Halloween decorations, we recommend shopping at a local farm. You can pick locally grown pumpkins, eschewing the carbon-fueled supply chain that brings pumpkins to big grocery store chains. You may even be able to purchase hay bales from the farmers to add to your autumnal setup. 

To put your pumpkins to even better use, we suggest turning them into Jack-O-Lanterns and using the insides for yummy seasonal snacks. Food52 has a great list of things to do with your pumpkin guts, including our favorite idea – pumpkin cheesecake bars! Making the most of your decorations and reducing food waste in the process is a great step toward an eco-friendly Halloween. 

One of our favorite fall activities is to take a walk and search for colored leaves to make a garland. If you have kids in your life, this activity is sure to be a hit! Collect leaves of all colors and shapes. When you bring them in, rinse each leaf and let them dry. Coat them with ModPodge to preserve the color and prevent them from drying up. When the leaves are ready, you can grab a strand of twine and tie them around the leaf stems at regular intervals. Voila! A cozy and cheerful homemade decoration to brighten any space in your house.

When the holiday is over and you’re ready to change your holiday aesthetic, we encourage finding an alternative to trashing the pumpkins. Pumpkins that head to landfills produce methane gas – a greenhouse gas that warms the earth even faster than carbon dioxide. For an eco-friendly solution, offer your pumpkins to local farms or zoos, where they can be used to feed animals. Pumpkins are also compostable – they’re made of almost 90% water, so they add moisture and nutrients to help other plants grow. Try smashing them into smaller pieces and using them as mulch in your garden for healthier soil and plants!

Children dressed in DIY costumes

Eco-Friendly Halloween Costumes:

When it comes to Halloween waste, costumes are a huge culprit for spending and disposal. Many costumes are made by fast fashion companies using cheap materials and poor labor standards. They last one night before ending up in the landfill. Our culture of consumption encourages buying cheap new costumes every year, but we can reject that notion in favor of an eco-friendly Halloween. 

Rather than buying new this year, try having a costume swap with a group of friends! See what costumes can be reused or upcycled. This could be a fun annual event to add to your Halloween festivities: turn on some music, have a costume fashion show, and have some eco-friendly Halloween treats!

Another great costume resource is your local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook. You can offer up costumes that are taking up closet space and ask if anyone has a costume in your size. The same is true for your local town or neighborhood groups. This is an excellent way to save money and reduce waste over the holidays. 

If you’re set on a specific costume, secondhand shopping may not be fruitful for you – and that’s ok too! A Hulk-obsessed three-year-old is not going to settle for dressing up as Iron Man, and that’s a fact. But there are ways to find eco-friendly Halloween costumes. We suggest checking Etsy for handmade, sustainable costumes, or crafting your own out of materials in your home! 

As with any clothing purchase, we always recommend you do some investigating around the brand you’re purchasing. Are they Fair Trade? Can you make sure the garment was made by someone being paid fairly in a safe work environment? Is the costume made of natural materials that won’t harm the environment? Make sure your values align with those of the costume brand before you tap that “complete purchase” button. 

Fair Trade and eco-friendly Halloween treatsEco-Friendly Halloween Celebrations

From the treats you offer to the container you collect them in, there are countless little decisions that can make your Halloween a little greener. While it may be easier and cheaper to grab a gigantic bag of candy from the grocery store, consider the packaging and production that goes into making it. Big corporations overproduce Halloween candy, causing it to go on sale and end up – you guessed it – in a landfill. This Halloween, seek out sustainable treats to give to your trick-or-treaters. Look for labels like Fair Trade, Non-GMO, and Organic. Packaging should be compostable or recyclable, and the people who made the treats should be treated fairly. 

Check out shops like The Natural Candy Store or Equal Exchange to purchase Fair Trade candy for your Trick or Treaters. Even big stores like Target are coming around, and you can find brands like YumEarth and MadeGood for eco-friendly Halloween treats there, too. 

If you’re interested in handing out something other than candy, we have ideas for that, too! We know you want something that’s allergen-free and inclusive, but also not made of plastic that will end up as even more waste. School supplies like pencils and erasers are always a big hit. They’re fun AND useful! You may be surprised how much kids like getting small fruits like apples or Cuties, too. They’re unexpected and delicious treats among the massive amounts of packaged candy trick-or-treaters will collect. Temporary tattoos come with a small amount of waste, but they’re typically made with vegetable dyes that are safe for skin and generally more eco-friendly than other Halloween treats. 

Your little trick-or-treaters will need something to carry all their loot from house to house. While it’s so tempting to grab a new bucket from the dollar aisle, there’s definitely an eco-friendlier option. Grab a reusable tote or even a pillowcase instead of purchasing something new. The kids won’t care what it is, as long as it can hold their candy! There’s no need to purchase another bucket that will end up taking space in the attic or in the trash on Nov. 1. 

This Halloween, let's embrace the spirit of sustainability along with the spooky fun. By making thoughtful choices in costumes, decorations, treats, and waste disposal, you can have an eco-friendly Halloween that's not only good for the planet but also fun for everyone who wants to celebrate.

Tote bags for an eco-friendly Halloween


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