Halloween decorations on display at Lower Court in the University Center on Oct. 26. There are many eco-friendly ways to decorate and celebrate this Halloween. (Bucky Yu/B&W Staff)

Tips for an eco-friendly Halloween


While holidays provide an opportunity for celebration and community events, they also produce a sizable amount of waste. 

Halloween is typically characterized by vast amounts of individually-packaged candy, spooky decorations and costumes. Aside from the festivities, the scary part of Halloween also lies in the amount of waste that is disposed of after the holiday. 

According to Hubbub, a UK-based charity, approximately 7 million costumes were thrown away in 2016 in the UK alone, which is the equivalent of about 83 million Coca-Cola bottles. This study does not account for decorations or candy wrappers, therefore the waste total is likely larger. 

Due to the vast amounts of waste that compiles with Halloween celebrations, The Brown and White compiled a list of eco-friendly Halloween festivities that allow for celebration without the harmful environmental impacts. 

Recycled-jug ghosts 

Empty water and milk jugs can easily be transformed into festive ghost decorations. A friendly (or scary) ghost character can be achieved by cutting off the bottom of the jug and drawing a face on the front using a sharpie marker. The decoration can either sit flat on an indoor surface, or a string can be attached to the top and hung outside for others to see. 

Pumpkin patch visits 

Trips to a pumpkin patch are a fun Halloween activity to enjoy with family and friends. There are many patches in the area to choose from, such as Grim’s Orchard & Family Farm and Seiple Farms. Emblematic of the fall season, pumpkins have a variety of Halloween-related uses. Used as both indoor and outdoor decorations, they can be presented as is, carved to create Jack-O-Lanterns or painted. After their decorative use, pumpkin seeds and flesh can be used to make treats and other dishes, reducing waste after the holiday passes.

Tin-can luminaries 

Recycled cans from soup or other canned goods can be used to create outdoor luminary decorations. By poking a hole on top and attaching a string, the cans can be strung to create intricate designs. To enhance the decoration, paint the cans with pumpkins, bats or vampires and attach small lights to each can for an eerie glow. When the wind blows, the cans will collide producing a spooky sound. 

Reused costumes

Have a costume you wore in a previous year? Wear it again or swap with a friend so you both have a new costume to wear. By not purchasing a new costume, not only will you save money, but you will also reduce waste if you choose to rid yourself of the costume after Halloween. If you feel your options are too limited, try hitting the thrift store to put your costume together.

Use a pillowcase for trick-or-treating

Save yourself the trip to the store and use a pillowcase or tote bag instead of a plastic pail. This is a super easy way to reduce plastic consumption while not hindering your trick-or-treating experience.

Donate saved candy wrappers 

If enjoying candy on or around Halloween, be sure to save the wrappers. Companies such as Terracycle accept donations of candy wrappers throughout the year, which they use to create new goods such as purses or umbrellas. 

DIY treats 

Instead of purchasing pre-packaged candy, make your own candy or treats. By avoiding the need to dispose of wrappers, less waste will enter landfills. Plus, recipes can be catered to individual tastes so there will be no treat you don’t like.

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