Published: Dec. 14, 2023 By

CU pumpkin on campusHalloween marks the beginning of the holiday season. However, the excitement of the holiday can make it easy to ignore zero waste and sustainable habits as you decorate and celebrate. Costumes are often bought specifically for the holiday and then never worn again. And candy comes in small, individually wrapped pieces, which produce much waste that is not recyclable. Halloween can be a time to celebrate and have fun. Yet, with some planning and intention, you can make choices that protect our environment. Here are ways to enjoy Halloween sustainably.  


  • Buy or make costumes from local thrift stores. Often, thrift stores bring out items specifically for Halloween, making it easy to find costumes. Shopping at thrift stores is also typically cheaper than buying a premade costume.  

  • If you’re not thrifting your costumes, buy reusable costumes like an animal onesie or other items you may wear again.  

  • There are also costume rental services, so you can get the exact costume you want without buying it for only one occasion.  

  • You can make your costumes. Homemade costumes often use cardboard, clothing you already have or scrap fabric. You can reuse or repurpose materials and spend less money on your costume this Halloween. 


  • Choose candy to hand out that has paper packaging (like nerds, pixie sticks, etc.) 

  • Choose candy with aluminum foil packaging (like Hershey’s kisses)  

  • Both paper and aluminum foil are recyclable, whereas candies wrapped in plastic are not. While it seems like a slight difference, so much candy is handed out and produced for Halloween that this subtle difference can have a significant impact.  

  • While making treats to hand out on Halloween produces the least waste, this may not be feasible for trick-or-treaters. However, if you're getting treats to hand out to close friends and family, make treats like cookies or homemade candy. 


  • Keep decorations simple. 

  • Instead of fake spider webs and plastic spiders, stick to the classics and put a carved pumpkin on the front porch. Pumpkins are entirely biodegradable, and it is fun to carve them with your friends or family. You can roast the seeds to make a delicious and nutritious snack.  

  • Choose better quality decorations that you can reuse each year. If you decide not to store your decorations for the future, consider donating them to a thrift store. 

  • Get creative and decorate your house using things you already own. Look for ideas online or plan a DIY night with friends. This way, you don’t have to buy anything new, and you don’t have to throw anything away after the holiday. 

The positive impact of a sustainable Halloween 

There are many habits you can choose to make this Halloween season more sustainable. As we continue to learn and become more eco-conscious as a community, we also continue to grow as individuals and figure out the impact of our actions. Advocating for sustainable practices goes much further than protecting wildlife and our environment. Being sustainable encompasses us and how our interactions with one another can impact our future generations and human life. When you end up composting your locally bought pumpkin, thrifting and reusing clothing or decorations, you benefit yourself, others and the environment.  

During this Halloween season, we encourage you to be mindful of how you can implement sustainable practices into your life. Sustainability can look like saving money and reducing waste when celebrating Halloween this year.