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Green living

5 Tips for a Ghoulishly Green Halloween

jack o lantern with green smoke coming out


It's getting to be that time of year when the slight chill in the air turns into a chill down your spine. Gnomes, goblins, ghouls, and all sorts of other scary creatures start creeping onto your lawn and into your homes.

That's right, it's October!

With the start of this spooky season, many of you responsible waste management advocates may have been wondering: how do I make Halloween sustainable (and keep it festive)?

Never fear, The Sour Scoop Blog is here to give you 10 tips and tricks (or treats) that will help you have a Ghoulishly Green Halloween. Don't celebrate Halloween? Don't worry, many of these tips are applicable to any fall-themed gatherings.

Spooky season normally means spending season too, with U.S. consumers expected to spend $10.6 billion on Halloween this year. The majority of that $10.6 billion will go to costumes, while the rest will go to decorations (3.4 billion), candy (3.1 billion), and cards or invitations (0.6 billion). While that sounds like a huge number, it averages out to just over $100 per person.

Keep reading for 5 Green Halloween hacks that will help you be spookily sustainable (and save scary amounts of money too).

1. Pick Your Perfect Pumpkin

To Savor

While many people think of pumpkins as a rotting mess at the end of the fall season, there is value in having a good pumpkin or two (or 10 - if you want) in your yard or home this fall. Pumpkins don't only make good seasonal decorations, but they are also deliciously edible. Check out this list from culinary scientist Jessica Gavin on the variety of edible pumpkins and their uses in the kitchen.

In order to have your perfect pumpkin last all season, make sure to pick a pumpkin with a green stem that is not brittle, this ensures that it is fresh inside.

To Decorate

Also, if you are looking to carve up your pumpkin as a Jack-O-Lantern, there are several tips to ensure that you can keep your creepy faces around for as long as possible. The most important one, however, is to not cut into your pumpkin until a day or two before Halloween, so it can be fresh-faced to frighten the little princesses or pirates that come to your door.

2. Rock Climate-Friendly Costumes

The costume is arguably the most important part of the Halloween tradition, supposedly traceable back to the Celtic Tradition of Samhain. In these more modern times, however, costumes have also become the most expensive, and wasteful, feature of Halloween.

According to Recycle Nation, the U.S. generates about 25 billion pounds of costume textiles each year, or 82 pounds per U.S. resident. The 15 percent of clothing that gets donated or recycled amounts to 3.8 billion pounds, or 12 pounds per person, while 21 billion pounds become textile waste. However, there are various things you can do to reduce your costume waste.

Preloved Prevails

Wear some Halloween hand-me-downs to reduce your waste. To find the perfect secondhand scare for you (and reduce your carbon emissions), organize a costume swap between other families in the area. This way no child wears the same costume two years in a row so they get variety and you get sustainable holiday fun.

If that doesn't work for you, check websites like Facebook Marketplace for gently used costumes near you.

DIY Does It

Another way you can ensure sustainable Halloween costumes is to DIY them. Try to use sustainable materials in your Halloween costumes. Let your child be creative with cardboard, and don't be afraid to use your imagination to make your Halloween costume creepy and whimsical.

Upcycling your clothes into costumes is a great way to increase the lifespan of your costume and your clothes! To learn more about upcycling, check out another The Sour Scoop.

Essentially, upcycling in this context is to style your existing clothes in new ways. An obvious example of this would be wearing a flannel and a winter hat to be a lumberjack. A more exciting example would be taking your broken umbrella and cutting it in half, taping those halves to a zipper jacket, and being a umBATrella.

How complicated you make your costume is up to you, just remember to have fun even if you don't look exactly how you were planning!

Materials Matter

If your costume is only available off the shelf, or you are just terrible at DIY, you can ensure to find costumes in the right material. When picking new costumes, try to find some that are more cotton-based rather than polyester or acrylic. Polyester and acrylic both take about 200 years to break down and produce a large amount of water-contaminating microplastics.

Looking for where you can buy sustainable Halloween costumes? Check out Primary, a kid's clothing brand that goes back to the basics for both its fabric materials and its sustainable packaging.

3. Turn Your Fall Leaves Into Decor

With the change in the weather comes a change in the leaves. They float from the treetops down to your driveway where you crunch on them on your way out the door every morning.

Did you know that leaves could become art? That's right, they could become garlands (for both indoors and outdoors) that bring outdoor fun into your home! @scraps.and.coffee. grounds on Instagram is the account behind this genius idea. The fall decor tip can also be a family-friendly craft, so don't forget to include your little ones in the festive fall activity!

Scraps and coffee instagram post how to have an eco friendly Halloween

Leaf Garland Instructions:

When the leaves start to fall, if you find particularly full or funny-shaped leaves, bring them inside. Then preserve them so they will stay dry but not crumble or rot. There are many different methods of drying and preserving leaves (some more sustainable than others) and we here at Sourgum Waste recommend using the wax paper method.

Once the leaves are fully preserved, it's time to customize! Eco-friendly liquid chalk markers can help you create bold and beautiful designs. Also, plastic-free glitter can be a great way to add some sparkle to your decorations. If you want to make your designs a bit more on the spooky side, string them together in the shape of spider webs or paint them completely white and add glow-in-the-dark painted eyes to make floating ghosts.

4. Source Sustainable Treats (No Tricky Plastics or Pollution)

Candy is another important part of the Halloween tradition. Unfortunately also produces a lot of plastic waste.

However, companies are beginning to see the impact their mini-wrapped candy bars are having on the environment. Some brands like AlterEco have eco-friendly wrapping for their products that are the perfect size for handing out on Halloween. Others, like Nestle and Mars Wrigley, have certain products available in eco-friendly packaging and are committed to becoming more eco-friendly.

Here is where most blogs would tell you to hand out fresh fruit... we're not most blogs.

Want to ensure your candy is ethically sourced? Check out these options from Thrive Market (you can sort your candy by ingredients and ethical concerns)!

5. Decline The Door-To-Door, But Don't Pass Up a Party

If you are really anxious about the amount of waste your Halloween festivities will create, skip the trick-or-treating and invite your friends, neighbors, and children's classmates for a creepy costume party instead.

The best reason to have a party rather than trick-or-treating is the fact that you save money and reduce plastic waste by having a lot of DIY opportunities that would not be available to you if you were just handing out candy.

Planet-Approved Decor

For tips on party supplies and decor, check out our blog post on eco-friendly football. There are a lot of tips as to where to find sustainable party supplies in that article.

If you don't feel like reading through the football part, here is the main point of the sustainable decorating section: websites like Amazon offer a selection of eco-friendly party decorations for any occasion. On this website, you can even choose to shop by color so you have everything you need to host a monster ball with either compostable, 100% recycled paper, or felt-cloth decorations.

Also, look in places you wouldn't normally check, like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, or Craigslist, for some locally sourced pre-loved decorations you can upcycle or use as-is. This option is also a great money-saver, as you can likely negotiate already low prices.

Eco-Friendly Bites

The best part about having a party, especially a Halloween party, is the food. There are a lot of ways to make your food fun, frightening, and fit for a feast. Here is an example of Halloween food for everyone and for a mostly vegan feast. You can even have some of your guests make these dishes with you, as a personalized treatment for everyone to enjoy making.

In these uncertain times, it makes sense to not allow your child to accept unwrapped food from a stranger on Halloween. Hosting a party where you invite all of your friends, neighbors, and children's classmates allows you to make sustainable and ethically sourced food within your own home (that way you know it's sustainable and healthy... because you made it!)

Bonus Tips

Another fun activity you can do with your party guests is sustainable crafting! Check out this list for some inspiration on various types of sustainable Halloween crafting.

You can subtly encourage your guests to be more sustainable party-goers. For instance, try having a costume contest for the best homemade costume, or challenge your guests to bring homemade treats rather than candy bars or other wrapped treats. This way you can ensure you have an even more sustainable Halloween party.

Overall, the most important thing to remember is to make sure you have fun as you practice sustainability. Make memories and enjoy, don't worry about the impact of your particular occasion. Reducing your waste might not seem like a big accomplishment compared to others who are completely waste-free, but every bit of waste not produced is waste that does not harm the planet!

Looking for environmentally friendly waste services?

Sourgum Waste not only provides you with the best service at the best price, but we are also committed to sustainability. We divert waste from landfills whenever possible and plant a tree for every order placed through us.

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