Turning Halloween into a zero waste Hallo-green

Filed in Blog by on October 16, 2008 6 Comments
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zero waste halloweenHalloween is coming and the most ghoulish thing about it is all the disposable plastic items, not to mention kids hyped up on sugar and colourings.

In the shops today I spotted plastic faces, wrapped in individual plastic bags, costumes of every description made from polyester and nylon and, you’ve guessed it, wrapped in plastic, sweets and candies of every description, wrapped in bright plastic packaging and even plastic pumpkins!

I have to admit, here at Chez Green, we don’t make a big thing of Halloween, but I know some people who do.Β  So here are some ideas for a zero waste Halloween; please leave your own suggestions in the comments below!


REAL pumpkins please; no need for plastic ones when the fields are groaning under the weight of some majestic specimens.
Carve out your face, put in a night light and make some zero waste soup from the flesh and dry the seeds for edible snacks throughout the winter.


In my day is was a cotton sheet over your head with two slits for eyes, apple bobbing and that was about it. I’m sure we had a good time and didn’t need to go overboard with the disposable stuff!

Make a witches hat from a cone of black paper which can be composted or recycled after use or make your ghoulish costumes from old sheets bought from a charity shop or bagged on Freecycle.


Get hold of or make fabric trick or treat bags for collecting the loot. Make them from old cotton sheets or felt and forgo the plastic.

For sweet goodies for visiting witches and ghosts, read our sugar and spice page for inspiration. This week we saw chocolate lollipops in the Co-Op – they were wrapped in foil and came on cardboard sticks with no extra packaging – yipee!

Other ideas are to dry apple rings or better still, get busy with the knife now and make some apple faces to hand out.


Forget disposable plates and get out the real crockery. Use pretty napkins and throw them in the wash with your next load. Let the kids eat like grown ups from a properly set table by candlelight.

Alternatively make pumpkin soup and serve it in carved out mini pumpkins for the best of both worlds – no washing up and no waste; just give the ‘dishes’ to the compost heap to chow down on.

You don’t need to buy ‘convenience food’, Halloween fayre can be simple and homely – soup, home made bread, sweet potato chips with dips, pumpkin muffins and hot apple juice with a touch of cinnamon to warm through cold skeletons.

Do you celebrate Halloween? What will you be doing to ensure it is as zero waste as possible?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. Fabulous post Mrs G. We always have a ball at Halloween, do the decorating thing, the party and the dressing up. This year, we’ve got the decorations that we kept and put away from last year, including the spiders web. We’ve got last year’s costumes too…which we use all year round…and are still not bored with. We’ll be getting our pumpkin from a local farm, bigger and cheaper than from the supermarkets. I made pumpkin soup last year for the first time. It was a real treat, and using lots of spices made it even yummier! Also Pumpkin shaped biscuits are an easy treat to make, with a shape that’s simple to carve out even if you don’t have a cutter. ;-D xx

  2. This year we grew our own pumpkins! We’ll be making soup and pie with the innards of our pumpkins, carving lanterns and the hens will love the seeds – we don’t like them. Then the lanterns can go either to the hens or the compost.

    We’ve had fabric treat bags for ages that come out every year like Christmas decorations. We have a collection of fabric hats and I made us all cloaks for last year’s costumes. However, the kids have grown so DS has my cloak, DD has his and I have none. I need a new cloak…..

  3. dottyspots says:

    There’s some great make-you-own Halloween ideas on the Martha Stewart website: http://www.marthastewart.com

  4. Mrs Green says:

    Hey Mrs A; it sounds like Halloween is a real celebration in your home. I don’t know why we didn’t get into it; I guess we didn’t do much when I was a child, and that kind of sticks with you. LMG does like her carved pumpkin though, so I’ll get one this week.

    Sarah, I wanted to grow my own pumpkin too, but it just didn’t happen this year. Maybe next year as I’d like to get my own pumpkin seeds to eat. Good luck with the cloak hunting, or are you making one?

    Thanks for the link, Dottyspots; Martha Stewart never ceases to amaze me with her creativity. I think she’s wonderful and so resourceful.

  5. Anne says:

    My first tip is to not throw out candy if you kids collect too much. I help them eat it. πŸ™‚ Some goes to office coworkers, too.

    This might seem compulsive, but I have also been recycling tiny candy packaging if it’s composed of recyclable materials.

    Also, second-hand stores are a treasure trove for inexpensive, high-quality costumes that have only been worn once or twice. Next year, pass them on to friends or have younger siblings wear them.

    Similar to what Sarah said above, my kids use treat bags that my brother and I used as kids. If they hold up, I’ll pass them down another generation, too.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    Hey Anne, welcome to the site and I like your Compete to Conserve site πŸ™‚ Ah yes, there never need be any wasted candy when there are willing adults to finish it off!
    We don’t think you’re compulsive. There is an article on the blog somewhere about several of us recycling the tiny pieces of foil that stock cubes come wrapped in LOL!
    It’s lovely to think that you are creating a family tradition with the treat bags – a bit like a Christmas stocking πŸ™‚

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