How to have a green Halloween

18 Sep 2023
4 min read

Have a frightfully fun time without taking a terrifying toll on the environment. Halloween is great fun, but it’s also frightfully wasteful. Think about it: cheap costumes, novelty paper plates and disposable decorations all have a scary impact on the environment.

Here are a few handy ways to slash your waste this Halloween (okay, we’re done with the puns now):


Many of us opt for cheap costumes made out of non-recyclable materials that just end up in the bin.

The cornerstone of modern-day Halloween celebrations, dressing up is as integral to the 31st as figgy pudding is to Christmas Day! But many of us opt for cheap and cheerful costumes made out of non-recyclable material that are too flimsy to withstand the whole night, let alone another wear entirely. So instead of splashing out on another shop-bought costume that’ll just end up in the bin, why not try:

Swap Halloween costumes with friends to save waste
  • Renting one from a costume shop: they’re well-made and will set you apart from the usual fancy dress fare.
  • Creating a costume from items you already have: why buy a witch’s outfit if you already have a black dress hanging in your closet?
  • Swapping with friends: if you don’t want to wear last year’s costume, raid a friend’s dressing up box and let them do the same.


A lot of the decorations for sale are made of cheap plastic manufactured in sweat shops and factories in impoverished areas.

The shops are filled with stuff designed to turn your home into a horrifying Halloween spectacle, but a lot of the decorations for sale are made of cheap plastic manufactured in sweat shops and factories in impoverished areas – plus, let’s be honest, they look a little tacky. For maximum spooks and minimum environmental impact, try these ideas instead:

Halloween Jack o lantern with LED lights
  • Turn the lights out and rely only on a few lamps or candles to create mood lighting. Coloured light bulbs (energy-saving, of course!) create a real atmosphere and can be reused at future parties.
  • Get creative with jack-o-lanterns. A few ghoulishly-carved pumpkins, complete with tea lights (careful!), is enough to send chills up your guests’ spines.
  • Go for a pre-party walk and gather up sticks, branches, dried leaves and dead flowers. Scatter them around to create an atmosphere far more authentic and unsettling than brightly coloured smiling skeletons.
  • Got a few toilet roll tubes lying around? Cut scary ‘eyes’ out of them and put LED fairy lights or a torch inside, then place in bushes around your front door. Creepy!
  • Get the kids involved and spend the afternoon creating creepy decorations from arts and crafts materials around the house. Make hand-print spiders and turn old egg cartons into bats!

Trick or treat!

It took a while to gain popularity on this side of the Pond, but trick-or-treating is now a staple Halloween activity for little’uns. If you want to make your Halloween super green, hand out more sustainable treats than sweets, such as pencils, or raisins in card (recyclable!) boxes. However, we concede that this won’t make you the most popular house on the street, so try to at least avoid highly-processed, individually wrapped sweets. Go for Fairtrade, or try your hand at baking creepy cookies or monstrous muffins instead.

In the UK we needlessly throw away eight million pumpkins every year.

And make sure you send your kids out with a pillowcase or a reusable bucket to collect their haul, instead of buying new ones or using plastic bags.

Party supplies

Even though the stores are full of novelty paper plates and plastic cups, try to avoid the temptation to cave into spooky designs and use sturdy stuff than can be used again and again. If you absolutely can’t forsake the ghosts and ghouls, though, make sure there are plenty of recycling bags dotted around your party so guests can dispose of their stuff in an eco-friendly way.

Pumpkin pies for Halloween

Rescue your pumpkin

No Halloween doorstep is complete without a creepy jack o’lantern, plus lantern carving is a fun family activity. But spare a thought for ol’ jack once the holiday has passed – in the UK we needlessly throw away eight million pumpkins every year, with more than half of us binning the flesh after carving. Don’t contribute to the UK’s food waste mountain – bake a delicious pie or make a warming soup instead: the BBC has loads of pumpkin recipes ready to inspire you!  And don’t chuck your old lantern in the bin where it’ll end up festering in landfill – put it on the compost heap if you have one.


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