top of page
  • Jenny Hill

Enjoy Halloween More While Consuming Less

I love Halloween because it’s a holiday whose landmark color (orange!) brightens everything up at a time of year when it’s getting darker overall. I heard John Latimer, KAXE staff phenologist, report we are losing 6 minutes of daylight per day this week.

As a kid, of course, I loved Halloween for the candy. Now I try to eat less sugar and generally succeed. But for every fun size candy bar I do eat, I cringe at the amount of wasted wrappers. What’s fun about that? Costumes and even pumpkins themselves, the icons of Halloween, can become part of the giant swath of waste resulting from Halloween celebrations. This article outlines more of the pitfalls and some numbers covering post-Halloween waste.

As we like to say among Happy Dancing Turtle staff, sustainability is a journey. Each person and household has to decide what moves are appropriate for them. So if candy is a must for your Halloween to feel like Halloween, don’t skip it, but do check out some of the alternatives listed below. Small changes add up to big differences and it’s almost always worth trying new things.

Sustainable Ideas

Here are sustainable ideas in three Halloween categories.

1. Decorations

My yard features some pretty scary looking stuff this time of year including frost-damaged plants, bare branches from trees and shrubs, and mis-shapen fall vegetables. Put them together in an outdoor planter or festoon your mailbox and watch the ghosts and goblins line up!

I already mentioned the cheerful color of pumpkins. You can scary-them-up by carving, painting or attaching other decorations to them. When the Halloween uses are done, here are some more great ideas for re-using pumpkins including eating, more decorations, and homemade beauty treatments. And don’t forget to buy local pumpkins when you can–see some source ideas below.

2. Costumes

We’ve already talked about shopping your closet. Or try thrift stores and Buy Nothing groups. These are usually online groups specific to a community or area where the name of the game is to give away items. In the Northern Lakes area, the Buy Nothing Group of Pequot Lakes is quite active. Another avenue is the Buy Nothing Project, which has it’s own app. Learn more about the Buy Nothing Project and groups in your area here.

If you want to make something new, use up that old cardboard to become a pirate or an airplane or a butterfly.

3. Treats

Some options around candy include purchasing candy made with sustainable palm oil, donating excess candy, and avoiding plastic candy containers–like those plastic pumpkins! Instead, carry treats in re-usable bags or a good ol’ pillowcase. Candy alternatives to hand out might include homemade playdough or slime. For more ideas, check out this past blog post.

Seek Out Local Pumpkins

Here are some suggestions on where to get local pumpkins (and apples while we’re at it). In the Driftless region, Ecker’s Apple Farm is in Trempealeau, Wisconsin. Happy Dancing Turtle staff were lucky to visit both Ecker’s and Schwertel Family Farms in late September. Gilby’s Nursery and Orchard is a landmark in Central Minnesota, featuring both apples and pumpkins.

Halloween Spending

The National Retail Federation reports plans for per-person spending for Halloween averages out to $108.24 per person. Maybe you know you will spend nowhere near that amount. Maybe Halloween is the one time of year you splurge on extra decorations and treats. I’m not saying drain all the fun out of the holiday. Like any sustainability move, the best strategy is to make small changes, starting from right where you are.

And while we’re talking about spending, let’s look beyond money. Time is a precious commodity so if you can stay home and make decorations or shop your closet, it may be faster than making another trip to the store. While doing so, you may become wealthier in time with friends and loved ones. What ideas do you have to make Halloween more sustainable?


bottom of page