Whether you're five or fifty, Halloween is for everyone. The elaborate costumes, the spooky music, the decked-out houses, but most importantly: the free candy! Children walk around with their orange pumpkin treat bags, getting adoration and handfuls of candy from adults in the neighborhood. 

Halloween should be an extremely fun-filled holiday, full of surprises, trick-or-treating, and a sugar rush. However, it has become increasingly commercialized, resulting in excess waste through single-use candy wrappers and decorations. That being said, Halloween must go on! Follow along for "An Environmentalist's Guide to Halloween" to make your Halloween a little more pocket and planet friendly this year!

Say No to Single-Use Candy Wrappers

Unfortunately, most of the bagged candy we purchase at popular stores like Walmart, Target, and CVS are individually wrapped in non-recyclable wrappers. This means the wrappers likely end up in landfills where they emit methane gas (a gas about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide).

In an ideal world, we would give out unwrapped candy bought in bulk. However, with COVID-19 and hygiene issues, wrapped candy is the safest way to go. If you can find it, try buying wax, paper, or foil-wrapped candies.

Here are some popular candies that come in these wrappings:

- Easy-to-recycle paper boxes: Nerds, M&M’s, Junior Mints, Skittles, and Dots

- Wax/paper wrapping: Werther's toffees, salt water taffy

- Foil wrapping: Hershey's Kisses, small Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

You can also make goodie bags for children using paper bags filled with loose candy and other small snacks like dried fruit, seeds, and perhaps some toys like wooden puzzles and paper notepads. You can even ask the kids to help decorate the outside of the bags with Halloween colors and characters! The goodie bags would also double as a fantastic giveaway idea for a Halloween party.

If you are hosting a Halloween party this year, try to avoid wrapped candies entirely. Buy loose candies from Sprouts or Whole Foods, or make your own Halloween treats like ghost cupcakes and pretzel wands! You can find plant-based options here!

For snacks, you can buy huge bags from Costco or other bulk stores and pour them into bowls for easy snacking! If possible, try to avoid single-use cutlery, plates, and cups. Instead, opt for reusable ones, and if you don't have any, encourage people to bring their own! Otherwise, try buying biodegradable and compostable crockery instead. 

Say Yes to Edible Decorations

Carved pumpkins are a great way to spice up your Halloween decor this year! You can purchase them from Walmart for about $3.00 a piece—a relatively inexpensive but festive way to decorate your house. Pick some fun designs and carve away—but please mind your fingers! You can even put an electric tea light inside each pumpkin to illuminate your spooky designs! 

While carving your pumpkins, save the flesh and seeds in a small container and repurpose them for a festive fall treat! Here are some homemade recipes for Halloween using leftover pumpkin flesh and seeds. Once you're done with your pumpkins, you can even use them as planters! 

Another cheap and sustainable decor idea is making DIY designs out of arts and crafts supplies you already have at home. Use those leftover Amazon boxes to make skeletons and tombstones! Remember those pipe cleaners from the fifth-grade art class? Make them into DIY spiders! The crazier the color, the better! You can even create ghosts out of old bedsheets and draw on some spooky eyes with a Sharpie. Or put some bloody handprints on the window using red non-toxic acrylic paint. 

You can even thrift Halloween decorations! Most thrift stores likely have a home section with decorations like lanterns, trinkets, mirrors, and dolls—the creepier, the better! Old apothecary bottles can also be repurposed as fun drinking glasses for a Halloween party to feel like you're drinking a mysterious potion. 

I hope these tips come in handy this year and help you and your friends and family throw a fun-filled and sustainable Halloween. Check out my page for more eco-friendly tips for upcoming holidays!

Happy spooky season!