Low-Waste Halloween Treats


An autumn celebration of haunts, horror stories and treats, perhaps the scariest thing about Halloween is all the trash. But just because Halloween involves treats, doesn’t mean they have to be wasteful. Here are 5 low-waste Halloween treat and trick-or-treat ideas to help move toward zero waste.

Package-Free Treats. Apples! Whether harvested from a backyard tree or bought loose at a local orchard or grocery store, apples are a great autumn-themed zero waste treat. Oranges and clementines bought loose are also fun because of their visual similarity to pumpkins. For candy to eat at home, package-free treats such as candy corn, pumpkin gummies and chocolate can be found in loose bulk bins at grocery stores and specialty candy shops.

Treats in Compostable Packaging. Few large-scale candy makers offer candy in compostable wrappers. Two options I’m aware of are Alter Eco chocolate truffles and paper-packaged Pixy Stix. If you’re looking to give candy away to trick-or-treaters, other options are to buy package-free candy in loose bulk and then package the candy in compostable cellophane yourself. This is only advisable if your trick-or-treaters trust accepting non-commercially packaged treats from you. Otherwise, the candy and cellophane will go straight to the trash anyway.

Treats in Recyclable Packaging. Cardboard, cans and foil are all recyclable. Options packaged in these types of packaging include candy in cardboard boxes (Nerds, Whoppers, Mike & Ike’s, Milk Duds, Dots, Junior Mints, Glee Gum, etc.), drinks in aluminum cans (soda, flavored water, etc.) and foil-wrapped candies (Rolos, Kisses, chocolate coins, etc.). Recycle all boxes and plastic bags containing the individually-packaged items when done. (Note: Most curb-side recycling services do not offer plastic film recycling. Recycle plastic bags where accepted at speciality recycling locations.) Also, remind trick-or-treaters to recycle the cardboard, can or foil after finishing their treat.

Buy Non-Halloween Themed Packaging. Some candy makers offer special Halloween packaging. Although the shelf-life for candy is long, candy with packaging indicating a certain holiday is more likely to end up in the trash prematurely. This makes money for candy makers and waste for the rest of us. Opt for non-holiday themed packaging whenever buying packaged items.

Avoid Plastic. Giving trick-or-treaters plastic trinkets and toys is becoming more popular. Most, if not all, are of low quality and used for an unconscionably short period of time compared to the hundreds of years they will wreak havoc in our environment. For those opposed to giving trick-or-treaters something edible, low-waste options include eco-friendly items kids need like recycled newspaper pencils, upcycled crayons, bamboo toothbrushes, or special coin currency like “golden dollars.”