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Imagining A Waste-Free Halloween

I wouldn’t say that we’re boycotting Halloween. That would be mean to our children. I’m not that much of a stick in the mud.

But here are some practices that we’re not taking part in this year, because they’re terrible for our environment. And I’m pretty sure my children would appreciate having a clean environment, over a few of the things we intend to sacrifice. 

  • We’re not buying candy to give out. It’s not that we’re stingy, it’s more that buying hundreds of tiny little candies wrapped in single-use plastic that will be discarded within a few days to end up in landfill or worse, is not a good idea. This year we’re opting out. Yes, we could give out raisins or other items, but our kids are still young and honestly by the time we come back from seeing the neighbourhood, it’s time for bed anyway.
  • We made our own costumes. Well, Laurie did. Her grandmother taught her the art of resilience as far as making garments, and she’s used that gift almost every Halloween. The kids still wear outfits that were made for them from prior Halloween’s, and they will last for years to come. They are also using cloth bags for trick-or-treating, the same ones they’ve used for years.


These are seemingly small things, but they have an effect.


Why are we doing this? There’s no denying the negative environmental impact Halloween can have on our environment. It’s almost the epitome of abusing single-use plastic. And it’s not slowing down. The emergence of the pop-up Spirit Halloween is testament to the popularity of the retail opportunity. And I can’t fault Spirit Halloween for seizing this opportunity—they donate to some very worthy causes with their proceeds—but this is not about that. This is about reckless waste. 

Think about it when you walk into one of these stores. Nearly everything on the shelf is made of plastic, and wrapped in plastic. Where do you think all that stuff goes? Likely landfill, because it’s likely that nearly none of it is recyclable

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of Halloween. I remember dressing up and going out as a kid and it was a lot of fun; I wouldn’t want to deny my children of those experiences. But we are trying to scale back on activities that are inherently bad for our environment, while also rally against blind consumerism that sets us into a mode of defaulting to buying garbage to make more garbage. 

Also, candy is bad for us


Reimagining Halloween

If we got to the point of Halloween being less about getting candy and more about dressing up in something you put effort and energy into as a great excuse to get out and meet your neighbours—then  that would be more fulfilling. 

We don’t see any of our neighbours up the street other than on Halloween. Imagine if there was no expectation for candy, but rather a chance to introduce ourselves and show them the types of things that interest our kids, as well as provide an opportunity to exercise our creativity… that sounds like a win for everyone. 

By the way, we will still go out trick-or-treating and the kids will likely collect candies that are inevitably going to be wrapped in single-use plastics. Some things you just can’t get away from.

But every little contribution helps, and if we shift our way of thinking about it, maybe others will too.


Through this process, it has encouraged me to research more about the roots of Halloween and appreciate its origin. Pretty interesting stuff. Sometimes we get so caught up in the modern version of the celebration, that we forget how or why we’re all habitually taking part in it. 

So anyway, we’re not boycotting Halloween. We may be standing against what it has become, but we’re not removing ourselves from it completely. 

Quite frankly though, if everyone on my street opted to not give out candy, but rather greet us at the door with questions about the girls’ costumes—that would be fine by me. That could turn Halloween into a far more enjoyable, social event—kind of like an annual street party. I like that idea much better than a bunch of kids running around trying to fill their bags the fastest. 

My kids will inevitably disagree, but only in the short term, I’m sure. 

Have a spooky one!

Comments (4)

Yes agree – We need leadership in this new way of ‘seeing’ Halloween . Thank you for that leadership.

Thanks for reading! Although I feel like we’re merely offering a suggestion; it’s up to all of us as people to lead.

I like the idea of the neighborhood focus. What about organizing a neighborhood pot luck of sorts where parents and kids hangout eating and dancing in the street together to scary halloweeney music?

This sounds fun! Especially in neighborhoods where there are many younger kids. That would certainly bring the focus of the holiday away from “things” and root it instead in shared experiences.

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