How to have a low-waste Halloween

Three children dressed in halloween costumes: a pirate, a pumpkin and a witch.

The Waste Nothing Guide to Halloween

Save yourself from the horror of halloween waste with these tricks (and treats) for a low waste spooky season. This year a frightening number of pumpkins are expected to go to waste… 22 million!

Find out how to turn your pumpkin into a tasty treat instead and the easy swaps to make your halloween more sustainable.


Dressing up is an essential part of Halloween festivities, but buying a whole new outfit for just one evening can come at a high price for you and the environment. Instead of buying new costumes this year, try hiring one, making your own or buying second hand.

Hire a Halloween costume 🧛🏾‍♀️

If you’re looking for the wow factor, hiring a costume will allow you to have a top-quality look, without the cost of buying a new one.

Like all clothes manufacturing, producing new halloween costumes uses a lot of water and results in carbon emissions. Costumes made from synthetic materials can shed microplastics and can’t usually be recycled.

Make a DIY costume 👻

Get in the creative spirit and make your own halloween costume. Use bits and bobs from around your home that you already own to cut back on unnecessary purchases. Check if you have old clothes or bedding that can be adapted into costumes. You can also rummage around in your recycling boxes to find materials that can be transformed into a costume.

If you do need extra craft materials, the Children’s Scrapstore is a great place to look.

Buy a preloved costume 🧙🏻‍♀️

It’s really easy to find second-hand costumes that people have hardly worn. Try online selling sites, local buying and selling groups and charity shops. The British Heart Foundation website has some DIY costume ideas based on clothes found in their charity shops for inspiration.


It wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkins, but each year millions pumpkins are left uneaten. Pumpkins can be turned into delicious family meals or seasonal Halloween treats. We’re sure that once you try them you’ll never leave a pumpkin uneaten again!

From pies to pasties, pasta and pastries, we’re sure you can find a tasty way to eat your pumpkin!

Once the celebrations are over, please put your decorative pumpkin in your food waste bin so it can be recycled.


There are lots of ways to get your home Halloween-ready without buying disposable or non-recyclable decorations.

Make your own spooky decorations 🎃

Get creative and see what you can transform into decorations. Try turning old toilet rolls into ghosts and bats or decorating oranges to look like mini pumpkins. You can even make your decorations edible so that they don’t need to be thrown away. Use gingerbread ghosts, and other edible decorations to create a spooky atmosphere.

Choose recyclable decorations 🦇

If you are buying new, think about choosing items which can be recycled after the party. Avoid plastic items like balloons that can’t be recycled, and opt for things like paper lanterns and bunting. If they are glitter-free, please put these items in your black recycling box.

Choose reusable decorations 🕷

Invest in party items that you can use year after year such as good-quality lights, fabric bunting, and other decorations that will withstand multiple uses. This can also save you money when you consider cost-per-use compared to disposable decorations.

Halloween treats

Giving out food to trick or treaters can be especially hard, particularly when you are expected to hand out small, packaged offerings. But there are some things you can try:

Low or no plastic treats 🍭

Choose treats wrapped in recyclable paper, card or foil instead of plastic or buy loose sweets in bulk and then package-up in bags or other containers to give out.

For plastic free treat that’s also healthy, draw spooky pumpkin faces on satsumas or oranges.

You could try a local pick and mix, or see what your nearest Zero Waste shop has on offer.

Make your own treats 🍪

If you’re throwing a party, or know your neighbours are happy for you to give out unwrapped treats, cookies or cupcakes can be given out packaging-free or in a paper bag. Try this BBC Good Food recipe for Halloween cupcakes.

Non-sweet Halloween treats 🪀

Instead of sweets, you could give out spooky stickers, temporary tattoos, novelty erasers or hair scrunchies. Although most stickers contain plastic, this is usually less than sweet wrappers (and they’ll be enjoyed for longer!)

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