How to have a low-waste Halloween

A view looking down on lots of pumpkins piled together

The #WasteNothing guide to Halloween

There’s no need for the horror of all that disposable waste with our #WasteNothing guide to Halloween! If the thought of piles of spooky party rubbish fills you with fear, or makes you too scared to look at your bin, don’t worry, you don’t need sorcery to have a low-waste Halloween. Below are some of our best tricks that still pack in the treats:


Dressing up is an essential part of Halloween festivities, but buying a whole new outfit for just one evening can have a big impact on the planet when you consider the carbon emissions and water used to produce the clothes, the impacts of microplastics, and the effect on the environment when many of these items cannot easily be recycled. Here are a few alternatives to buying an outfit:

  • Hire one

If you are 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.

  • Make a DIY costume

Get in the creative spirit and make your own. 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.

  • Look for something second-hand

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 prepare to be shocked… each year 14.5 million pumpkins are expected to be left uneaten. It’s useful to remember that pumpkins are first and foremost food!

Other decorations

There are lots of ways to get your home Halloween-ready without buying disposable or unnecessary items.

  • Make your own decorations

Get creative and see what you can transform into decorations. Old toilet rolls can be turned into bats, oranges can be used as mini pumpkins – the options are endless. 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.

  • Chose recyclables

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.

  • Chose reusables

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.


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:

  • Give out sweets in paper bags

Buy loose sweets in bulk and then package-up in bags or other containers to give out. You could try a local pick and mix, or see what your nearest Zero Waste shop has on offer.

  • Make your own treats

Cookies or cupcakes provide the perfect portion and can be given out packaging-free or in a paper bag.

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