Scary Halloween Hacks for Kids and Parents

Most people think of orange and black at Halloween—but you can think green too. Costumes, candy, parties, and decorations are tons of fun, but they also effect the environment by creating extra waste and using more energy. Halloween can also come with a hefty price tag—in 2015, Americans spent nearly $7 billion to celebrate it. Tap into your creativity with these five ideas, which will save you money and protect the environment.

Check out our Halloween infographic below!

Hand out Fun Alternatives to Candy

Packaging makes up nearly 30 percent of our trash, including those little individually wrapped treats given out on Halloween. Often, candy comes in packaging that is not recyclable, although you can check with your local solid waste service provider. Instead of handing out individually wrapped candies, try handing out treats that are useful and have minimal packaging. Here are a few ideas for fun things to hand out, which you can often buy in bulk:

  • Halloween themed crayons, pencils, pens, erasers, markers, cups, stamps, or notepads.
  • Small games, puzzles, activity pads, or bookmarks.
  • Barrettes, costume jewelry, baseball cards, coins, or mini cookie cutters.

If you want to hand out candy, look for candy that comes in recyclable containers, such as cardboard boxes or foil.

When Trick-or-Treating, Walk Rather Than Drive

Rather than driving your kids around the neighborhood for trick-or-treating, walk with them. Walking saves fuel and produces no vehicle emissions. When you drive around from house to house, you’ll spend a lot of time idling, which can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour. So leave the car at home, and get some exercise with your family. You’ll burn off some of those Halloween calories and tire out your kids.

Make or Exchange Costumes

Host a Costume Swap

A costume swap is a get-together where everyone brings old costumes and accessories that they no longer want and exchanges them with other costumes. Make the atmosphere fun by putting out some refreshments and playing some tunes. Lay out some ground rules, such as the first person to touch an item gets the item. Separate kid and adult costumes and set up a dressing room. Ask guests to bring their own bag to carry home their loot. Have a plan for any unwanted costumes. You could ask guests to take their costumes home with them or donate unclaimed items to a thrift store.

If a costume swap sounds like more work than you want to take on, then keep it simple by just trading costumes with a friend.

Make Your Costume

A brief Internet search can give you some inspiration to make your own costume—there are a lot of do-it-yourself ideas available on Pinterest and other websites. With all the activities kids are involved in, chances are, you have some of their old uniforms, costumes from school plays (or a previous Halloween), and props. Take parts from these items, which are already cluttering your closets, and make a brand new costume. Often, you can also find what you need at thrift stores.

If you decide to purchase a costume, save it for another use or donate it to a second hand store after Halloween.

Consider Your Environmental Impact When Shopping for Decorations

  • Avoid buying decorations that can only be used once before you throw them away. Instead, shop for those that you can reuse each Halloween.
  • Look online for DIY projects to make your own decorations from things you already have around the house or that you buy from thrift stores.
  • Purchase fall-themed decorations, which can be put up for Halloween and used through Thanksgiving.
  • When purchasing Halloween lights, look for LEDs with the ENERGY STAR label and set them on a timer to turn on at dark and off at bedtime. LED lights last 20 to 30 years, and require 90 percent less electricity than conventional lights. The ENERGY STAR label is a simple way to identify energy efficient products.
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