Haunted by Unsustainability – Halloween is Scary for the Planet

by Courtney Wight '26 on November 10, 2023


Halloween is a fun holiday where people can express themselves by dressing up and having a fun evening getting free candy. What’s not to love? The horrible impact the holiday has on the environment. Every Halloween, new costumes, candy, and pumpkins are purchased in exorbitant amounts in preparation for the holiday. Most of these things are cheap, non reusable, or both.

The average person buys a Halloween costume every year either for themselves or their kids, and then does not wear it ever again. Purchasing things that will only be worn once is not environmentally conscious or sustainable. Instead, if possible, people should try to make DIY costumes, swap with friends, or find clothing from thrift shops and second hand stores. It’s fairly easy to make a simple costume with clothes already owned. Additionally, many items can be used for more than one costume. For example, a black cloak can be used to be a wizard or a vampire. By owning these staple pieces that can be reused, costumes become more sustainable.

Another cornerstone of Halloween is carving pumpkins. This can be great for local farms that grow pumpkins, however, most people do not use their pumpkins to their full potential. The insides are carved out and many people simply throw them away. Instead of throwing pumpkin seeds out, they could be used in numerous recipes or composted in a garden or backyard. Once the holiday is over, pumpkins should not be thrown into the trash, since they will end up in a landfill. It is better for the environment if pumpkins are composted.

The best part of trick-or-treating is the free candy, but the cute plastic buckets many buy for kids to collect the candy in are unnecessary. As a kid, I always loved using a pillowcase to hold all my candy. Also, candies are usually individually wrapped in plastic as well as packaged in a larger plastic bag. While candy is a key part of Halloween, there are other alternatives to buying candy in plastic. Many candies come in boxes rather than plastic bags, such as Junior Mints and Milk Duds. This small change from plastic to cardboard boxes can help especially when the scale is so large. By using a pillowcase and having candy in boxes, the holiday’s impact on the environment can be reduced.

Overall, to make a positive impact, people must be aware of their habits and choices. Halloween is meant to be a fun time, though many people prioritize having the best costume over more sustainable methods to make a costume. In anticipation of Halloween, people are buying various items for their costumes this year. The rules of sustainable shopping should apply to Halloween costumes so people are more conscious about the environmental impacts of their spending despite the holiday.