Finding Zero Waste treat ideas for Halloween almost seems like an impossible task. Americans consume nearly 600 million pounds of Halloween candy per year, most of which are individually packaged. Imagine the amount of waste that produces. Millions and millions of plastic wrappers serve their purpose for a brief moment then get tossed – or probably littered on the streets.
No, I’m not going to be the Debbie Downer and tell you to stop letting your kids trick-or-treat or to turn that porch light off to avoid passing out candy. Why? Because Halloween is fun. I could even sit here and argue that it is the most family-oriented holiday that exists in America.
So how do we continue to celebrate our beloved celebration of ghouls and goblins without ending up with buckets of trash? We rethink it. Yes, there IS a way to partake in trick-or-treating without contributing to our already obvious garbage issue.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. What kid wants fruit on Halloween? You’d probably be surprised! With the constant rise in food allergies, many kids/parents might give you a high five for providing a safe item for them to eat – that is if they are not allergic to the fruit.
You can also make the fruit more fun like making mandarin oranges look like jack-o-lanterns by using a magic marker or making bananas look like ghosts. Apples are a great fall fruit to pass out or even small, decorative pumpkins. In-season produce is always better!
Treats From Nature
Gems, seashells, etc. This would be a fun treat for children to get that wouldn’t cause waste or cavities! I would have opted for pretty rocks over candy any day. Of course, I was a strange child.
Treats that Get Used Up
Boxes of crayons, sidewalk chalk, and pencils are good items to hand out as they get used up. Sprout pencils are great considering once they get too short to use, they grow into various plants when planted.
Cookies, cupcakes, cake pops, homemade chocolates, caramel apples – the list is endless! My neighborhood hands out a lot of homemade treats and we love them! Looking back when I was a child, I’ll never forget the delicious popcorn balls that are neighbor made. She always wrapped them in white cloth to make them look like ghosts.
I also refuse to spread unnecessary fear that homemade treats are unsafe. But you’re probably right, that sweet little old lady down the street is assuredly handing out apples stuffed with razor blades and cyanide. Come on.
Guess how many documented cases there’s been of strangers poisoning children with laced, homemade treats? None. Allergens aside, stop worrying over nothing.
Stop living in a state of perpetual fear over something that is very unlikely.
And if you still can’t get past homemade treats, kindly tell whomever is passing them out, “No Thank You” rather than toss something into the garbage someone took time to lovingly make for the trick-or-treaters.
Fill paper bags with bulk candies or popped popcorn. Write a fun reminder on the bag to compost or recycle it after use because this is only zero waste if the recipient avoids tossing the bag into the garbage. We have to remember that getting the normal way of thinking to reduce, reuse, or recycle before tossing is going to take time.
Packets of herb seeds, pumpkin seeds, or flower bombs would be a fun treat to give children to encourage them to grow their own plants!
Palm Oil Free Candy
If you still would rather hand out packaged candy, at least – at the VERY least – opt for palm oil-free treats. A lot of the candy that we consume is terribly destructive to endangered species’ habits. Orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and Sumatran elephants have all been affected by deforestation due to palm oil farming.
Palm oil production and farming practices have also been found to violate many human rights and worker’s rights. Because of the cheapness of this product – almost half of the goods we consume contain it. Avoiding it can be tricky considering that companies do NOT have to disclose verbatim “Palm Oil” on their ingredients list. To keep it simple – here is a list of candies that are either made with no palm oil or are made with sustainable palm oil. Download the full list HERE.
Why just hand out treats? Go above and beyond and do something a little more creative! Set up games like bobbing for apples or pumpkin ring toss, hand out apple cider, set up a pumpkin painting area, etc.
You could even put together a Halloween Scavenger Hunt for kids to fill out as they Trick or Treat. Just get creative! Seriously, how many of your neighbors have you taken the time to get to know?
This is a great opportunity to really connect with them and provide a safe and fun activity for kids on Halloween.
Halloween doesn’t have to be wasteful if we rethink the way we distribute treats! With a little preparation and thought, we can add a little “green” to our black and orange holiday.
What about all of the candy you got anyway?
Donate it to a take back charity like Treats for Troops who partner with local businesses to take back excess Halloween candy from kids in exchange for goodies. Of course you don’t have to accept the “goodies” whatever those might be.
What do you pass out on Halloween that is waste-free and sustainable?