zero waste halloween candy

Of all the months, October is my favorite. I love the fall colors, the crisp weather, the bundling and cozying up, and I’m a sucker for pumpkin spice anything. Call me basic, whatever.

And then, there’s Halloween — by far the best holiday. The dressing up, the campiness, neighbors yards laced with stringy cobwebs and spooky ghosts. I get a real kick out of seeing people get in the Halloween spirit (pun intended).

And yet, it comes at an environmental cost. The candy wrappers that litter the sidewalk, the disposable costumes and decorations. What’s a zero waster/Halloween-lover to do?

This will be our first Halloween in our new home and I’m pretty stoked to see what kind of trick-of-treater turnout we get. I’ve been doing all the research to figure out what the heck we can distribute on Halloween that isn’t wrapped in plastic and it’s tough. EVERYTHING is wrapped in plastic.   

Some eco-minded people online suggest making homemade treats, but the effort (and cost) of baking individual treats and finding a way to package them is more effort than I’m up for this year. Some suggest passing out crayons or even seashells instead of candy. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t want to be the house that doesn’t give out candy. I want to give the kids what they want — sugary goodness.

Then there are the “eco-friendly” treats like fair trade chocolate, palm oil free candy and naturally sweetened suckers. Unfortunately, while the product itself might be “eco-friendly,” the packaging is not and they all come in non-recyclable plastic wrappers.

I have to say, they don’t make it easy and it seems like most alternatives require time or money. Why hasn’t anyone come out with some cool, non-plastic halloween treats?!

Until then, here are 5 ideas for zero waste trick-or-treat goodies:

zero waste halloween candy plastic free alternatives

  1. Alter Eco Truffles. This was the only candy I found that comes in compostable packaging. The wrappers are made from eucalyptus and birch trees with non toxic ink. They sell a 60-piece box of truffles for $44.99 which equates to about $0.75 per truffle. This was a little too expensive for me, but would be a great option if you’re okay with spending a little extra.
  2. Candy in Cardboard Boxes. There a few classic candies that still come in mini cardboard boxes — dots, nerds and junior mints to name a few. I went this route and bought a cardboard box filled with 72 fun sized Junior Mints boxes online for $33 (about $0.46 per mini box). The cardboard box it comes in and the mini boxes can all be recycled, no plastic waste. 
  3. Bulk Candy. If you don’t want to do homemade, but don’t mind spending a little extra time packaging your candy, I’d recommend the bulk route. You can buy lots of cool candy at Whole Foods — chocolatey treats, jelly beans and even Swedish Fish! You could buy a few different bulk candies, in your reusable muslin bags of course, and package them in mini paper bags.
  4. Canned Soda. A friend once told me that one of his favorite houses to hit up when he was a trick-or-treater handed out a whole can of soda. I thought this could be a pretty cool alternative to candy. You could even pass out more healthy options like natural sodas or La Croix. I would recommend buying sodas that are packaged in a cardboard box versus the ones that comes strung together with plastic.
  5. Foil Candy. There are a few candies that come wrapped in foil, which can be recycled. I toyed with the idea of doing Reese’s pieces cups, which are wrapped in foil, but I wasn’t sure if the paper wrapper around the candy is recyclable or compostable. You could do gold coins or those round chocolate pumpkins wrapped in foil. Note that if the foil pops back to it’s original shape when you crumple it, it’s made of a plastic-foil composite, which is not recyclable (like a chip bag).

I hope these zero waste treats inspire you this Halloween. And, please let us know what other ways you're keeping Halloween plastic-free this year in the comments section below. 

October 16, 2017 by Lily Cameron

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