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Zero Waste Halloween

scary pumpkin

Halloween may be a time for tricks and treats, but the scariest part about the season is the amount of waste it produces in North America. Canadians spend $397 million on Halloween candy alone, and most of that comes in non-recyclable packaging. The good news? There are so many great options for a zero-waste Halloween!

Swap Before You Shop

Check your closet, scope out your local trading zone , or visit a costume swap before hitting the thrift store. Many thrift stores stock up with new, packaged costumes at this time of year to provide a bigger selection, but all that means is more plastic in the landfill at the end of the season. Plastic wigs, polyester costumes, and all that plastic packaging won’t break down, and will end up in our waterways and landfill. If you have a specific vision in mind, opt for second-hand items made from natural fibres, especially items that can be re-purposed, swapped, or shared later on. Alternatively, you can rent a costume from a local shop , which offers a wider selection of specific costumes. If you’re crafty (or at least handy with safety pins) you can upcycle found-objects and other items into countless costume ideas, like affixing cereal boxes to your regular clothes for the classic “cereal killer” costume, or turning egg cartons in to corn on the cob – check out a bunch of great cardboard costumes here and here

Party Time

When planning or attending a Halloween party, think outside the (snack) box, and opt for zero-waste alternatives. Borrow our cotton candy machine for an extra special sweet treat. Borrow a catering kit with reusable dishes, and simmer some homemade cider in a crock pot. Carve up a spooky watermelon brain , white-chocolate dipped strawberry ghosts, and chocolate and pretzel spiders Pick up unwrapped or foil wrapped candy at the bulk food store in reusable containers. Pop some big bowls of popcorn and add your own seasonings and spices, or borrow a big pot and try this recipe for homemade kettle corn. 

Decorate with small pumpkins that can be made in to soup or pie the next day, and the vibe spooky with dim lighting and a great halloween playlist. Upcycle cardboard in to creepy silhouettes and decor, or project a scary scene with our mini projector  

More Tricks, Less Treats

Rather than hand out plastic packaged candy to trick-or-treaters, opt for some non-food, zero-waste options. The City of Guelph is selling pass books for public skating and swimming , The Dragon in Downtown Guelph is handing out special-edition comic books for (or you could grab a pile of them at the thrift store). Borrow the button maker and make one of a kind buttons to give out, using images from old books and magazines. Steph Sew Sublime sells small iron-on patches that make a great zero-waste giveaway

Trick or Trash 

On Tuesday, October 30th, pick up an empty bag from the Guelph Tool Library (or use a disposable paper or plastic bag of your own). On Halloween, before it gets dark, head out in your neighborhood to pick up trash or recycling (keep them separate). For every bag you fill before Friday, October 2nd, you’ll be entered in to a draw to win a Guelph Tool Library T Shirt, Tote bag, or workshop coupon. Bring your full bags to the Guelph Tool Library during the Pumpkin Promenade to have them recorded and to fill out a ballot.


Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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