Give Halloween an eco-friendly makeover at school

Kids all ages love Halloween! From spooky decorations to candy wrappers—Halloween tends not to be the most eco-friendly holiday. As educators, what can we do to make Halloween fun, easier on the environment, and lead by example? 

 

Candy

  1. Go Fair Trade! Is ordering fair trade candy affordable for you? This post may give you an idea. If you can, that is great! Cocoa farmers deserve living wages too. You can even precede your classroom Halloween party with some fun education on fair trade chocolate. But, do not beat yourself up if finding fair trade chocolate is not feasible for you right now. Sustainability is in steps, not all at once. 
  2. Unwrap it! Check to see if your school will allow you to provide unwrapped candy. If yes, try ordering unwrapped candy and chocolates to avoid single-use plastic wrappers! Encourage students to bring treats that are not single wrapped too! A 2011 analysis from the National Confectioners Association stated that 2.2 billion dollars worth of candy is purchased during the Halloween season. All those single-size candies require a lot of non-recyclable packaging that is hard to manage and ends up in the landfill or floating around the environment. 
  3. Terracycle? Did you know most of those little plastic wrappers cannot be recycled in your normal recycling bin? If your school already has robust support for sustainability initiatives, it may be worth acquiring a Terracycling box for all your candy wrappers!

Decorations

  1. Reuse it! You can still have a fantastic Halloween classroom without breaking the bank or the environment. Try these upcycled pool noodle candlesmilk jug jack-o-lanterns, or other juice/milk jug based decorations
  2. Make some glitter! Need glitter for your decor? Try some of these eco-friendly DIY options! 
  3.  Thrift it! Are you passionate about Halloween decorations? Is DIY a little too much? Take a trip to the thrift store. You can save money and reuse! 

Pumpkins

  1. Use it? So it may be challenging to reuse the pumpkin guts for an entire classroom of pumpkin-carving students, but reusing some is better than none! Check this list for ways you and your staff can take pumpkin guts and reuse them at home. And don’t worry, you can freeze them and use them later too. 
  2. Compost! Well, speaking of reusing I forgot to mention you can definitely compost pumpkins. If you have one at home or school, consider taking whatever amount is reasonable and composting that. 
  3. Use fewer? Can multiple students work on the same pumpkin? If each student usually has their own, individual pumpkin, have them share! How many students can work on the same pumpkin? Remember, the ideal first step is reducing, not reusing.

Trick or Treating/Dressing Up 

  1. Make a tote bag with a t-shirt or a pillowcase and decorate it! It’s a sustainable and customizable Halloween!  
  2. Use a pillowcase by itself. Keep it minimalistic with no added frills with wasted glitter or paint. This is a very simple sustainability solution that can turn into something very fun. It can be a classroom vs. classroom contest. How many students in your classroom can you engage to use a pillowcase?  
  3. How do you influence costumes? As their teacher, you are a wealth of ideas for your students. Talk to your students about “sustainable” or “easy” costumes. Suggest secondhand stores in your area, reusing pieces of old costumes, or trading with friends if appropriate!  

 

Check out our Pinterest account for more ideas. 

 

Have a Happy Halloween! 

Susie

 

Susie Puga
Susie Puga

Susie is an honors student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Sustainability with a minor in Psychology and a certificate in Cross-Sector Leadership. Susie is working on research to advance the scope of the Sustainability Science Education Project at Arizona State University. She enjoys bringing sustainability education to educators and youth to empower future generations.