“Luckily my daughter was a ghost last year so that was manageable. We do hand-me-down costumes . . . I’ve got two kids now so my son is reusing my daughter’s costumes for the most part.”
Rohmann also reuses simple Halloween decorations each year.
“I try not to get stuff like crepe paper or the cobwebs or things that aren’t going to last as long,” says Rohmann, who has also volunteered with the Queen of Green coaching program with the David Suzuki Foundation. Though lawn tombstones and outdoor skeletons are plastic, their life cycle is longer.
“You’re not using energy to keep them inflated or the lights to keep them lit up, so I think it’s a lower-footprint way of doing it.”
They both advocate taking the non-food route when it comes to handing out treats at the door.
Rohmann is giving out Halloween-themed pencils, though she plans to buy some candy to have on hand for older kids.
“I know we can never have enough art supplies in the house — pencils, crayons, notebooks, that sort of thing. I’m going for practical,” she says.
Both women suggest avoiding impractical dollar-store trinkets, which can become clutter and end up in landfill.
For candy, look for a type packaged in a recyclable cardboard box such as Smarties, which are also peanut free.
The wrappers on individually wrapped chocolate bars can’t be recycled, but some communities can accommodate the cellophane from candy like lollipops in their soft plastic recycling program.
If the opportunity arises, Leblond’s son will choose plastic-free packaged treats when trick-or-treating.
“Even if the homeowner doesn’t have any plastic-free treats to provide this year it may provide food for thought for coming years,” she says.
To collect their loot, children can use a pillowcase or reusable cloth shopping bag. Leblond’s son uses a Halloween pail they had before they started their zero-waste lifestyle and her daughter uses an Easter basket.
An alternative to handing out candy is to donate to the Trick or Eat program, an initiative aimed at fighting hunger.
“Volunteers collect food and other goods such as diapers and feminine hygiene products and raise awareness about hunger issues on people’s doorsteps, then deliver goods to a local aid agency,” says Sarah Archibald, program manager of the non-profit, youth-driven charity Meal Exchange, which runs Trick or Eat.
There are at least 85 campaigns running across the country. Last year, about 3,800 participants raised $380,000 worth of food, says Archibald. In total, $5 million worth of food has been raised over the 15 years the program has been running.
A Calgary dental office is also trying to reduce Halloween waste by asking kids to trade in their candy. Children can bring in their booty to Evans Dental Health Wellness on Nov. 1 for the Halloween Candy Buy Back program.
The child gets $1 for every pound of candy and the dental service donates a pound of apples to the local food bank. This year, they are shipping the candy to the California company Blume Distillation to be converted to biofuel.
The program has been running for nine years. Last year, 2,500 pounds of apples were donated.