A Greener Halloween House Party

There’s a nightmare lurking among us and it’s burrowed deep in the underworld of Halloween house parties. Halloween, the friendliest of holidays, is high up on the eco-unfriendly list.

Here’s one scenario of a Halloween house party: A parent or both, in all their loving goodness, mails out the party invites early. They drive to the mall to one of those Halloween stores that pop up in late August and stock up on supplies for the party. They buy disposable plates and cups, Styrofoam for the hot cider and plastic for cold drinks, plastic eating and serving utensils. They score some spooky paper napkins and a plastic tablecloth decorated with ghosts, bats and witches. Plastic spiders and glow-in-the-dark skeletons will be surefire party favor hits with the kids. While they are at it, they pick up extra garbage bags to make easy garbage bag ghosts to decorate the lawn. Big plastic pumpkins for favors round out their shopping trip. The day arrives. The party is a success! The house lights are ablaze for all the fun festivities. They’ve got an easy clean-up–bag it all and place it out on the curb for garbage pickup.

Hey, if this sounds like someone you know or a party you’ve been to, you are not alone. One of my real past life costumes was “Supermom” (still a super mom, just not with Halloween labor-intensive young kids). I’ve certainly been guilty of many of these eco-spooky party offenses.

Did you know that according to the EPA, household waste increases more than 25 percent between Halloween and New Year’s Day? That’s a footprint more like a Loch Ness monster than a dainty Halloween bat.

So does this mean the landfills are clogging up like arteries after a fry-fest? We know that to be true. Can plumping up your local landfill for years to come be the friendliest way to invest local and a healthy legacy to leave our little trick-or-treaters? I think not.

But wait, hold those red-dyed #40 bloody ladyfingers, I see a green light beaconing out of a jack-o-lantern. Since Halloween is a great time to dress up and take on a new persona, here is an Earth-friendly party scenario to try on for size.

A parent or both, in all their loving goodness, are cozied up to their computer blasting out e-vites (no paper waste, no driving), reminding friends to BYOU (bring your own utensils), to dress warmly and to carpool. Next it’s off to the local farm stand (or maybe the backyard) for pumpkins, gourds, fall leaves and all things edible and compostable. The lovely, natural and lively colors of nature (orange, a personal favorite color of mine) set the decor with pumpkins taking center stage. They have a Halloween-themed bed sheet that doubles as a tablecloth and some organic cloth napkins in orange (gotta love it) that have been used and will be reused for years to come. They decide to abbreviate their original plan to use their daily tableware and take the paler green approach of buying some back-up partyware made from corn, sugarcane and bamboo. They have plenty of glass mugs for the no-preservative cider. The party favors are reusable cloth Halloween bags for the kids.

The day arrives. An outdoor fire is lit with a host of floating pumpkin candles and solar lanterns for light and ambiance. The party is a success! Then off to the compost pile, some dishes (leaving the dishwasher open during the final drying time to save electric and warm up the kitchen), and to their home recycling center.

Can we think outside of the candybox and retire (or at least rehabilitate) our Halloween house party pasts and still party hardy?

Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.


Tamara A.
Tamara A9 years ago

Wow. A post in ALL CAPS, so maybe the freaks really DO come out at Halloween. However, I -gasp- gave out candies, complemented the costumes, warned the would-be double-dippers and am still in one piece. While I didn't lose my soul, I may have gained a couple of pounds from the few remaining candies added to the homemade caramel apples my friends and I made. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, though, I can diet and lose weight. Lars, however, will still be a dimwit.

Janna Spektor

I love it too! Thanks

Brook Hosford
Don Gilman9 years ago

So great! I love the ideas, and I will be sure to use many of them for years to come. As a Vegan, I have vowed to make this a fun holiday for my little man, without all the unhealthy candy and such. And, in response to the negative comment above, Halloween is what you make of it. I choose not to make it an evil day, I don't get into the gory stuff(though I don't shield my children from it, either, I just explain that some people find things like that fun or funny). I respect everyone's right to practice whatever faith, religion they choose, but please do not throw it into my face. Thank you.

Linda Kennedy
Linda Hawkes9 years ago

Great ideas and I confess I never thought of just how much waste was created during Halloween until you mentioned it.

Robert Cubinelly
Robert Cubinelly9 years ago

Very cool ideas.

Annie Bond
Past Member 9 years ago

Haha, what an inspiring blog, Ronnie! I love it. And who would know they were missing the plastic? Nobody! Oh my, I didn't know that household waste goes up 25 percent between Halloween and New Year's Day, but now that you mention it I guess it makes sense...!