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Tip of the Month: How to Have a Non-Toxic, Less-Waste Halloween

Less Waste, Non-toxic Halloween Tips

Tip of the Month: How to Have a Non-Toxic, Less-Waste Halloween

Ruth Crystal intern at Women's Voices for the Earth

Ruth Crystal
WVE Intern

This is Halloween! The time for spooky stories and Thriller dancing is upon us, and if you love fall as much as we do, you may already be planning festivities for All Hallow’s Eve. The 31st should be spent having fun, and not worrying about scary chemicals that may be hiding in Halloween-themed purchases. To help out, we gathered some tips to avoid toxic chemicals, and simple ways to reduce holiday waste, so you can focus on what’s really important — having a spook-tacular Halloween!


Face Paint/ Makeup: Be wary of children’s face paints, as many of them can contain heavy metals like lead or cadmium. Since safety testing sometimes gets brushed under the table, face paint and children’s makeup may contain unlisted ingredients that can pose serious health risks. To avoid heavy metal hocus pocus, choose a costume that doesn’t need face paint, or make your own food-based makeup with ingredients you know and trust.

Costume: If you opt to buy a costume, avoid ones with PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), as this toxic soft plastic often contains phthalates (serious endocrine disruptor) to make it more flexible. Chemicals found in  PVC can also have adverse effects on asthma in children, so it’s best to simply avoid PVC all together. Additionally, check the tags to see if the costume is flame retardant. Avoid the costume if it is.  Studies show that flame retardant exposure can lead to serious health issues including cancer and impaired motor skills. There’s always the option of making your own costume, or trading an old for a new with some friends or a sibling.

Candy Carrier: When choosing a candy-carrier, look for plastic-free candy carrying options. Go the extra mile of crafty fun and make your own using a paper grocery bag, or old cloth. Or, go with the tried and true pillow case.

Yard Decorations

Keep it local – Support your community and purchase locally grown gourds, pumpkins, corn, and hay bales whenever possible. When all is said and done, use leftovers as mulch or find a compost pile for the remains.

Keep it simple – Avoid the temptation to buy plastic, electronic, or one-time-use decorations such as spider webs or inflatable ghouls. A lot of these end up in landfills, or in animal tummies if left outside for too long. Plus, less “things” mean less year-round clutter, and less household dust.

Keep it crafty – There’s nothing wrong with keeping it home made! Plus, it’s so much fun to make your own decorations. Use cardboard to make tombstones and window shadows, egg cartons and string to make bats, cheese cloth as dusty webs, socks as ghosts, and so much more!

Monster Mash Bashes

Not into trick-or-treating? Ready those e-vites for a Halloween delight. Whether hosting or bringing an item to a pot luck, use reusable dishes and utensils to keep trash at a minimum, and label a bin for those recyclables. Ditch the pre-packaged candy for bulk or homemade treats, and keep food local when the chance presents itself.

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