6 Eco-Friendly and Low-Waste Halloween Treats

A Drop in the Ocean Zero Waste Store: 6 Sustainable and Zero Waste Halloween Treats
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This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on October 24, 2022.

Hey friend! Can you believe we’re less than one week out from Halloween??

If you’ve got kids or live in an area where Trick-or-Treating is ~the thing to do~, now is probably about the time you’ve started thinking about which candies you’re gonna hand out this year. And if you’re anything like me, most years you probably end up at Target the morning of and grabbing whatever’s left on the shelves.

But you’re an EcoWarrior. So you’re probably also super aware of all of the waste that comes with this annual tradition, and maybe even the environmental and social issues with a lot of chocolate brands. 

(Blog post allll about sustainable chocolate coming in a couple of months!) 

You’re most likely dreading walking down the plastic-littered streets next week, and really don’t want to add to that mess.

So I’ve gotchu, friend.

Today, I’ve compiled six eco-friendly Trick-or-Treat options for you as we near Halloween night.

Note that I’ve said “eco-friendly” here, not “zero waste.” Unpackaged candies are a no-go, and will more than likely be tossed immediately when all the kids return home with their spoils. And that’s just making even more waste. So let’s not do that, mkay?

♻️ A Note on Recyclability ♻️

As we come up on Halloween, you’re gonna start to see all the eco-blogs and eco-influencers telling you to collect all of your aluminum foil and ball it up until it reaches the size of a baseball, then toss that ball in your recycling bin.

In some areas, that may be true.

But in others, it’s very much not.

Here in Tacoma, aluminum foil of any size or structure is totally unrecyclable (including things like Chipotle bowl lids). Aluminum foil melts at a different temperature than aluminum cans, and therefore just turns to ash in the recycling process.

Since learning this, I’m super skeptical of any city that says they accept aluminum foil, and would love to see their recycling process.

So before assuming that your Reese’s wrappers are recyclable, always always always check your city’s recycling guidelines. 

Just Google “recycling guidelines [your city]” to find out.

Okay, now onto the candy!

1. Choose Sustainable Palm Oil

Palm oil is basically everywhere. It’s a highly, highly efficient vegetable oil that supplies 35% of the global oil demand while only utilizing 10% of the land designated for oil crops. Basically, half of everything we use every day (from cookies to shampoo) contains palm oil.

Unfortunately, historically, large areas of forest have been burned in Malaysia and Indonesia to make room for oil palm plantations.

But the answer to our palm oil problem isn’t to boycott palm oil altogether

If we replaced all of the palm oil completely, we’d have to replace that oil with another, less efficient oil, which would in turn lead to even greater deforestation.

Instead, sustainably-sourced palm oil certification stops palm expansion, so we can continue to harvest from existing plantations in a more sustainable way, while also continuing to employ millions of people.

Each year, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo releases their approved list of orangutan-friendly chocolates and candies - aka chocolates and candies with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)-certified sustainable palm oil.

Before you make any candy decisions this year, peep that list and choose orangutan-friendly options first.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Sustainable Halloween Candy

2. Check Your Bulk Bins

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with access to bulk bins, check out what’s available! You may find some aluminum-foil wrapped chocolates that you can scoop into your own bag rather than in a large plastic bag. Just remember what I said above about aluminum foil recycling.

I did a recon trip to my local Winco and found SO MUCH CANDY OMG.

Seriously. I felt like a kid let loose in a candy store. It was a good thing I only brought enough bulk bags for the two things I knew I needed - neither of which involved bulk candy.

There was even a whole section dedicated to Halloween-themed candies, nearly all wrapped in aluminum foil.

A Drop in the Ocean Zero Waste Store: Bulk Aluminum Foil-Wrapped Halloween Candy

Plus all of those delicious, bite-size Hershey bars, chocolate kisses, Andes mints, Reese’s (so many Reese’s 🤤), and all the plastic-wrapped classics we all know and love… Smarties, Now and Laters, Lemon Heads, Tootsie Rolls, Butterscotch, Laffy Taffy… it was like a neverending wall of sugar.

So check your local bulk bins, then do me a favor and head over to the EcoWarrior Pod, and share with us what you found!

Bulk Candy Bins

3. Remember Pixy Stix?

I totally forgot about the joy that comes with a paper-wrapped tube of sugary sugar until I started doing some Googling for this post.

But seriously. PIXY STIX ARE THE BEST WHEN YOU’RE A KID. Or a 29-year-old adult. I have zero shame.

And at about $0.07 a piece, they’re also super affordable.

4. Opt for Boxes

Similar to aluminum foil, tiny candy boxes may not be super recyclable, since they’re so small they could easily get caught in machinery. 

BUT if we’re trying to cut our plastic use, a cardboard box isn’t the worst way to go!

Choose candies like Nerds or Junior Mints that come in small boxes rather than little plastic bags. You might even be able to find Skittles, M&Ms, or Reese’s Pieces in cardboard boxes, too. 

(Sign me up for Reese’s Pieces all day, every day.)

5. Alter Eco Chocolate Truffles

Okay so I’ve never tried this brand personally, but after reviewing their sustainability standards, I will definitely be giving them a try soon!

All of Alter Eco’s products contain only organic ingredients, grown by small-scale, fair-trade farmers with regenerative practices, and their packaging is totally recyclable and compostable.

Their business model and company values I can get behind 100%. I’m not getting a single greenwash-y vibe, and for me that’s a pretty gosh darn big deal. 

(I’m a bit of a stickler for sustainability, in case you didn’t know…)

If you’re the kind of house that gives out full-size candy bars on Halloween, this may be your kind of chocolate.

At about $0.83 each, the Alter Eco truffles are a bit spendy for hundreds of Trick-or-Treaters. So maybe go for some Pixy Stix for the costume-clad kids and save these decadent truffles for the quiet evening after with a glass of petite syrah in hand 😉

6. What about some natural sugars instead?

Last but not least, if none of these options are striking your fancy, what about some fruit instead? 

I love the idea of drawing faces on some cuties to look like little jack-o-lanterns!

There was an apple orchard near my hometown growing up that always separated the tiny apples from the full-grown apples. Maybe there’s an orchard near you where you can stock up on tiny, fresh apples?

Or why not make a day of it?? Grab the fam, don your coziest of fall sweaters, and head to an orchard to do some apple picking. Sounds like a lovely day to me 😌

A Drop in the Ocean Zero Waste Store: Eco-Friendly Halloween Candy

Of course, there’s always non-edible options, too. Any list of sustainable Trick-or-Treat options is gonna include things like erasers, pencils, stickers, and temporary tattoos. And those are great, too!

But I distinctly remember the year my family decided to give out pencils and erasers instead of candy, and those Halloween-themed pencils lived in our storage room for yearssssss later.

I love me a good pencil, but be prepared to end up with a hundred extra pencils that you’re gonna keep bringing out year after year and try to convince kids hopped up on a sugar high they should choose a pencil instead of Skittles.

What are you doing for Halloween this year, friend?

Last year I discovered I could pull together an entire pirate costume with only things I already had in my closet, and I’m pretty pumped to do it again this year!

What are your Halloween plans?? How are you keeping things sustainable? I’d love to hear all about it, so comment below and lemme know!


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