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  • Writer's pictureFiona James

Waste-free Halloween: Treats

Halloween is nearly here! It is therefore time to face the biggest challenge in reducing waste at Halloween: Treats!

What on Earth do you give trick-or-treaters when you are trying to reduce waste! Photo by

There are four options that I consider when planning what to hand out to the children who visit my home. The option that is the most appropriate really depends on your circumstances, so I will discuss all four options here and hopefully you can find something that will work for you!

Low-waste Halloween Treat Options:

  1. Home-made, package-free treats

  2. Bulk buy treats that you package yourself

  3. Store bought treats that come in recyclable or compostable packaging

  4. Non-food treats that are package free.

1. Home-made, package free treats

There are some great ideas out there for fantastic, Halloween themed treats which, being home-made, are package free. Blossom has some great ideas in this video.

These are typically more suited for serving at house parties rather than to trick-or-treaters since it is difficult for kids to take these items away. Children could potentially just eat the treats straight away as they walk to the next house, in which case, perhaps the biscuit fingers or the toffee apples could be a possibility. I think I will make a few of these for my kids to snack on for afternoon tea the day of Halloween.

The other issue with this option is that many parents are concerned with their children taking home-made or unpackaged food from a stranger. If your Halloween celebrations tend to involve only the few children in the street whom you know personally, these might be a great option, but if you are like me and see a lot of strangers at your door, it might be better to try something else.

2. Bulk buy treats that you package yourself

It is possible to buy many chocolates and lollies package-free, in your own containers from bulk stores. If you are a north Brisbane local, check out Simply Good at Alderley or Morayfield for a great selection of reasonably priced bulk confectionery. This is a great option for birthday party favours as well! You can package these up simply in small paper bags or you can get a bit creative and make something like this broomstick from Martha Stewart.

Witch's Broomsticks from Martha Stewart. Photo by Ellie Milller.

I am planning to make these lolly filled witch's brooms for the students in my homeroom as a special Halloween treat (I am a highschool teacher by day!). Having some packaging solves the issue of portability, however, as with the home-made treats, unless you know the children (or their parents) personally, you may prefer one of the following suggestions.

3. Treats in recyclable packaging

There are a few confectionery items around that come packaged in cardboard or wrapped in foil. I went on a mission today to see what I could find in this category and this is what I came up with:

Plastic-free treats!

The chocolate hearts, peanut butter cups and Fads came from Lollyworld at Lawnton. The smarties are from Woolworths. I looked in a number of stores to try and find the small smarties boxes sold individually, but I could only find either the large boxes or the plastic bag of smaller boxes. I settled on the bag of smaller boxes and will recycle the plastic bag through redcycle.

The biggest problem with this option is that you have no control over what the child will do with the packaging after they've eaten the treat. You can remind them that the packaging is recyclable, but once you give it to someone else you no longer have control over what happens to it. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try though. Every bit counts, and you never know whether you might inspire someone else to do something similar next year! If you really don't want to hand out packaging, then my final suggestion might be for you!

4. Non-food treats

Last year I knew that there would be a number of kids with food allergies visiting my home and, inspired by the Teal Pumpkin Project, I bought a small selection of non-food treats in addition to my standard offerings to ensure that those kids were included in the fun. What surprised me though was how many kids without allergies chose a non-food treat! The trade-off with non-food treats is that they are generally more expensive than a big packet of plastic wrapped lollies. When I shop for non-food treats I aim to stick to a budget of less than $1 per item, even then, it is very hard to find a toy that is not cheap plastic rubbish for less than $1.

After scouting around my local area, this is what I came up with:

  • A set of good quality second hand metal matchbox cars for $1 each at my local thrift store (Lifeline at Brendale). They came bundled in a net bag that I'll return to them to reuse.

  • high-bounce balls from my favourite local toy store Twigs Toy Boutique. The balls are package-free and 3 for $1.

  • hair bows from Best and Less in cardboard packaging and 5 for $4

  • fabric finger puppets from Ikea in a package of 10 for $9.99. The packaging on these was plastic so this will also be recycled through redcycle.

All of these non-food treats would also make great low-waste and plastic-free favours for a children's birthday party! The other bonus is that if somehow you have some left over, you can store them away for Christmas stocking stuffers, or as party favours for future birthday parties.

For anyone who is planning to shop for Halloween treats this weekend, I hope that you have found some inspiration to help make your Halloween less wasteful! Good luck!

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