If you can’t drive past a pumpkin patch without wondering how much waste is produced on Halloween, then you’re in for a scare. According to Statistics Canada, more than 80,000 metric tonnes of pumpkins are produced each year — most of which isn’t even eaten. [1]

And that’s just one aspect of the Halloween tradition. When you factor in fast fashion costumes as sold by the likes of Spirit Halloween, or the pile of plastic decorations, then you realise why we need to reduce waste on Halloween.

Ironically, given that October 31st has become such a terrifying example of a take-make-waste economy, October is Circular Economy Month in Canada.

The way our current system is set up, we extract, use, and then dispose of resources — which is putting huge pressure on the natural world and communities around the globe. This is a linear economy, and right now Ecojustice is working with partners to develop a vision for a truly circular economy. One where we all get more value, and less waste.

For now, here’s how to do Halloween sustainably:

1. Make pumpkin soup

Or pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice latte — you can even add some pumpkin puree to your dog’s dinner. The point is, with so many delicious pumpkin recipes online, there’s no need to add to the almost 2.3 million tonnes of edible food wasted annually in this country. [2]

Easy roasted pumpkin seeds


Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Wash the seeds by swirling around in a bowl of cold water and pull off any stringy bits. Dry using paper towels.


Scatter the seeds on a baking tray and toss with 2 tsp of olive oil. Roast for 10 mins. Sprinkle with chili powder and serve as a snack or use as a topper for salads and soups.

A French bulldog wears a white bedsheet with holes as a ghost costume.

2. Get crafty

Do you have a bedsheet that’s seen better days? Well, after snipping holes in it for a classic ghost costume, you can cut the rest into rags for cleaning around the house.

Or if you’re handy with a sewing machine, turn the sheet into a cotton tote bag for taking to the shops next time you go grocery shopping.

Once we start thinking of the bin as a last resort, the possibilities are endless.

3. Shop local

With more than 2,500 farms in Canada growing pumpkin patches [3], you’re sure to find a nearby farm or farmer’s market where you can source a sustainable pumpkin. As ever, buy organic if you can.

Ecojustice continues to fight the use of dangerous pesticides in Canada.

4. Think outside the box

One of the principles of the circular economy is repurposing. That means using something for a different purpose than the one for which it was originally intended.

When it comes to Halloween decorations, this is where you can let your imagination run wild. A laddered pair of tights becomes a spider web. Food colouring becomes fake blood. An old ice cream tub becomes the perfect receptacle for handing out candy.

5. If all else fails, recycle

There’s a reason why the mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ has recycling as the last option. That’s because recycling recovers the least amount of value from a product. Think about an old phone — it’s most valuable as a phone. Refurbishment should be the first port of call, and only once that’s no longer viable should we consider breaking it down into its recyclable components.

When it comes to Halloween, reducing could mean buying candy in bulk as opposed to individual packs. Reusing might mean dusting off last year’s outfit and giving it a new lease of life. Finally, recycle once you’ve exhausted all other alternatives, but know that it might not be your fault if you can’t.

Industry has lobbied tirelessly to block plastics regulations here in Canada, and even gone as far as claiming products to be recyclable when they aren’t. Trick or treat? Guess we know which one Big Plastic chose. And they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for us meddling Ecojustice lawyers!


[1] [3] Halloween… by the numbers — Statistics Canada

[2] Food waste in the home — Love Food Hate Waste