Halloween is such a fun and magical time for kids (and adults!) but it isn’t too great for the environment. From the disposable plastic costumes to the disposable plastic and mixed candy wrappers….we got somewhat of a problem. Not to fear! Our team at SKL has gathered together the full list of low-waste Halloween treats (candy included!) for the ultimate trick-or-treat goodies!
Limited Low Waste Halloween Candy Options
This was surprisingly difficult to do and there are not many options but hopefully, this will change soon. Many candy companies have vowed to be 100% recyclable by 2025. The main reason that most of the candy options are not low-waste or recyclable is because the cardboard has been mixed with plastic or lined with wax (which is not able to be recycled). Please check the labels before assuming something is recyclable to help out our waste management & recycling center friends.
The problem with small cardboard boxes and foil
While small cardboard boxes (think tiny boxes of junior mints) and foil (like those little hershey kisses) are technically able to be recycled, they cannot be recycled “as is” for most recycling centers. They are just too small and can cause damage to the machines. If your kiddo comes home with a bunch of small boxes and foil wrappers – do your best to keep them together. Place all the small boxes into one big box before recycling and bunch all of the foil together to make one big ball. Note: If the foil does not rip extremely easily – it has been mixed with plastic and is not recyclable.
What’s the point if nobody recycles the wrappers?
It is extremely important to note that after we hand our treats out, we have no idea if they will be recycled or not. Because of this, I do want to urge everyone to limit the amount of treats given (keep it to one per child) and do not hesitate to give a little nudge (if you feel so inclined) of “don’t forget to recycle!” or “in case you want to recycle, this is how you should go about it”. And who knows, maybe after this year, kids will never return to your home again and you’ll truly be a low waster during Halloween haha.
Healthy Options (Including Vegan Approved) vs Recyclable Options
If you would rather have healthy candy options (think organic lollipops) that do not come in recyclable packaging over questionable candy (think regular lollipops) that comes in recyclable packaging – we have a full guide for you as well. Check out our guide to safe and non-toxic candy for littles – vegan approved candies are listed!
p.s. Don’t forget to also check out our guide to eco-friendly Halloween costumes!
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Full Guide to Low Waste Halloween Treats!
The unpackaged options *For friends and family*
We live in a world that has just gone through a pandemic. There’s a good chance trick or treating will never be what it used to be. We polled our community and found that the majority of parents will be sticking to “close circle” trick-or-treating. If this is you, skip the packaged candy all together and opt for these truly zero waste or low waste halloween treat options!
1. Freshly popped popcorn
4. Freshly baked cookies
5. Candy corn
6. Bulk store gummies
7. Bulk store candies
The packaged options
Note: Cardboard, cans, and foil are all recyclable but candy companies love to sneak in plastic into the cardbaord and foil. Be sure to double check if the box/foil is truly recyclable. There’s a great list here!
Alter Eco Truffles is at the top of our list because of its amazing compostable packaging and recyclable boxes. They are not cheap though – you are absolutely getting what you pay for. High-quality, organic & fairtrade chocolate truffles that are made with the Earth in mind.
To be quite honest, I’d hand out some fresh apples and keep these beauties for myself – but that’s just me! I do not see anyone spending this dollar amount on trick-or-treat candy, but if you do – I want to come to your house haha.
Availability: Most USA shops have these truffles. From our reasearch, we found them in Whole Foods, Target and Walmart!
Junior mints come from the infamous tootsie roll company and the box is 100% recyclable if recycled correctly. Please remember to place smaller candy boxes inside larger ones to avoid getting stuck in the machines.
What’s in junior mints? I was curious so I took a look. Sugar, Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Vanillin [an Artificial Flavor]), Corn Syrup, Confectioner’s Glaze, Modified Food Starch, Peppermint Oil, Invertase (an Enzyme), Soya Albumin (a Protein), Gelatin.
Availability: Most shops in the USA carry Junior Mints
3. Pixy Sticks
I grew up loving these little paper-wrapped sugar candies. These are simply powdered candy inside a paper tube. Pixy sticks now come in plastic (much larger) tubes as well – but let’s stick with the paper sticks.
Not so shocking, there is nothing healthy about these sticks. I’m a bit shocked by the ingredients: Dextrose, Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, And Less Than 2% O Natural Flavors, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake.
Availability: Most shops carry pixy sticks but maybe not the paper straws – plastic seems to be more popular.
M&M’s is owned by the Mars company (think snickers and uncles bens) and comes in recyclable cardboard boxes. The M&M bag is not recyclable.
This is a good size for recycling but runs over $1.00 per box – so it depends on your Halloween trick or treat budget or how many kiddos come knocking on the door. When we were growing up, there was one house that always had big boxes of candy like this, and we would line up outside their door every year!
M&M ingredients are very much the same as other candies from the time: Milk chocolate, cornstarch, sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, coloring (red 40 included), carnauba wax, and gum acacia.
Availability: M&M’s are sold almost everywhere
Skittles is another candy owned by the Mars company (I’m assuming most Mars candy is recyclable because they use the same cardboard boxes). These larger boxes are great for recycling. The skittles bags are not recyclable.
After getting pretty educated on candy from this post, it’s clear that the Mars brand sticks to the same basic ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, coloring (red 40, yellow 5, etc), hydrogenated palm kernel oil, dextrin, artificial flavors, etc.
Availability: Skittles are sold almost everywhere
Reese’s pieces are owned by the Hershey company and come in a recyclable cardboard box. This size is great for recycling but they also come in mini cardboard boxes. The Reese’s bags are not recyclable.
The ingredients in the Reese’s pieces are similar to the Mars brand: Hydrogenated vegetable oil, corn syrup, dextrose, colorings (red 40, yellow 5, blue 1, etc), etc.
*By the way, I am completely turned off by all candies now that I have written this post. Yikes.*
Availability: 7-eleven almost always has Reese’s pieces
5. Canned Soda
I never would have considered canned soda as a Halloween treat, but our community said this was one of their kid’s favorite treats. Who would have thought?!
One great thing about canned soda (or canned juices) is that recycling is a breeze and most folks recycle cans. You can use any canned product you like, but we thought we would feature a healthier take on soda with the sparking tonics.
Availability: Canned sodas are sold everywhere
I really wish we could have provided more options for our community for low waste Halloween treats – but sadly, we are not there yet. Here’s hoping to a brighter future with eco-friendly packaging and safer ingredients.
More Halloween Blog Posts
- 10 Amazing Organic and Non-Toxic Candy Brands for Halloween
- Super Simple (and QUICK!) Low-Waste Halloween Costume Ideas For 2021