Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability logo

We've got a new name! Read the announcement. (A new website is under development.)

October 26, 2022

A Greener Halloween

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Halloween can be fun and communal, but environmentally, it’s wasteful.

“I don’t want to destroy the spirit of the festivities,” said Elizabeth Albright, “but there are things we can do to make the holiday more climate and environmentally friendly.” Albright, an associate professor of practice at the Nicholas School of the Environment, is one of several Duke experts with suggestions for a green Halloween on costumes, decorations, and trick-or-treating.

Rachel Karasik, a policy associate at the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability, suggested repurposing old clothes, materials and supplies for decorations and costumes. ”Avoid costumes that are made with plastic (including microfibers) as these may leach micro- and nano-plastics and chemical additives into the environment," she said. Karasik recommended Durham’s Scrap Exchange as a place to buy and donate materials for costumes, decorations and other Halloween DIY projects.

Voting also matters. The plastic waste and climate crises can’t be solved through changes in personal behavior alone, Karasik said.

“Shaming yourself or others for participating in Halloween and other festivities is exhausting, and in my opinion, ineffective in the long term,” she said.

Voting for candidates who support policies that protect the environment and climate – especially during midterms – is crucial, she said.

“Local decisions matter,” she said, “just as much as federal ones.”

Featured Experts