Halloween candy is a sweet, delicious tradition, but it also creates a ton of waste.
Americans spent an estimated $2.6 billion on Halloween candy in 2019 — and since most processed candy comes in plastic packaging, the remains of each sweet treat usually end up in a landfill.
But last year, one Reddit user found an elegant alternative to this issue. Rather than handing out wasteful (and unhealthy) candies on Halloween night, user u/iobuddha created a massive pile of thrifted toys for neighborhood kids to put in their bags.
“I’m a vintage toy & clothing reseller and I had plenty of overstock,” they explained in their post to the r/ZeroWaste subreddit. “I handed out Happy Meal toys (mostly from the 90s), Disney plush dolls, and I had cases of fidget spinners, among other random packaged toys.”
Other users were supportive of the endeavor and some gave stories of their own experiences.
“This is how my mom and I distributed her Beanie Baby collection about 15 years ago. You’re right, the kids were delighted!” one commenter said.
“You rock! This has been a rough few years, and those kids got an awesome Halloween surprise!” another chimed in.
Halloween-related waste has long been a subject of debate, whether it’s candy, costumes, or pumpkins, which almost always end up in a landfill.
Lisa Morton, a writer who has written multiple books on the holiday, has shared some shocking waste statistics related to spooky season.
“A single trick-or-treater generates one pound of trash at Halloween,” she stated last year. “When you consider that we have over 40 million trick-or-treaters, boy, that is a lot of trash.”
Trick-or-treating presents other waste problems, too. U.K.-based environmental group Hubbub estimates that “disposable” Halloween outfits create 2,000 tons of plastic waste every year — roughly equivalent to throwing away 83 million plastic bottles. Since the majority of costumes are made of non-compostable plastics, they almost all end up in landfills, where they can’t decompose.
Follow The Cool Down on Instagram and TikTok.