This coming Halloween may be unlike past years due to COVID-19, but there are still plenty of ways to have a safe, spooky, and Earth-friendly holiday.

Iowa City's recycling coordinator Jane Wilch has a Jack-o'-lantern filled with fun ideas on how to have a green Halloween this year. 

Durable, reusable, recyclable Halloween decorations

Choose decorations that you can use year after year. For recyclable decorations, look for plastics that are #1-5 or #7, as #6 and unlabeled plastics are not recyclable. Avoid metallic or glitter-coated decorations, as these cannot be recycled. Questions? Check out

Eco-friendly costumes

Although we are recommending that trick-or-treaters avoid door-to-door contact this year, there are plenty of ways to get creative with and be sustainable with costumes.

Use what you already have around the house to create a costume, or shop for a costume secondhand! Use these ideas to participate in a socially-distanced Halloween parade! Check out our great selection of local secondhand and consignment stores for costumes. Make sure that in addition to a Halloween mask, a face covering over your nose and mouth will help keep you safe from COVID.

Give sustainable treats

Consider candy options with less packaging, or have organic or Fairtrade status. Alternatively, you can offer a treat other than candy!

Provide treats from a safe distance, from your driveway, or in your yard. Light the path to your treats and direct traffic away from your door. Wear a face mask over your nose and mouth, and remember, Halloween masks do not protect against COVID.

Sometimes, individually-wrapped candy is the easiest and safest option. In this case, you can still make a difference by recycling the candy wrappers through Terracycle. Connect with your neighbors to fill up a box to send to Terracycle.

Collect your candy and treats in a reusable or durable option

Use a reusable cloth bag, pillow case, or wicker basket (among many other options) to carry your candy around while trick-or-treating. Always wear your face coverings, and don’t forget the hand sanitizer!

Compost your pumpkins and gourds

To compost at the curb, remove any candles or lights from inside your pumpkin and place it in your organics container (City cart, or personal 20-35 gallon upright container), or in a paper yard waste bag, and then set it at the curb for collection on your normal service day.

Residents can also take pumpkins to the Iowa City Landfill’s compost facility to be composted at no charge. 

A PDF version of this guide is also available online. Questions? Call our Recycling Coordinator Jane Wilch at 319-887-6110.

A safe Halloween during COVID-19 pandemic

With input from the Johnson County Public Health Department, the City has issued safety recommendations for a safe and fun Halloween. Read how you can stay safe at our website

Date of publication

Thursday, October 08, 2020