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29 Fun Ways To Have A Happy, Sustainable Halloween

By Recyclebank |

Reduce waste and save money this Halloween. From decor to candy, we’ve got the tips and tricks you need for a greener Halloween.

Between all the scary movies, haunted houses, and creepy costumes that pop up throughout the Halloween season, it’s easy to miss the season’s real-life fright: The money levitating out of our wallets and right into our landfills. American households are likely to spend over $85 on average celebrating Halloween this year — sadly many of those dollars will go toward decorations, costumes, and candy that head straight to a landfill on November 1st.

Of course, we wouldn’t be sharing this scary news if we didn’t have plenty of ways to cast an eco-friendly spell on this problem. Click below to see our 29 best tips for a greener Halloween, most of which save money as well!

DÉCOR

The approach

1. Decorate with things that can be composted, such as pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, hay, leaves, and sticks. Read More » (If your backyard isn’t ripe with fall decor, support a local farmer by going to a nearby Pick-Your-Own farm (PYO). Check out Local Harvest to find one.)

2. Opt for decorations that you can commit to reusing, either for next year’s Halloween celebrations, or for a totally unrelated purpose — for example, faux-spider-web material makes great pillow stuffing. Read More »

3. Make decorations from materials you’d otherwise recycle. Metal cans make great luminarias, milk jugs can be turned into fun “spirit jugs”, and egg cartons make great bats. Read More »


A few unique specifics

4. Don’t discount the old standbys: White sheets still work well as ghosts, scarecrows are best when decked out in old grubby clothes, and candles (bonus if they’re soy or beeswax) still cast a perfectly eerie glow. Read More »

5. Going for a real haunted house vibe? Check out used-building-materials stores for things like old windows. Read More »

PUMPKINS

Choose them

6. Get your pumpkin — along with your other fall food decor — directly from a local grower rather than a big box grocery store. Read More »

7. Choose the right pumpkin for the job, so you’ll have less waste. Hollow-er pumpkins are easier to carve (knock on the pumpkin; the louder the knock, the more hollow the pumpkin), and smaller varieties are better for cooking. Read More »


Use them to decorate

8. If you’re choosing between carving and painting, then carve: A painted pumpkin has to go in the trash afterwards, while a carved pumpkin can be returned to the earth in a variety of ways (more on that coming up!). Read More »

9. If you’re not going to carve the pumpkin, but still want to decorate it, dress it up with a fall motif instead of a spooky one — that way, it has the potential to last beyond Halloween and into Thanksgiving, pulling double-holiday-duty. Read More »

10. Store your pumpkin decor in a cool area; they’ll last longer, and as a result you’ll be less likely to have to refresh your pumpkin decor mid-season. If you’re in a cooler climate, keep the pumpkin outdoors. If you’re in a warmer climate, keep it in the shade, or indoors. Read More »

PUMPKINS

Use them for cooking

11. The flesh of a pumpkin makes wonderful pies, muffins, smoothies, soups, lasagnas, chilis, pastas, and even puddings. Read More »

12. Pumpkin seeds are great snacks you can prepare in the oven, on the stovetop, or even on a grill. Read More »


Dispose Of Them

13. If at all possible, compost your pumpkin — even if that means just smashing it and burying it in your garden to supplement the soil. Just be sure it’s not painted. Read More »

14. If you’re lucky enough to have a neighbor with chickens, see if they’d like to take your pumpkin to use as chicken feed. Read More »

COSTUMES

Create your costume

15. Make like a witch and go green with your makeup! (Okay, okay, not that kind of green.) Opt for makeup that’s safer for the environment and your skin by checking makeup ingredients against those verified by the Environmental Working Group, or just create your own makeup from scratch. Read More »

16. Make a costume with clothes and materials you have on hand. You probably already have everything you need to become a historical character like Johnny Appleseed or Rosie the Riveter, or to whip up the get-up to go as a fortune teller or hippie. Read More » ...And More »

17. Check out a local thrift store to round out your costume ideas with things you might not have in your closet — think tacky tourist or American Gothic. Read More »

18. Go all out, albeit temporarily, by renting a costume. Read More »

19. Turn Halloween into an eco-lesson by going in a costume with a green angle. You can easily become Vampire Energy or Mother Nature with things from around the house or acquired at a thrift shop. Read More »

COSTUMES

Dispose of your costume

20. Donate your used costumes to thrift stores. Read More »

21. Organize a costume swap with friends and neighbors; not only will you get rid of a costume you won’t be using again, but you’ll acquire a new-to-you costume for next year. Read More »

22. Don’t just save money: Make money, by selling your costumes. Read More »

23. Recycle your costumes through a textile-recycling program. (Don’t put them in your recycling container!) Read More »

TREATS

Better treats

24. Choose your candy more consciously. Go for bulk candy, or organic, or choose candy in recyclable wrappers — there aren’t many, but Hershey’s Kisses, wrapped in aluminum foil, are one. You could also go a totally different route by giving out something other than candy, like pencils, or even coins. Read More »

25. Avoid the store-bought plastic pumpkin bucket and collect treats with a bucket, bag, or pillowcase you already have at home. If you can’t resist getting something new, seek out a reusable shopping bag in a ghoulish color or pattern so you can use it year after year. Read More »


Improved disposal

26. If you’re approaching candy overload and need to get a bulk of it out of the house, donate it (Operation Gratitude is a great option, as are local shelters) or try the Switch Witch. Read More »

27. If the candy’s getting boring, try using it differently: Chop it up and bake it into cookies or bars, sprinkle it onto sundaes, make candy bark, or even get ready for the winter holidays and make a candy garland. Read More »

28. Save candy wrappers and upcycle them into crafts. Read More »

29. Recycle the candy wrappers — but not in your recycling container! Instead, buy a Candy and Snack Wrappers Zero Waste Box from TerraCycle (you could go in on it with friends, neighbors, or your neighborhood school). Read More »

There you have it. If you follow even just a few of these ideas, you’ll be helping to reduce waste this Halloween, and you may even inspire your friends and neighbors to do the same!


What do you do to make your Halloween a bit greener? Share any tips you have in the comments below!

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Gina L. 26 days ago
    Chickens, goats, sheep, and any other animal are great for adding to a costume. You can use the feathers, wool and whatever to add to a sheet or old clothes. However, you may not smell so good. Mix and match the animals' fur or fur to make creative fun.
  • Anne W. 26 days ago
    When I was a kid my siblings and I spent the last two weeks in October with our heads in the rag bag trying to decide what we wanted to wear for Halloween. Costume after costume was tried and rejected or put in the "maybe" file. It was so much fun! I never bought my children any costumes; they made their own just as we did as children. (I must admit that I was a tad displeased when Alicia cut eyeholes in a brand new sheet!) We've given out yoyos, toothbrushes, and various other things. This year my husband will get home from a medical facility on Halloween day, and he's the official candy-giver-outer. So it will be candy this year.
    • Kelly F. 18 days ago
      you can also swap costumes w/ friends/neighbors/coworkers etc. or keep a costume for years (as an adult this works (we're done growing lol)
  • mary B. 28 days ago
    Margaret you are so right. Down South we do not have really bad weather.Just in case I've put a blanket and a case of water in my trunk. Thanks Mary
  • Tom H. 29 days ago
    I don't think ANYONE who has a neighbor with chickens (and therefore, likely roosters as well) considers themselves lucky.
    • Anne W. 26 days ago
      We have a neighbor with six hens--no roosters. I enjoy hearing them. They talk to each other and sometimes they brag and boast. I grew up on a chicken farm, and to me that's the sound of home!
  • mary B. 30 days ago
    Empty your car trunk and save on gas,Guess I never saw it that way.It's empty now.
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