Live Green and Earn Points


The List

6 Ways Your Fall Decor Could Be More Sustainable 5

By |

Better-quality decorations and natural materials mean less waste at the end of the season. Be smart and festive!

Part of the fun of anticipating the fall holiday season is decorating the house to reflect the coming festivities. While it’s tempting to run to the nearest dollar store to stock up on inexpensive cardboard cutouts, window clings, and that polyester spider-webby stuff, keep in mind that those are the most wasteful options. Not only are many of those items made from non-recyclable materials, but also you get what you pay for: Chances are cheap decorations will be too flimsy to be saved. You’ll likely end up throwing them away and starting from square one next year. What a waste!

Instead, use these ideas for fall holiday decorations that won’t end up in the trash.

1. Invest in high-quality pieces

If Halloween, Thanksgiving, and autumn in general is truly one of your favorite times of the year, it’s worth it to invest in a few well-made decorative pieces that will stand the test of time. Look for durable items like glazed ceramic pumpkins, or wooden or wrought iron outdoor decorations, and when the season is over, store them carefully so they’ll be in great shape for next year.

2. Use washable fabric decor

Another way to dress up your home for the fall in a long-lasting way is to decorate with fabric, such as pumpkin-orange tablecloths, or cotton wall hangings or flags. These items can easily be washed and folded at the end of the season, so they’re just as festive when you pull them out next year!

3. Choose pieces that will last all season

Instead of decking your house out in spooky ghosts, faux tombstones, and giant spiders for Halloween, then swapping those out for cornucopias and turkeys in November, think a little more broadly with your décor. Focus on harvest colors like orange, red, and brown, and decorate with un-carved pumpkins. (As a bonus, they’ll last longer than jack-o’-lanterns, and you can even cook them after they’ve graced your front steps!) Or, go with general autumn motifs like colored leaves, corn stalks, and other symbols of fall harvest.

4. Use decorations from nature

Rather than buying décor made of synthetic materials, gather beautiful natural items to create centerpieces and mantel displays. Gorgeous multicolored leaves, a bowl full of bright red pomegranates, or golden pears, ears of multicolored corn, unusually shaped squash and gourds, and interesting branches can all be incorporated into fall-themed décor, and it can be eaten, composted or disposed of with your yard waste afterwards.

5. Upcycle household items

Take a look around your house and see what you might be able to upcycle into seasonal ornamentation. I’ve seen instructions on cutting up old sweaters to make stuffed pumpkins or using an old rusted Bundt cake pan to make a fall wreath to hang on the door.

6. Check out a thrift store

Buying something used helps extend its lifespan and diverts it from the landfill. And the more people who reuse the stuff that’s already been manufactured, the fewer natural resources are used to produce more brand-new items. A thrift store is a great source for holiday decorations or fodder to make your own — a scarecrow assembled from thrifted clothing, perhaps?

Now that you’re all set with some ideas on how to decorate your house more sustainably, all you need to do is settle on a fun eco-themed Halloween costume!


How do you make your fall decorations more sustainable? Tell us your best tips in the comments below.

Share with Your Friends & Family
About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

  • Karen P. 24 days ago
    I never carve our Halloween pumpkin. After Halloween, I clean it, cook it down, and make copious amounts of pumpkin/cranberry/raisin bread and an occasional pumpkin pie.
  • Rebecca D. 1 month ago
    Our boys grow pumpkins, starting in June, and we take out the seeds for the next year. We give to our friends & keep enough for cooking & decorating. We smash gallon milk cartons to place the pumpkins on once they start growing. They need to be off the ground. Win-Win.
  • ava o. 1 month ago
    I love to put out my collection of glass pumpkins and gourds along with real pine cones in bowls and baskets and one here and there on shelves and end tables all threw the house, Sept thru Nov, this gives me 3 lovely months of fall decorations.
  • Samathy H. 1 month ago
    I love autumn decorations! I have some artificial "jack-o-lanterns," and some pumpkins that have expression related to Thanksgiving on them (i.e., "Give Thanks"). What I do is put them on wall shelves, or tables/dressers that are against a wall, throughout the entire fall season, turning these decorations around for Halloween or Thanksgiving and then back again as desired. That way, they get a lot of use, year after year.

    In the realm of using items from nature, I was visiting a relative who lives in an area with huge oak trees, many years ago, and gathered a bag of large acorns to bring home. I put them out on a coffee table in a nice dish, every autumn. (I did have to glue some of their "caps" back on after several years, but a little household glue took care of that). They bring a touch of "real autumn" to my Florida home.
  • tommy b. 1 month ago
  • View More