Halloween is a great time to be creative. I love the original costumes that parade to my front door. For me the challenge is how to be plastic-free? I don’t like candy packaging that can’t be recycled and will lie in a garbage dump for 5oo years and struggle every year to find a sustainable treat. Beyond Plastic has some terrific decorating, costume and treat suggestions for a plastic-free Halloween:
First, create a reusable bag to carry with you. turn a washable shopping bag inside and decorate your bag. A perfect way to have your original candy collection bag!
Turn your clean reusable bag inside out and decorate.
Plastic-free ideas from Beyond Plastic:
Pick plastic-free packages. If you need to stick to packaged candies, there are some options that come wrapped in foil or small thin cardboard boxes. Candies like Dots, Milk Duds, and Junior Mints come in small cardboard boxes, Tootsie Rolls and other fruit chews and Dubble Bubble come wrapped in paper, and there are many small Halloween-themed chocolates that come wrapped in foil that, at least in theory, could be collected and recycled
Try to avoid buying new costumes in one of those desperate last-minute trips to the seasonal Halloween Stores that pop up like mushrooms in October because they are cheaply made and are almost always made entirely from plastic.
Instead, plan ahead and visit your local thrift store to find they key elements you need to make your own costumes. Most thrift stores also have pre-loved costumes for sale and you may find a great ready-made costume that way if you start looking early enough. You can also try to borrow either a whole costume or the key elements you need to create your own from a friend or family member. I’ve found that social media can be a big help in crowdsourcing costume ideas, entire costumes, or just certain “ingredients” for them.
Likewise, if you have costumes your kids have outgrown or that you’ve grown tired of, snap a few photos of them and invite your friends to use them this year. Hopefully, they’ll return the favor and you can all save some time, money, and material from the landfill this way.
If you want to deck out your house, go for it! But do your best to steer clear of single-use and cheap plastic items that are likely to end up in the trash after a single use. Fortunately, nature makes a gorgeous line of non-toxic, fully compostable Halloween decorations in the form of pumpkins and other decorative gourds along with hay bales, reeds, and ornamental corn.
Here are a few ideas to try, all of which are great activities to do with kids:
- Carve pumpkins (this one goes without saying!)
- Consider inviting some friends to join you outside on a sunny weekend day and serve (reusable) mugs of mulled cider and donuts to make it a party.
- After you’ve scooped out the seeds from your pumpkins, assign someone to clean the goop off them and then roast them for a nutritious and tasty fall snack. Scroll down to the end of this post for the simple directions to make roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Click here for some great jack-o-lantern ideas. One fun switch can be to cut the bottom of the pumpkin off rather than the top and rest it on a plate with the cut side down. This allows you to retain the stem which you can turn into an interesting hairdo feature. We also love the “puking” pumpkin concept in which you use the “guts” of the pumpkin.
- Help younger kids to draw their designs on and make sure to handle any tricky knife-work.
- Provide candles or LED lights for each pumpkin and light them up when night falls for all to enjoy.
- Make your own scarecrows. Dig through your ragbag to find some old clothes, buy a bale of hay, stuff the clothes with with hay, and top with a pumpkin head or a burlap or paper grocery bag on which you’ve drawn a funny face. When you’re through with the scarecrows, remove the hay, wash the old clothes and either return them to the rag bag or donate them if there’s still life in them, and compost the rest of the materials. If you live near a farm, note that many farm animals love to eat discarded pumpkins.
- Choose LEDs. If you want to light your house up at night beyond the jack-o-lanterns, make sure you purchase LED string lights as they use significantly less energy (hence lower carbon emissions) and will also last longer than incandescent bulbs will.
- Make “Halloween Trees”. This idea comes from a project that our digital director grew up doing and that she now does with her own kids. Search outside for fallen branches that mimic the look of gnarled spooky old trees. “Plant” the tree branch in a pot of dirt. Then let the fun begin! Make decorations by cutting bats, black cats and witches out of construction paper and hanging them from the branches with string. Search for small rounded or rectangular stones to serve as gravestones that you can write or paint on “RIP So and So”, “Here Lies…”, and half bury them in the dirt. If you feel like getting really creative, bust out the clay and sculpt some pumpkins, a witch or a skeleton to sprinkle around the ground below the tree. This can keep kids entertained for hours and you can save the best decorations for years to come and continue building on your spooky scenes. Beyond Plastic
- Make Halloween Plastic-Free! — Beyond Plastics – Working To End Single-Use Plastic Pollution
- More plastic-free Halloween ideas.