Ideas to Make Halloween a little more Eco-Friendly
Is your family celebrating Halloween this year? Concerned about the amount of waste as a result? You know, the “use once” costumes, all of the candy wrappers, decorations, plastic cups and cutlery for parties, and the waste of a perfect edible pumpkin. And all the candy kids come home with that they don’t even like, so it goes in the trash. When you start thinking of the “one use” items and the amount of plastic involved, it gets very scary, even for Halloween!
Although it’s fun to dress up as our favorite characters and eat tons of chocolate once a year – maybe there are ways to make it a little healthier and more sustainable.
Eco Friendly Halloween Treats
All of those mini-candies are mostly wrapped in plastic, even many all natural and organic ones. And you know they don’t all get recycled. Many parents love it when kids come home with other reusable and fun treats. Younger kids especially love to get other trinkets. And there are so many kids these days with nut allergies, and many parents only eat organic, etc. This makes it hard to know what kind of candy to hand out.
So, take some time to think about what kinds of treats do you want your kids to come home with – and offer them instead of candy. Some ideas are Halloween themed pencils and erasers, reusable stamps, spider rings, mini fun & game books, bookmarks, small bouncy balls, mini box of raisins, mini crayons, mini spinning toys, mini slinkies, porcupine balls. Some of these are made of plastic, but they are at least reusable.
If you want to hand out candy – consider candy that comes in cardboard boxes, wrapped in paper or foil, which can be recycled or composted. But keep in mind these will likely come in plastic bags.
Another fun, but maybe not that popular idea, is to decorate small oranges or bananas with funny faces.
If you’re OK with maybe not winning the neighborhood popularity contest this year, you could always hand out seed packets and inspire budding gardeners.
Trick or Treat Containers
Instead of using a plastic bucket to trick or treat, use a cloth bag or even an old pillowcase.
How to make your Halloween costumes more Eco-Friendly?
Most Halloween costumes are made from cheap (plastic) materials like polyester. Some ideas:
DIY — shop your closet first, do you have an old prom dress? Or maybe an old retro bowling shirt you can use? Once you have an idea of what you have, head on over to Pinterest and do a search.
Thrift/ Consignment — checking out local thrift, consignment or vintage shops is a great way to find something that you can repurpose into a cute costume.
Apps – Use apps like Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor to see what your neighbors have to offer. You may even find people to swap last year’s costumes with.
Eco-Friendly Halloween Makeup
How scary is a vampire, zombie, or witch costume on Halloween? Pretty scary, when you consider what chemicals might be lurking in the Halloween makeup! From lead and artificial dyes to plasticizers and parabens, there can be a host of toxic chemicals found in conventional Halloween makeup. Instead, try these tips for a happy, safe Halloween.
- Use natural makeup, found in many health food stores, to paint your face. Use a natural eyeliner to draw whiskers, to create shadowing for the nose, or to make ghastly dark circles below the eyes. Blend natural eyeshadows in shades of deep blue, grey, and green to create realistic-looking bruises.
- Nail polish is notorious for containing phthalates. Look for nontoxic nail polish from brands like Piggy Paint – www.piggypaint.com
- Lipstick can bring an entire costume together, but it too contains some scary ingredients, including lead contamination. This is especially dangerous for young children who may lick it off their lips. Choose a natural lipstick by reading the labels carefully.
- Avoid chemical-laden colored hairsprays. To make your hair look grey, apply some natural hair gel, then dab on some talc-free baby powder or cornstarch using a cotton ball.
- Make your own makeup, using ingredients from your kitchen and bathroom - check Pinterest or YouTube for easy recipes.
- Check out nontoxic brands like Natural Earth Paint – www.naturalearthpaint.com and Go Green Organic Face Paint - www.gogreenorganicproducts.com
Avoid wearing a mask this Halloween. Masks are often made of PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, a substance that is damaging to the environment. Mask wearers are forced to breathe in potentially damaging off-gassing fumes from the phthalates in these masks. All-latex masks are available, but some people have severe allergic reactions to latex, and any mask worn over the whole face limits visibility, breathing, and talking.
It doesn’t seem like Halloween without a Jack-o-Lantern, right? We carve faces in them, light them up and throw them out. Scary! So, how can we do better?
Compost it! — Please don’t put it in the garbage. Remove all the seeds and place them in your compost bin. If you don’t have a compost bin or pile, check nearby farms, or community gardens to see if they collect old pumpkins.
Bury it – If you don’t have a compost heap, simply bury your old jack-o-lantern. Microbes and other critters in the soil will get to work eating up the pumpkin and turning it into rich soil.
Make a Pumpkin Planter – If you have a pumpkin, you have not carved – just cut the top off, remove the seeds and drill a small hole in the bottom of the pumpkin for drainage. Fill with potting soil and plant your favorite seasonal plants inside!
Feed Wildlife! — This is a great way to reuse a pumpkin – turn it into a snack-o-lantern for wildlife! So many fun and easy ideas on Pinterest – like this one at Pumpkin Bird Feeder - Family Days Tried And Tested.
Feed it to your chickens – If you have chickens or know someone who does – your jack-o-lantern can make for a delicious chicken snack! Pumpkins are loaded with vitamins A, B, C, E and Zinc. Some farmers swear pumpkin is an effective dewormer.
Use the seeds! — You can roast them for yourself or feed them to the birds. If you are feeding them to wildlife, collect seeds from your pumpkins before composting them, and let the seeds dry. Please don’t add salt or seasoning. Place seeds on a flat surface, tray, or shallow bowl, or mix in with existing bird seeds in your garden. And keep the flesh to make pumpkin soup or muffins.
Eco-Friendly DIY Halloween Decorations
Decorating for Halloween can be such fun but also very wasteful. Many of the decorations are made from non-recyclable plastics and get thrown away each year.
Use natural products to create a fun look, by looking for old mirrors, dolls, bottles, etc. Check Pinterest for ideas and get the kids involved.
Some ideas from the Sierra Club:
- Stroll through a park or woodland area collecting colorful leaves and twigs. Then store them in a mason jar or other repurposed jars and light candles behind them to create intriguing shadows.
- Create decorative ghosts with old bed sheets—tie a string around one end and stuff the “head” part with old newspapers.
- Collect the paper waste lying around your house. Make monsters out of paper-mache, and spider webs from natural twines.
- Embrace the humble ball of yarn. You can use it for anything from costumes (awesome rag doll wigs) to decor (cobwebs, wacky spiders, and ghosts and pumpkins and bats), and you don’t even need any needlework skills. Just look for yarn made from eco-friendly fiber.
- Cut recycled black paper into spooky Halloween shapes—cats, bats, witches—and then hang them from twine. Old jam jars can be decorated with similar cut-outs. With help from a tea light, they’ll make for a brilliant lantern.
We hope we were able to help give you some ideas on a fun but more sustainable Halloween ♥