What’s the scariest thing about Halloween? The waste.
The October holiday has become a bit of an environmental nightmare, thanks to the mass production of disposable decorations and costumes, not to mention candy wrappers, that aren’t recyclable or biodegradable.
But celebrating the spookiest holiday doesn’t have to be harmful for the environment. Here are 5 ways to keep Halloween boo-tifully sustainable (and save some money) without sacrificing any of the fun!
Deck out your haunted mansion with low (or zero) waste decorations.
You don’t have to break the bank buying new Halloween decorations every year (most of which are produced with plastic). There are so many natural options and fun DIY projects that you can do with items already in your home! You can look for ideas online, but here are a few to get you started:
— Beyond pumpkins, use other seasonal food items like gourds, squash, dried corn husks and apples. You can also use dried flowers, twigs and leaves to create a cozy autumn vibe on your porch!
– Upcycle jars or bottles from your kitchen into festive candles and lanterns. If you’re feeling particularly ghoulish, fill them with colored liquid and cut paper into warning labels that say poison or witch’s brew.
– Use black yarn to create spiderwebs on your walls or prop up white sheets to look like ghosts!
Make a wickedly clever costume that can be reused or recycled!
Homemade costumes are always the party favorites anyway, right? There are so many DIY Halloween costumes you can make from items you already have at home, or by getting a little creative with completely recyclable supplies (cardboard is great for this — turn yourself into a robot or Rubik’s Cube!).
If you’re not the DIY type, consider doing a costume swap with friends, raiding someone’s closet or checking out a secondhand thrift store in your neighborhood!
Stock up on the right kinds of devilish candy for trick-or-treaters.
One big way to reduce your Halloween waste is by buying candy that has recyclable wrapping. You might be surprised to realize that a lot of single-use candy wrappers are made of a mix of materials that aren’t recyclable or even biodegradable. They end up filling our landfills after Halloween or falling as litter on the streets.
The good news is there are many candy brands that are recyclable. Look for candy that’s wrapped in 100% aluminum foil (like chocolate kisses) or cardboard (like Junior Mints or Milk Duds).
You can also buy candy in bulk to reduce the number of individual wrappers and hand it out in cardboard goodie boxes or festive cloth bags!
Compost those Jack-o-Lanterns!
When you’re ready to toss your pumpkins and gourds, remember to compost them instead of adding them to your trash. Composting is a great way to add nutrient-rich soil to your garden.
Every part of your pumpkin is compostable (but if you leave the seeds in, you might have your own pumpkin patch next year!). Just remember to remove any candles or paint that you might have added.
If your friends or neighbors aren’t into composting, you can offer to take their pumpkins for them. If you yourself don’t have any yard or garden space, consider looking for a community garden or farm that could benefit from the compost.
Host a Halloween monster mash that doesn’t produce waste.
If you’re hosting a Halloween party, try to make it as close to zero waste as you can!
Encourage your guests to come in DIY or secondhand costumes (tip: tell them there’s a costume contest for best homemade outfit!). You can also ask them to bring food in containers and to take home any leftovers so there isn’t food waste.
And when it comes to the “boos,” be sure to recycle every bottle or can! Leave your recycling bin out with instructions so your guests know where to toss their empty beverages.
Organize or attend a Halloween litter cleanup!
A lot of litter is left in the streets during Halloween — like candy wrappers, outdoor decorations blown by the wind or parts of costumes dropped by trick-or-treaters.
The good news is there are many litter cleanup efforts around Halloween that you can join, or even organize yourself! If the good feeling you’ll get by volunteering to help the environment isn’t enough, these events often give you another chance to flaunt your costume on the streets!
Keep America Beautiful has nearly 700 affiliate groups across the country that help communities beautify their neighborhoods. Some of them, like Keep Charleston Beautiful in South Carolina, hold yearly Halloween litter cleanups, and many more could help you get started organizing something on your own!
Find a KAB affiliate near you to help make your community’s Halloween a litter-free, eco-friendly holiday!