Falling leaves and Halloween, the spookiest time of year! And, even more frightening is the waste this holiday leaves behind. From candy wrappers to plastic decor, and store bought costumes, Halloween has become one of the most wasteful times of the year.
Halloween is now known globally for its waste, single use plastic and food waste. Pumpkins alone are one of the most wasted Halloween items. In Canada, over 80,000 metric tons of pumpkins are grown in Canadian farms, and in the US the number is very similar. 65% of all these fresh farm grown pumpkins are left clogging landfills instead of being eaten, baked, or composted.
The next biggest accounted for waste during Halloween, is the amount of plastic decor and costume items manufactured and discarded each year. Much of the plastic used in these items are mixed plastics or fibres that then make recycling incredibly difficult, meaning much of these complex materials like cheap masks and witch brooms are thrown to the landfill. Outdoor Halloween decor can also cause a disruption to animal habitats within your yard. Minimal and reused are the ways to go!
As a kid we always made homemade costumes from old clothes and thrifted finds, resulting in intricate and unique costumes. The same can be done with decor items, with a little creativity and upcycled materials, fall and Halloween decor can be much more environmentally friendly. Below are a few ideas for creating your own eco-friendly fall decor, and tips to have a less wasteful Halloween this year!
Low Waste Tips on Halloween Decor
Use real pumpkins – not plastic ones. But make sure, if you are going to use a real pumpkin, to properly dispose of it in a compost when the season is over. Regular pumpkins and sugar pumpkins can also both be consumed. They can be seeded, roasted, and added to many different baking recipes as well as soup, sauces, dressings, and casseroles. So whatever you do, use your pumpkins and compost what you don’t use!
Reuse glass jars and bottles – keep your glass recycling and use it to make spooky candle holders or light up decorations. Glass takes a lot of energy and water resources to be recycled, so the more each piece is reused, the better.
Try making a festive witch’s broom – This broom is so easy, natural, and all the materials can be found close to your home (I’m in a city and found everything within 100m of my yard). First, find yourself some dried long grass or straw/hay and take some scissors to it! Cut a couple large handfuls of grass and find a long stick with some nice curves. Position some grass on the ground and lay the stick over top, adding grass on top as well. Use a little twine to wrap the grass to the stick, tying it tightly, then wrapping the twine around over and over until you have about 1-2” of twine wrapped. After the grass is secured, trim the top and bottom. That’s it!
Recycled wall hanging bats – use some newspaper, or scrap paper to make a wall of bat silhouettes. Try making different sizes and bending the wings out from the walls using a flat edge or ruler.
Light up Decor – Many Halloween decor items require batteries for lighting up and making a space feel spooky. 99% of batteries during Halloween are not disposed of properly due to throwing out the plastic decor item with the batteries still inside. Batteries leak chemicals into landfills and are not great for the Earth. If you plan to use batteries to light up lanterns or fairy lights, consider buying rechargeable batteries and properly recycling ones that cannot be reused.
Wax leaves – Fallen leaves look so beautiful, and collecting and pressing them is a way to keep fall around longer. But don’t just leave them sitting under a pile of books. Try waxing your leaves by heating up beeswax and dipping the leaves one by one. I use an old candle heated fondue pot to melt wax, and once melted, the leaves can be dipped. Waxed leaves lengthen the longevity of pressed leaves and can make beautiful fall displays.
Reuse aluminium cans – try making a simple fall can lantern by making holes in the can using a hammer and nail or power drill. Draw your design onto the can first before making the holes.