Sustainable Halloween ideas – How to have an eco friendly spooky season

With my birthday so close to Halloween, it’s always been one of my favourite holidays. Although I don’t celebrate it as much as I would as a kid, such as trick or treating, dressing up, or going to parties, I still love to decorate, carve pumpkins, and watching scary movies with my family.

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Halloween is a particularly wasteful time of year, with over 8 million pumpkins wasted in the UK alone! It’s not just pumpkins that can be a wasteful part of the season though, with thousands of old costumes, cheap disposable decorations, treats wrapped in plastic, and all sorts of accessories such as treat buckets, wands, and brooms thrown out every year.

It can be quite overwhelming to think about all the waste and how to find good alternatives, especially if you’re often pressed for time, money, or have young kids who just *have* to have a certain thing from the halloween section in the store. And while it can be very tempting to go for the cheap and easily alternative, you have to remember that every single halloween product will be on the planet for longer than you can imagine.

Having a sustainable and eco friendly halloween can not only be really good for the environment, it can be really fun to do and bring out your creative side for all those decorations and costumes for each year to come.

I’ve created a list of sustainable halloween ideas which can help with lessening your impact this season, all from getting your best pumpkin, making your own decorations, and getting the most out of your costumes. Of course take from this what you need, as everything might not work for you but is always good to pass on what you can to others!

Go pumpkin picking at a local farm

One way that you can get your pumpkin this year is to go to a local farm and pick your own! I find this such a fun activity to do with my family and it always has such a wonderful and spooky atmosphere about it.

Getting your pumpkin from a local farm not only means that you are supporting your local economy, but it’s also better for your carbon footprint! A lot of the time pumpkins can be shipped from other countries that grow them to keep up with the demand that we create for them each year.

Of course in stores, most veg including pumpkins come with price stickers. Buying local also means that you’re not contributing to plastic waste when getting your pumpkins.

Eating up your pumpkin

With around 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin being wasted each year, around 40% being bought just for carving, and 60% of those just get thrown away afterwards rather than using their flesh to eat.

Eating your pumpkin after carving (before it goes off and mouldy of course) is a great way to reduce your food waste. There are so many different recipes you can make with pumpkins, such as curries, cookies, muffins, pasta, risotto, basically anything you can think of. A lot of the time you can switch out butternut squash or even sometimes sweet potatoes for pumpkin in recipes, as its a really versatile ingredient.

There are loads of different Instagram accounts now that have zero waste or food waste ideas. One of my favourites is Max La Manna, as he’s made so many different no food waste recipes, including these Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

Second-hand or home-made costumes

Buying new Halloween costumes each year is an incredibly wasteful part of the season, so why not try and buy second hand or make your own?

Most of the fabrics that make Halloween costumes are made of polyesters, which not only give off micro plastics if washed, but tend to not be very durable and so break or tear very easily. A lot of the time costumes are also bedazzled with sequins or glitter, which can be incredibly harmful to the environment when they fall off or sprinkle onto the ground, as these also give off micro plastics and can be toxic to wildlife.

When deciding your halloween costume this year, try to think about what you already own that you could make into an outfit. Do you have any clothes that don’t quite fit nicely or are a little torn? You could always get out the sewing machine and see if you can make any outfit pieces yourself.

Looking for second hand items or whole costumes is a great idea, especially if you have kids who tend to grow out of their costumes by the next spooky season. You can find all sorts of ideas from charity and thrift stores, or even online.

Another good shout is to always try renting out a costume. These can usually be around the same price (if not only a little more) than getting a store bought costume, and what’s even better is that you don’t have to store it after! You could even use the same idea and share different costumes your friends might’ve had from previous years.

Candy/treats in recyclable or eco packaging

Trying to find sweets for those trick or treaters can always be a little bit of a struggle, especially if you want to try and be a little more eco conscious. My best bet is to usually go for treats that are either in recyclable packing such as aluminium foil or paper. Some ideas you could use:

  • Chocolates in foil – such as coins, eyeballs, eggs (Cadbury GooHeads are a good shout if you have the budget)
  • Paper bags of sweets from a local bulk store
  • Sweets or chocolate in cardboard boxes (Poppets come in cardboard boxes, as well as Nerds)
  • Plastic free gum
  • Boxes of dried fruit such as raisins
  • Oranges – you can always draw spooky faces on them with markers

Compostable/sustainable decorations

Having sustainable Halloween decorations that you can use for many years or to compost at the end of the season is always a good idea. The best thing to do is use stuff you already own, whether or not it’s made of plastic because it’s still being used and out of landfill.

A lot of Halloween decorations aren’t built to last. A lot of them are made of thin plastic, sticky wall/window decor that you can’t reuse (you know the ones I mean), or are made of stuff that breaks apart easily and litters the environment, such as spiders webs or stuff covered in glitter. There are plenty of eco or reusable decorations that you can save for future years or compost, or even repurpose at different times of the year such as parties or events.

Some decoration ideas you can use:

  • Autumn/fall foliage – Collect leaves, acorns, and pinecones to make cute decorations on your mantle or windowsills
  • Homemade witches brooms – Collecting twigs and a large branch, along with some twine to tie it all together, can make a simple but cute broom!
  • Tea light/candle holders – Reuse some old jars by either painting on ghosts or jack-o-lanterns, or collect some small twigs to glue onto the sides (make sure they’re shorter/the same height as the jar so the don’t become a fire hazard!)
  • Homemade wreathes – There are plenty of tutorials on home to make wreathes, which you could make from either some collected foliage or scraps of fabric.
  • Dried oranges – Buying some large oranges and drying them out in your oven or air fryer can make a really cute decoration. Once they’re dried out you can sew them into a garland and string around your windows. These can either be composted afterwards (if you use natural string to sew them together) or you could even save them for Christmas to put on your tree!
  • Crochet or knitted decorations – If you’re nifty with a needle or hook, you could easily make a cute autumnal garland, pinecones, or little pumpkins, which you can put around your house.

Getting second hand decorations from thrift stores or online is always something to look out for if you’re not so much the DIY type. You can always find cute buckets to use for treat jar, or creepy/spooky fabric that you could put up against windows.

Halloween party? Make your own spooky goodies

If you like to host Halloween parties each year, trying to make them more sustainable will not only be better for the planet, but better for you and your friends too.

Lots of parties tend to have a lot of single use items, such as tablecloths/runners, paper plates and cups, cake cases and boxes, you name it. Being able to make a Halloween or any kind of party more sustainable and eco friendly is always the best way to go. Here’s some ideas you can pinch:

  • Spooky fabric for tablecloths – Using a large piece of natural fabric such as cotton or linen for tablecloths will definitely cut down on your plastic waste. This means that they can be washed and reused for next year, and you can either buy already printed fabric or you could decorate it yourself!
  • Reusable plates and cups – If you’re hosting a kids party and don’t want to use glass or other breakables, why not get a load of second-hand plastic flatware and paint on spooky decorations. You can reuse these in future years and you’re keeping plastic out of landfill too.
  • Baking your own treats – Making your own creepy treats is a great way to not only keep the costs down but to keep your plastic consumption down too. Loads of pre-made treats come in all sorts of different single use packaging, so why not make your own? There’s tons of recipes on Pinterest to give you ideas, and by using reusables in your kitchen you’re saving money too.
  • Homemade party favours – If you’re planning on giving out party favours, why not have a shot at making some? You could make anything from bath bombs, remade crayons, or even make your own candles from old wax you have! You could also have a look into recycled pencils or other eco ideas on Etsy!

Host a scary movie night

Another great idea to do, especially if you’re looking for a more lowkey night in with friends or family, is to have a scary movie night. This can be pretty simple and easy to do, and you can always make the snacks yourself! If you have your own projector that could definitely enhance the scary vibe, and you could even light a candle or two (just don’t forget about them!)

Making low waste treats is always a fun activity to do before the movie starts. You could make your own popcorn and season however you like, make spooky cookies or brownies, or get something sweet from a local bulk store if that’s available to you.

That’s all the ideas I have so far, but let me know if you have any other spooky ideas or traditions for Halloween. Hope these help and have a Happy Halloween!

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