Halloween is fun, but it can also be expensive and wasteful. If you want to celebrate Halloween without spending a lot of money or contributing to the waste stream, we’ve got eco-friendly Halloween ideas for you!
Follow these simple tips and save your hard-earned cash while staying green this year. Reduce waste, reuse things, and recycle your way to a green Halloween.
We’re having a sustainable Halloween this year with these ideas that will help keep your bank account happy and your conscience clear. Try a few of these ways to celebrate Halloween without a huge carbon footprint.
Have a costume swap with friends and neighbors
Halloween costumes cost money, which can be difficult for many families to afford on top of their usual monthly expenditures. However, Halloween is still an important cultural holiday for some people and Halloween costume swaps are a great way to reduce both the financial and ecological impact of Halloween.
Get a Halloween costume swap going with your neighbors or friends who have kids. You’ll save money on costumes for yourself and the other participants while keeping things out of the landfill.
How to host a Halloween costume swap:
- Host your swap early. Planning ahead is important or people will already have purchased new Halloween costumes.
- Have everyone bring their old costumes to the Halloween costume swap so you can see what your options are.
- Make sure everyone’s time is respected – have two Halloween costume swaps if necessary!
- Create rules. Have people bring a maximum of three costumes so you don’t have to share costumes if someone brings more than that.
- Decide ahead of time if there is going to be a cost involved – this could deter hoarders from participating and it will also help keep the Halloween costume swap manageable.
- Set up the space. Find a space where you can set out the Halloween costumes so people can sort through them. Make your space festive to get people in the mood for Halloween.
- Decide what to do with unclaimed Halloween costumes. If you have too many Halloween costumes, consider donating them to your local community center or school.
If you don’t want to set up a formal Halloween costume swap, just ask friends and family if you can borrow their children’s old Halloween costumes. But, remember, if you borrow, you should also LEND.
Worried you won’t get your costume BACK to use with your younger child? Put your name in it! Use Name Bubbles waterproof clothing labels to make sure everything gets back to its original owner. It’s also a great way to ensure that the costumes that YOU lend out make it back to your own children.
Make DIY Halloween costumes
This is an obvious one, but it’s worth mentioning. There are countless tutorials online that will teach you how to make a spooky or silly costume for your kids (or for yourself).
Even better: Ask the older kids in your family what their friends wore last year to find out what’s popular and go thrifting for a used version of last year’s fave outfit. Eco-friendly Halloween ideas can be not only fun but FRUGAL.
Here are some eco-friendly DIY Halloween costumes to make
- Make a costume out of brown paper grocery bags by cutting eyeholes and then decorating them with everything from feathers to glitter to googly eyes. Add a “tail” by gluing strips of the bottom of the bag together and attaching them to your back.
- Turn old clothes you wouldn’t mind parting with into costumes by cutting around the seams, then sewing or gluing on fun new pieces like scarves or flower headbands.
- Get creative with old boxes by cutting eyeholes and decorating them with markers, construction paper, or fabric swatches. You can even use your imagination to turn them into robots or animals!
- Make costumes out of your recycling bin. Whether it’s a tin can monster or a DIY cardboard box airplane, get creative with things you find in the recycling bin.
- Use your kids’ toys to build fun costumes, like a red wagon turned into a monster truck or an Etch A Sketch turned into an astronaut!
Make your own Halloween masks
If you can’t find a mask, look around the house for things you can turn into DIY scary masks.
Old wrapping paper (cut out in a diamond shape and glued on top of a paper plate), markers, and construction paper will do the trick. You could also use brown felt or glue on fake fur with white felt teeth cut into it.
If you’re really creative, try recycling old umbrellas and turning them into fun animal masks!
Trick-or-treat in your neighborhood
Trick-or-treating in your own neighborhood is a great way to show kids that it’s not all about getting as many candy bars as possible, but also about having fun and spending time with family and friends.
Plus, you’re sure to save money on gasoline when you don’t have to drive around town looking for the best “treats.”
Make your own Halloween party treats
This is one of my favorite eco-friendly Halloween ideas… get baking! This is also pretty obvious advice, but you’d be surprised how much dough people spend on Halloween treats every year. A quick internet search will bring up countless Halloween recipes that are easy to make, fun to eat, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg at the store.
Try making your own DIY Halloween Rice Krispie Treats or chocolate-dipped pretzels the day before Halloween and decorating them with Halloween sprinkles. And of course, don’t throw away those pumpkin seeds!
Looking for healthy Halloween desserts? Try this candy corn fruit parfait.
Use a reusable bag for trick-or-treating
There are so many adorable bags on the market right now that you’re sure to find one that suits your Halloween style.
The trick is not to use paper or plastic bags at all. Instead, encourage your kids to use their own clean cloth sack for collecting Halloween candy.
You can make your own bags or purchase some made from organic cotton at a fair trade store. And of course, tuck it away to use year after year.
Get outside after dark
Movie night is fun but so is a zero electricity required nature walk. Instead of staying inside and watching scary movies on Halloween night, bundle up your kids in warm clothes and take them outside to look at the stars and explore nature with a flashlight.
You can even head to a local park and roast some marshmallows over a campfire while you’re out there.
Visit a pumpkin patch for fall fun
Visit a local pumpkin patch to buy local pumpkins. You’ll get to see some of Mother Nature’s best artwork, pick out your own pumpkins and stomp around in crunchy leaves for hours.
Many fall pumpkin patches have other fun outdoor activities like corn mazes that your whole family can enjoy.
Choose eco-friendly Halloween decorations
Turn your home into an autumn wonderland without spending a ton of money on store-bought Halloween decorations. Make all the spooky and silly designs from found or recycled items, or things you already have lying around the house:
1. Use a white bedsheet as a backdrop for your monster movie marathon and draw on some spooky characters with fabric paint or permanent markers. Just be careful not to spill any food or drinks on the sheet.
2. Get in touch with your roots by making some fall foliage pictures to hang up in your home. Pick out three different types of leaves, then cut them into pieces and glue or paste them onto a piece of brown construction paper for each leaf. Make sure there’s enough space around the edges to tape it to the wall.
3. Get your kids involved in creating some cool artwork for the walls too. Visit a pumpkin patch with them to get gourds, then let them carve out designs or faces into the pumpkins. Set one on each table at your party and fill it with homemade hummus or bean dip, then use another as a centerpiece.
Ways to use pumpkins when Halloween is over
Food waste is a huge problem in this country. Wondering what to do with leftover pumpkins? Go zero waste with your Halloween pumpkins this year. Here are a few ways to reuse them:
Make homemade Pumpkin pie
The pumpkin’s most common use is to make pumpkin pie. To make pumpkin puree for your pie, first, cut your pumpkin open and clean out all seeds and pulp. Then, fill a baking pan with about one inch of water and place the pumpkin halves in the pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Scrape out pumpkin flesh and puree in a food processor or blender. Use this homemade pumpkin puree in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe.
Compost your pumpkin for better soil
Pumpkins can help improve the soil. Decomposing pumpkins provide nitrogen to the soil, which helps other plants grow.
After you use the inside of the pumpkin for food, composting the rest can return nutrients to the soil so vegetables and flowers will grow better next year.
Feed pumpkins to your chickens
Pumpkins are an excellent addition to feeding your chickens. The flesh and seeds of pumpkins are a great source of nutrients for them.
Make a moisturizing pumpkin mask for your face
Pumpkin includes many nutrients like vitamin A and E, magnesium, and zinc. Deficiencies of these vitamins and minerals can lead to dry skin and wrinkles.
Making a pumpkin mask is simple: Combine 1/2 cup cooked pumpkin; 3 tablespoons oatmeal; 1 tablespoon honey; 1 egg white. Blend the above ingredients together in a bowl, apply to face, and leave for 20 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
Make a pumpkin planter
Turn your leftover Halloween pumpkin into a planter with your kids. This is perfect for children as it offers the chance to learn about what happens when seeds are planted, what different plants need in order to grow, and what makes pumpkin flesh suitable for composting.
Just find your favorite seeds, fill your pumpkin with soil, and keep your seeds watered. Watch your seeds sprout and share the joy of gardening with kids.
Make pumpkin tea
Pumpkin tea is simple to make. Fresh pumpkin includes ingredients like magnesium, vitamin A and C, zinc, iron, and phosphorus. These nutrients are a great boost to overall health and a healthy way to use a Halloween pumpkin.
Pumpkin tea recipe:
Mix 1 tablespoon of grated fresh pumpkin into a 12oz cup of boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes, then strain out the pumpkin pieces. Add 1 teaspoon of honey and drink hot, 2 cups daily.
Whether you want to try your hand at upcycled Halloween crafts like my Candy Corn wine bottle centerpiece or throw a green Halloween party using a few of my sustainable party tips, Halloween doesn’t have to be hard on the planet.
How wasteful is Halloween? It’s only as wasteful as YOU let it be! So get started on a few of these eco-friendly Halloween ideas and get into the spirit of reducing waste!
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire and has worked in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging and freelance writing to share this knowledge with others. Learn more about her HERE.