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Halloween is a big deal in our house. My daughter loves all things scary, creepy, and macabre and my son was born a few days before Halloween. So, we bake, craft, and decorate our way through October, enjoying every Pinterest idea we can find. But this is a holiday that typically produces a ton of waste, so I’ve got a few suggestions for how to “green” your Halloween.
mini hershey's, mr. goodbar, and krackel

Zero Waste (and Vegan) Halloween Candy Ideas

  • Quite a few classic candies come in recyclable cardboard boxes: Nerds, Mike and Ikes, Junior Mints, and DOTS – which happen to be vegan. If you want more vegan options, consider Smarties, Sour Patch Kids, Airheads, Blow Pops, or Dum Dum suckers.
  • Raisins are always a crowd-pleaser! Well, maybe not, but they do come in a recyclable box!
  • Foil wrapped chocolates are pretty easy to find, as well. Look for the mix of Mr. Goodbar, Krackle, and Hershey’s. If you’re the “cool house” that likes to give out king size candy bars, perhaps you want to upgrade to paper wrapped chocolate bars. They come in a ton of varieties and are easy to find.
  • Canned sodas are easy to find and easy to recycle.
  • Taffy is wrapped in a wax paper that is compostable.
  • With allergies becoming increasingly common, you may want to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, which provides a non-candy option for kids who can’t eat traditional candy. A few non-candy ideas include clementines/cuties, apples, crayons, or Halloween erasers.
two candles shaped like pumpkins

Using Pumpkins for More Than Carving

Roasted pumpkin seeds can be made savory, spicy, sweet… the possibilities are endless and just a Google search away. My favorite way to roast them is with ranch seasoning! You can add pumpkin seeds to salads and breads, top your guacamole, make a pumpkin seed brittle, hummus, or pesto…. this is making me hungry!

You know all those cute little mini pumpkins we use for decorating? Instead of tossing them when November comes, try repurposing them. You can make them into candles by cutting off the tops, scooping out the seeds, adding a wick, and filling them with wax. You can fill them with birdseed for a healthy and biodegradable feeding station. If they will last, you can keep them and use them either as table decor or write names on them and use them as place cards for Thanksgiving dinner.

Smaller, pie pumpkins are often used for porch decor. Don’t let these get old and rot- use them as decoration until they are ready to eat! You can turn pie pumpkins into – obviously pumpkin pie – but they are also excellent in soups, breads, risotto, pumpkin butter, hummus, and ice cream. Dang, I’m hungry again!

After all the festivities, maybe you need to pamper yourself. Pumpkin is full of vitamins and antioxidants, so use those pumpkin carving scraps in a face mask! Mix fresh pumpkin puree with olive or coconut oil (hydration), cinnamon (combats acne), and honey (anti-fungal, cleans pores) and apply to your face, rinsing off after 20 minutes.

a little kid dressed as a cowboy sitting on hay

Easy No Cost DIY Costumes

  • Farmer: Who doesn’t have a plaid shirt and overalls laying around? If you don’t, hit up a thrift shop and you’re sure to find something! Bonus points for making little animals out of construction paper and taping them to your overalls.
  • Emoji: If you’ve got a yellow shirt, use construction paper to make the eyes, mouth, hearts, or whatever else you need, and just tape it on your shirt! Or use all black clothing and purchase a yellow poster, cut it into the right size circle, and use construction paper or sharpie to design the face. So easy!
  • Men in Black: This is for anyone who has (or can borrow or thrift) a black suit. Maybe you bought a suit to be in a friend’s wedding or attended a funeral and never thought you’d wear it again? Well, here’s your chance- just add some sunglasses and voila- you’re Will Smith! Bonus points for using a nerf gun as a prop.
a spider craft

Upcycled Crafts and Decorations

  • Can-o-lanterns: When my oldest was a baby, I turned her empty formula and baby snack canisters into jack-o’-lanterns by painting them orange and having fun drawing different faces on them. You could also use any jars or cans if you don’t have a baby in the house.
  • Milk Jug Ghosts: Pull out a strand of Christmas lights and tuck a section into each plastic jug. Use a sharpie to draw ghost faces on them before plugging in the lights. You’ll have glowing ghosts to light the way for your trick-or-treaters!
  • Wood Plank Porch Decorations: You can turn old wooden boards into Frankenstein, ghosts, pumpkins, or write something totally cliche like “It’s Fall Y’all!” to spruce up your front porch for the season.
  • Paper Plate Spiders: Use black paint, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes to transform a paper plate into a creepy (or cute!) spider.

Whew! I know that was a lot – does it get you excited for Halloween? I hope you find a few ideas that seem practical for your family and your lifestyle. Give them a shot and see how easy it is to reduce your waste this season. I’d love to hear if you tried out any of these ideas or see how you keep your Halloween green! You can find me at instagram.com/talesoftheyales. Happy Halloween everyone!