Halloween feels like the antithesis of plastic free these days. One-stop shops for Halloween supplies make prepping easy, but - as we all know - most of those costumes and decorations end up in the garbage after the big night. If you really love Halloween, then you know it's about the atmosphere, the suspense and the scaring. It's about creating the memories and that's what plastic free Halloween is all about!
For the best plastic free Halloween:
Start Early - the best way to avoid convenience plastic of any kind is to plan and plan EARLY. There is nothing worse than realizing that your child is required to have a costume at a moment's notice. A month before, check in to see what is required. What is this year's preferred costume? Where are the best pumpkins? What decorations do I have left over from other years?
Pumpkins - the beautiful thing about pumpkins is that they are...wait for it...fruit. Mind blown? What's also great about that is they are fully bio-degradable. You probably already know this if you have carved a pumpkin too early. There are lots of carve and "no carve" decorating ideas for jack-o-lanterns. Depending where you live, support local and buy from road-side vendors, farms and U-picks and markets. And don't forget your gourds!
Signs - Instead of buying flimsy plastic signs that end up blowing down the street, make some with old pieces of wood. Think broken Ikea furniture, a spray can and white/red paint - just keep a look out the day before your next garbage day. Signs saying "Beware of Werewolf" or "Turn Back Now" or "Fire Swamp"!
Music - This is where it can get really spooky! These days everyone seems to have a portable speaker. Place one strategically by the door or near a 'decomposing body' or jack-o-lantern. Play spooky tunes from your favorite horror soundtrack (is that a thing?) or find a compilation on YouTube.
Scarecrows - These can be made as scary and funny as you want. Old clothes and winter mittens are a great way to make a scary body on the lawn - fill with leaves, hay, old newspaper. We have old costumes from previous years, so we have small scarecrows. Use old boots to finish off the look. Add a simple pully system and you have one scary moving body when you open the door. Be creative with ghosts, ghouls and witches too.
Costumes - You don't need to be a seamstress to make your own costume. Be creative and research. Some of the best ideas can be executed with old clothes and stuff you have laying around the house. And if you don't have a stash of old clothes and useless* junk, pop into your local Salvation Army or Frenches. They might have what you are looking for and they often have second hand costumes that have only been worn once. Look for second hand costumes online as well, or look for a costume swaps.
Trick or Treat Bags - It was pretty much standard to use an old pillow case for trick-or-treating when I was growing up. Start by sewing bats, witches hats and other spooky paraphernalia to the side of the pillow cases.
Candy - Avoid creating even more plastic, by making grab bags. Unfortunately, gone are the days when you can give an apple or cook some cookies up for kids (to be discussed in the future). Look for candy in cardboard boxes (think Smarties and Junior Mints). Cans of lemonade, ice-T or soda pop are a recyclable option. And remember, if you can't go plastic free, try at least to buy from local chocolatiers or ethical chocolate.
Halloween is a very difficult holiday to make really sustainable since by its very nature it is designed for consumption. Add in parental guilt and Halloween nostalgia, it's hard to tell your kids "No". If you are new to the plastic free universe, than you probably feel overwhelmed. It takes time for family and friends to understand why it is important, especially when "it's only once a year" or "it's my favorite holiday!" Remember, it can be both those things AND be earth-friendly.
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