Green Halloween: How to Have an Earth-Friendly Halloween
If you feel like the holidays have become one massive plastic-fest, you aren’t alone. Cheap plastic decorations have eroded what the holidays are all about and left us with an ecological headache that could take centuries to resolve.
The good news, however, is that you can take back the joy of the holidays with fun, interesting, fulfilling DIY projects. Halloween is the unofficial start of the holiday season, so it is the perfect time for launching a year-long (and hopefully life-long) dedication to celebrating in an eco-friendly manner. Here are some tips for a planet-friendly Halloween to get you started.
Recent research has indicated that one of the largest sources of microscopic plastic in our oceans is the clothing we don. You may not be ready to give up your designer yoga wear, but you can at least avoid the petrochemical-rich Halloween costumes that hang on the rack of every store in the nation.
Rather than choosing a costume off the shelf (one made of polyvinyl chloride, polyester, rayon, etc.) go old-school and make your own using hemp, flax, cotton, or wool. Thrift stores are a great place to find old clothes that can be used to create everything from a realistic scarecrow to a frightening zombie.
At least the name fits when it comes to fake blood. Fake blood may contain mostly natural ingredients, but the preservatives and antimicrobial agents added to extend shelf-life can make it and products like it potential irritants and allergens. Of note, most fake blood contains DMDM hydantoin (aka Glydant), which is a formaldehyde-based preservative known to cause contact dermatitis and other problems.
Rather than use commercial fake blood, with ingredients that may or may not be harmful, make your own using cornstarch, corn syrup, and food coloring. It is safe, effective, edible, and 100% biodegradable. Here are two recipes to get you started
- 1 cup Corn Syrup
- ½ cup Warm Water
- Red food coloring as desired
- 2/3 cup Corn Syrup
- 1/3 cup Warm Water
- 5 tablespoons Corn Starch
- 4 teaspoons red food coloring
- 1 tablespoon Powdered Cocoa
- 2 drops of green or yellow food coloring
Combine the ingredients in a bowl, mixing well. These can and do stain clothing and skin.
The bags sold at stores tend to end up in the oceans and the pumpkins that everyone loves to stuff with candy probably won’t break down for at least 300 years. Rather than use a store-bought bag to collect candy this Halloween, opt for a homemade option. Use a paper shopping bag with handles and put the second bag, without handles, inside of it.
This will provide the necessary support to carry your bounty throughout the night. Let the kids go to town decorating their bag with construction paper, tissue paper, markers, paint, and more. To make sure the bag lasts all night, parents can periodically empty it into a backpack they carry. This will ensure the longevity of the bag and make it easier for the kids to enjoy the evening.
Pumpkins are the quintessential Halloween decoration, but they seem to have taken a backseat to plastics and commercial products in recent years. Yes, pumpkins are more work, but they are also eco-friendly and 100% customizable. With reusable tools that are safe for kids of all ages, carving pumpkins is much less dangerous than it used to be and making custom designs is easier than ever.
Pumpkins come with bonuses too. For starters, you can roast the seeds and make a unique treat. You can go simple and just use a little oil and salt or you can try for extravagant recipes that include things like cumin, paprika, and more. It isn’t just the seeds that are edible either. You can use the pulp to make everything from pies to soup. If you blend it into a fine consistency and combine it with some standard pumpkin pie spice, the pulp can also be added to coffee and hot chocolate to make tasty seasonal drinks.
Here are 150+ Free Pumpkin Carving Templates to customize your pumpkin this year!
Candy, while itself biodegradable, comes in wrappers and bags that are not. You can make Halloween at your house extra-inviting by making your own treats. This can include chocolates that you create using reusable molds, candied apples, baked goods wrapped in paper, and even hard candy you make yourself. Making candy is also loads of fun for the kids and can leaving your house smelling amazing.
If you started your decorations with the pumpkins above, why clutter the yard with commercial products when you can continue the DIY trend and blow your neighbors’ minds with your creative genius? Here is a list of ideas just to get the imaginative juices flowing.
-You can stuff paper bags with leaves, grass, and more and then use them to make the bodies of spiders, scarecrows, and other ghouls. Paint the bags with biodegradable paint.
-Cotton balls are 100% biodegradable and can be used to make outstanding spider webs. Cotton, wool, and hemp yarns are great for spider webs as well.
-Toilet paper tubes, cereal boxes, and used Amazon shipping boxes are all great starting materials for things like cat heads, mummies, zombies, bats, and gravestones.
-You can make your candy bowls out of old paper bags or newspaper. Use paper mache (papier mâché) made from white flour and water or from Elmer’s Art Paste (mold resistant and 100% safe for kids) and water.
-Candy corn, particularly if purchased in bulk, is very eco-friendly and can be used for a variety of decorations.
-Bloody candles made from soy or beeswax are 100% biodegradable. Avoid the petroleum-based paraffin options.
Get Creative and Enjoy the Process
Somewhere along the lines, the holidays became all about show and we forgot that the preparations should be at least as much fun as the holidays themselves. Make the preparations fun and engaging by getting creative and letting your inner ghoul run free this Halloween.
The kids are far more likely to remember the wild fun they had carving up pumpkins, especially if you get friends and neighbors involved than they are to remember the store-bought costumes and plastic displays that have become so generic.
The holidays should be about community so be sure to coordinate these activities with other parents and friends so that everyone feels included and has fun.