Getting ready for Halloween can be so much fun. Spending time picking just the right pumpkin to carve. Looking for just the right place to hang the scary decorations to have the most effect. Choosing just the right accessory to finish off the elaborate costumes for trick-or-treating.
For many families, all of October is dedicated to preparing for the very last day of the month. And as with many celebrations, all this can lead to a lot of waste. How can you enjoy the fall festivities without spending too much money or sending too much trash to the landfill? Follow these tips for a more earth-friendly Halloween.
- Buy local. Pumpkins are grown pretty much everywhere in the United States. Make sure your pumpkin patch or grocery store is getting its pumpkins from a nearby farm to cut down on trucking costs and emissions.
- Eat the seeds. Instead of throwing away the gooey insides of your pumpkin when you carve it, rinse and roast the seeds. They're packed with iron, magnesium, fiber and protein.
- Save the seeds. To avoid any travel costs for your pumpkin, grow your own next year from leftover seeds. Separate out a few of the biggest ones before you roast the rest. Rinse them off then let them dry out for a week. Afterward, place them in an envelope and keep in a cool, dry spot until spring.
- Don't carve it. If you paint or otherwise decorate your pumpkin without carving it, you can then use the flesh to make a delicious pie!
- Reuse household items. Making your own decorations with objects you've collected from the kitchen is a fun project your kids can embrace. Save your milk jugs (draw on goofy ghost faces), tin cans (poke holes to create scary scenes and add a votive candle) and cereal boxes (use the gray insides to create headstones) for easy do-it-yourself decorations.
- Choose sturdy materials. Outdoor decorations will need to stand up to wind, rain and possible interest from four-legged creatures. Buy strong materials and decorations that will last year after year so you don't have to replace them too often.
- Think autumn, not Halloween. Extend the life of your decorations by finding ones that can be used through Thanksgiving. Leaves and branches, pumpkins and gourds, apples and whole nuts are natural reminders of both the October and November holidays.
- Repurpose a costume. If no one wants to wear the witch costume from last year, hang the hat, cape, mask and broom on the door as a life-size decoration.
- Create your own. Raid your closets for clothing, linens and accessories that can make a costume. A white sheet can be used to dress up as a ghost, mummy, ancient Greek, angel or bride.
- Visit the thrift store or consignment shop. When your closets don't reveal everything you need for a costume, visit a thrift store or consignment shop to see what other people found in their closets.
- Buy big. If your child insists on a store-bought costume, consider buying a size bigger so he or she can wear it again – either next Halloween or for dress up throughout the year. Also, look into buying items that can be used for a variety of future costumes – a black cape can be used for a vampire, magician, superhero or belle of the ball costume.
- Sew, glue or tape. Sewing a costume from a pattern may be a daunting thought, but stitching a tail to a pair of pants or ears to a headband is a little less intimidating. Also consider attaching accessories with a glue gun or duct tape to get the look you want.
The more you focus on using what you have on hand rather than buying something new, the more we can all save on energy, resources and money this Halloween.