Here at Life University (Life U), we are all about positive impact and how to leave the world better than we found it. We even have an amazing B.A. in Human Ecology program focused entirely on studying an awareness and advocacy around the 21st century’s pressing complex social and environmental problems. This effects even how we might approach fun and seemingly frivolous activities, such as Halloween.

The holidays are rife with cheap, one-use items and decorations destined for landfills. Plastic spiders, dollar store knickknacks and candy wrapper litter (Oh My!). But it doesn’t have to be that way. Make Halloween festive, fresh and beautiful this year with eco-friendly decorating tips and knowledge of what to keep out of your shopping cart.

Green Ideas for Halloween

  • Think Seasonal. Seasonal foods as decorations are a great low-waste option. Pumpkins are the obvious choice, but don’t just throw out the guts after making your jack-o-lanterns. If you separate the seeds, clean them and roast them in the oven covering with sweet or savory spices, you have a healthy and delicious snack. And the remaining guts can be used in all kinds of pumpkin dishes, though it is hard to do better than homemade pumpkin pie, honestly. Other food items you can use are squash, gourds, apples and dried corn husks. Orange bell peppers make a great edible jack-o-lantern party decoration as well. The best thing is, any food left over can be composted.
  • Let there be light. You can use white holiday lights for Halloween and for later into the holiday season.
  • Cardboard Creatures Go Bump in the Night. Raid your recycling bin or old Amazon pile for cardboard, cut out funky Halloween shapes freehand or with stencils, and put them by your window with a light behind. A white sheet behind the shapes creates perfect silhouettes in your window.
  • A touch of floral. Look for seasonal flowers like mums that flourish in the fall. Once you are done with them, they can be dried or composted.
  • Give a friend’s old decorations new life. Ask friends and family if you can borrow or have any Halloween decorations they aren’t using. It’s always better to reuse what is around you rather than it getting thrown out or gathering dust in your mom’s basement.
  • Check your local thrift shop. Certain antique items, such as creepy old dolls, will give your porch the perfect, old-time spooky feel.
  • Cotton ball spider webs. Pull-apart cotton balls for a natural spider web effect. Old stocking with runs could be used as indoor spider webbing as well. We will get more into why the fake plastic versions should be left on the shelf a little farther into this blog.
  • Thrifted Costumes. Try to make a Halloween costume out of items and clothes you already own, rather than purchasing new. If needing supplemental items, shop at your local thrift store, garage sale or consignment rather than buying new. Or get together with friends and have a costume swap. Read our past article “Thrifting: Kinder to the Planet and to your Wallet” for more information about thrifting as sustainable fashion.

What to Avoid for a Green Halloween?

  • Fake spider webs are a big no-go when it comes to local wildlife. Wildlife rehabilitation groups have consistently reported that small animals and birds often get tangled in these nets, which can harm or even kill them in some cases.
  • Once any food such as pumpkins starts to go too bad, compost it or at least throw it out. Otherwise, it will attract critters into areas they shouldn’t be.

Have a green Halloween!

Reference List

  1. Honestly Modern’s article, “20 Zero Waste Halloween Decoration Ideas”
  2. World Wildlife Fund’s article, “10 Green Halloween Tips”
  3. “Tips to make Halloween less scary for wildlife”.


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