Tips For Zero Waste Halloween
It’s already October! For those who love Halloween, the countdown begins for everything spooky and creepy, from costumes to decorations and parties. Here is how we do zero-waste Halloween.
Zero Waste Treats for Halloween
When trick-or-treaters come by your home, they’ll be expecting something! By planning ahead and purchasing some goodies, you can stay in a semi-zero-waste spirit. Here are some ideas:
For easy recyclability, choose candies that have paper packaging, like Pixie Sticks, Nerds, Junior Mints, and Milk Duds (my favorite!).
Fruit is an excellent idea for Halloween treats, and most of it comes in its own natural packaging, like bananas or cuties. You can also give out raisin boxes.
I like giving out seed pencils or wood erasers and small coloring books.
Zero Waste Decorations for Halloween
Natural things like pumpkins, pine cones, and leaves make incredible decorations.
Shrunken Apple Head Decorations
I came across this fun idea for creating homemade decorations, using apples to make shrunken heads. They can be skewered on a stick and placed in pots around the house, in a Halloween table display, or strung on a cord to make hanging wall decorations. The process itself is quite simple, and the result is adorable. It is a fun craft to make with kids of all ages, as little ones can help peel the apples and draw faces, and older children (and adults) can carve the faces.
You will need the following:
- Apples (big ones will likely be easier, but smaller ones will dry more quickly)
- Lemon Juice
- Marker or pencil
- Small knife
To make your shrunken heads:
1. Peel your apples.
2. With a pencil or marker, draw or scratch the outline of a nose, ears, eyes, mouth, and other features you want so it looks like a skull.
3. Using a paring knife or another small knife, carefully cut out features along the stencil.
4. Soak the carved apples in a mixture of lemon juice and salt for a minute or two. The stronger the solution, the less oxidation will occur on the apples. It also helps prevent mold during the drying process.
5. With a stick, skewer the apples through the core.
6. Leave to dry in a dry, warm place. If the air is damp or there isn’t good airflow, the apples could turn moldy—while that can be fun and spooky looking, it won’t have the intended effect. If Halloween is just a few days away and you still want to attempt this, try putting them in a dehydrator or the oven at a low temperature!
Zero Waste Costumes for Halloween
I always ask on social media and at our kids’ school if anyone has a costume we can borrow, and I post which ones I have for anyone to borrow from us.
A great zero-waste costume idea is to check out your local thrift shops. We have found many great costumes and sometimes even parts to make our own. You can also check out websites like e-Bay (include a filter for ‘pre-owned’)
Make Your Own
Last year my youngest wanted to be a math problem, so we got him a black top from a thrift shop. He and his sister made math problems from white fabrics and glued them all over. Another year, my daughter wanted to be Pippi Longstocking. With some tweaking and bits and parts, we succeeded in putting together a great Pippi costume that she was super happy with.
Unless your child opts to go trick-or-treating as a ghost with large eye holes cut out of an old sheet, you will most likely have to deal with some type of makeup. Just as children run down the street with their capes and fancy dresses hemmed so they don’t trip, you’ll want them to be equally safe with their makeup.
For homemade paint, combine the following:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup lotion
- 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Food coloring
For natural food colors, use these:
- Green: spirulina powder or puréed spinach or avocado with a squirt of lemon juice.
- Red: cranberry juice or beet powder.
- Yellow: turmeric.
- Orange: carrot juice.
- Pink: Dragon fruit powder
- Purple: seedless blackberry or blueberry jam, or puréed and strained blackberries or blueberries.
- Brown: instant coffee or cocoa powder.
Mash the paint ingredients together to form a smooth paste. Separate this basic white paste into several batches if you need a variety of colors. Mix any of the colored ingredients into the paste. After the paste has dried on the skin, dab a little coconut oil on the surface.
To create scary warts and wounds:
- 1 ounce of plain unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoons of boiling water
Stir and let it sit for three minutes. Next, pour the mixture onto wax paper or a similar surface. Quickly shape the gelatin to form your wart or scar. Mix in a few drops of red food coloring for a wound or green for a witch’s wart. You can be creative by adding a bit of corn syrup, oatmeal, coffee grounds, or even some paintbrush bristles. Once your creations have dried, adhere them with corn syrup—but first, let the corn syrup dry.
These are best made on the same day the costume is worn. Children will love learning how to prepare the final touches of their costumes.
Fall leaves makes great halloween decorations and you can read more about that here
Here is my post about how to host a zero waste holiday party