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Decor and Costumes: Eco-Friendly Halloween Crafts and Projects

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Halloween—BOO! It’s time to sharpen your carving knives and get ready for pumpkins, costumes and treats—Halloween is here! Each year, about 36 million trick-or-treaters hit the streets. This year, let’s pledge to add green to our orange and black, and give our usual Halloween preparations and activities an eco-friendly twist. Here are fun Halloween crafts and projects you can do with the whole family that are planet (and wallet) friendly.

Eeeek-o-Friendly Halloween Crafts and Projects

Upcycle your Costume

Avoid creating new waste and, instead, make costumes rather than buying them. You can use supplies found in your own home by raiding the recycling bin—yogurt containers become robot buttons. With a little paint, toilet paper tubes turn into Frankenstein plugs or a spyglass for a pirate. If you have a big cardboard box, you’ve hit the goldmine:  cut head and armholes in the box and paint it like your favorite cereal box. Paint the box brown, add some yellow letters, and you have a UPS truck. Also, seek out existing outfits that can easily be converted into a costume; your old prom or bridesmaid dress would make a stunning Tinkerbelle or Cinderella. If time is short, visit second hand stores to find some vintage treasures that can make for a very original costume that’s zero impact.

Add Flair to a Reusable Treat Bag

Forgo the plastic bag (which requires fossil fuels to make and can last a 1,000 years in landfills) and make your own goodie bags from eco-friendly and recycled materials. First, create a basic bag from pillow cases, scraps of fabric, old clothes or towels, used paper bags or pails. Then, add charm to your bag with leftover scraps of paper, glitter and colored pens. Washable markers suitable for fabric are a great way to dress-up fabric bags or pillow cases; you can even wash them afterwards to convert them back! Digging into your stash early? Take the candy wrappers and glue them onto a pail for a very festive treat bucket. After Halloween, use the bucket in your kid’s playroom to hold crayons or small toys.

Choose (and Fully Use!) Your Pumpkin Wisely

Sustainably grown organic pumpkins are becoming more widely available at a growing number of supermarkets, grocers and specialty stores.  To find a nearby source, visit www.eatwellguide.org, a free online directory of sustainable food sources. Once you’ve carved your pumpkin, don't waste the insides. Take those gooey white seeds and roast them in the oven for a nutritious and fiber-filled snack—click here for easy and delicious recipes.

Create a Green House of Horrors

There are many fun ways to turn your home into a house of horrors without making Mother Nature scream. Here are a few easy ideas:

  • Set an eerie ambience with eco-friendly candles (soy or beeswax), LED lights or flash lights powered with rechargeable batteries.
  • Give your candles added Halloween flare by cutting out patterns in a paper bag, adding some sand to the bottom for stability and placing a votive candle in the center.
  • Make a graveyard out of old cereal boxes turned into gravestones. Even better, transform recycled cardboard into coffins, chains or skeletons by cutting them to your own design and painting them with non-toxic paint.
  • Use old bed sheets or pillowcases to make ghosts by stuffing a t-shirt into the center and tying it off with a ribbon to create the head.
  • Use white spray paint to transform old stockings and the netting that holds oranges into creepy cobwebs for your corners.
  • Paint spooky Halloween murals on your windows with non-toxic window paint.
  • Decorate with gourds, pumpkins, apples and other edible items that you can eat once the night is over.
  • Gather leaves and branches from the backyard to dress up your front walkway and steps.

These are just a few of many crafty ideas that show it’s easy and fun to make Halloween more eco-friendly. What fun Halloween projects have you done with your kids that also help the planet?

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Ali Kalis is the director of digital marketing at Recyclebank, the company that rewards people for taking everyday green actions. Ali has always had a personal interest in social entrepreneurship, sustainability and healthy living, and holds a certificate in integrated nutrition as well as an MBA. She and her photographer husband, Amani, live in Brooklyn with their young son, Satchel, and miniature pincher, Jinx. This year, Satchel’s costume is a zero-impact one—he’s wearing his baby bear costume from last year.

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Jen Tilley

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