Fall is once again upon us and with it the fun and festivities surrounding Halloween.
According to the National Retail Federation:
“More than 171 million Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year, spending an average $82.93, up from last year’s $74.34. Total spending is expected to reach $8.4 billion, an all-time high in the history of NRF’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights.”
Halloween can be fun, but also expensive and bad for the environment. Once the night is done, costumes, decorations, left over napkins, candy wrappers and pumpkins tend to end up in the garbage can and later in the local landfill.
What are the typical essentials? Home decor, costumes for the kiddies (and adults!), pumpkins, haunted houses and parties abound. Candy alone can be a big bite if you get lots of trick or treaters and give out chocolate.
How can you be money wise and green this Halloween?
Tip # 1 – Be a curmudgeon and just don’t celebrate the night.
Once the kids left home, we ended up with zero trick or treaters at our house on a state highway. No kids = no money on candy = no candy wrappers in the landfill. No kids = no parties or haunted houses = money saved. We do put up decorations (ones I buy at garage sales or thrift stores and reuse each year).
Tip # 2 Recycle/reuse costumes
- Buy one then sell, donate or exchange it.
If your child (or you) just has to have that store bought costume with all the non-biodegradable materials (you know, that one that costs you at least $20), then after its typical one time use, just donate to your local charity or sell it at your next garage sale or online.
Around here, some communities have taken to doing a one day costume exchange. Bring in your slightly used, but in good shape costume and pick one from those others brought in – as a swap.
- Don’t buy, make.
Encourage your child to use their imaginations to come up with a costume out of materials on hand at home. Search the attic, the backs of the closets, the garage and see what inspiration presents. An old white sheet can become a ghost costume. Dad’s old cowboy hat and a rope from the garage can be the start of a cowboy get up. Mom’s black cape, some makeup and a piece of cardboard cut and painted black to make bats ears can make someone into Dracula. After Halloween, the parts go back.
- Re-purpose the used costume.
If you sew, take off the buttons, zippers, lace, netting or whatever to use later. If your kids are into pretend play, let the costume be part of their theatrical wardrobe.
Tip # 3 Use up your pumpkins
- Eat it by baking the cleaned, salted seed.
- Eat it by making pulp from the meat (avoid the skin and the stringy stuff inside). Cut it up, peel it, scrape it, bake it, then put it in the blender. Use the pulp for pumpkin bread, cookies, pies, soups and more.
- Compost it by cutting it up and putting it on the pile.
- Re-purpose it into a bird-feeder by putting a dowel rod through the holes, hanging string on the dowels and filling it with birdseed.
- Decorate for the next fall holiday with it.
- Use pumpkins at your wedding as flower baskets. My daughter-in-law came up with this idea, buying bulk pumpkins and bulk flowers. They both spent some time scooping out the insides and cutting off the tops but the end product was beautiful. Then they gave most away to guests and participants as a memento of the day.
Tip # 4 on decorations.
- Like me, buy them used and then reuse them each year.
- Take apart old fall decorations and reassemble them into new arrangements.
- Make your own decorations out of household items. Free Kids Crafts has some ideas.
- Put your unwanted Halloween decorations out for reuse by donating them.
Tip # 5 have your own party/haunted house.
This idea serves well for the younger crew. Scary up your house by lining the hall with pillows and putting a sheet over them. Put up some spider webs where they will brush against the kids faces. Make it dark with just some lights here and there. Put on some spooky music with some haunting voices barely audible. Then, as Kidz World suggests:
” Before your guests enter the room, have your dad tell them a scary story about why the room is haunted.”
When mine were grade school age, we had about 10 of their friends over. There was a drowned guy in the bath tub, the hallway was bumpy with those pillows. We walked them down the hall, peeked in the bathroom and herded them into a bedroom where they had to sit in a circle. We passed around pieces of food in the dark and told a story about how the pieces were parts of a body. Peeled grapes for the eyeballs, round noodles for veins, spaghetti for brains and etc. The Scary for Kids website has a couple of versions of the rhyming story you can use with the game.
What do you do to recycle/reuse on Halloween?