Tips for a Plastic Free Halloween

As someone who is new to living a zero-waste life, Halloween is kind of a daunting holiday. Between the one-time use costumes, cheap decor, and individually plastic-wrapped candies, there is plenty of potential waste in celebrating All Hallows Eve. But I still love finding ways to celebrate the season, so this year, I made an effort to enjoy the holiday using only natural or re-usable items I already had on hand.


The cool thing about Halloween is that the star decor item – pumpkins – can be used in multiple ways and then composted. For my indoor decorations, I used small-sized pumpkins (perfect for my small-sized apartment) along with bundled dry wheat stalks and dried flowers.

Dried flowers, to me, have this beautiful charm that feels both elegant, but also a little spooky. My arrangements came from a local Greenpoint shop called The Little Glass Slipper, and they remind me of some of the gorgeous set design of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And once again, these arrangements can eventually be composted, though, I am hoping they will last a very long time.

I also pulled out my copy of Sleepy Hollow for display, along my set of spider-web tea towels. While my decor is fairly minimal, I am pleased with how it lends just the right amount of festive fun to my home.


I actually have always tried to come up with costumes from items already in my closet. I’ve pretty much always done this since Jr. High mainly because I have always been rather shocked by the low-quality of most store-bought costumes, and the astoundingly high prices. Many popular “costume in a bag” type brands use very cheap materials that are filled with harmful plastics. Using items you already own to craft a costume is a great way to save money as well as keep from contributing more waste.

The trick is to look at your wardrobe with an open mind and think creatively about how a piece of clothing you own could work for a specific character or theme. I’ve managed to dress up as everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Mary Poppins by just repurposing things I already owned.

You may find that adding one small purchase may be all you need to complete an outfit – like adding a classic witches hat to your favorite black dress or a pair of cat ears to your leopard-print sweater. In my opinion, this is a much better way to go than buying an entire costume.

This year, I am still debating what I want to dress up as (yes, even the day before Halloween) – but I am leaning towards wearing a blue and white gingham dress I have and reworking it to be Dorothy Gail from The Wizard of Oz…I just need to figure out what I have that may suffice for ruby slippers!


This item is a little more challenging for me to wrap my head around. Being in an apartment building without any kids, we don’t usually have to have candy on hand for trick-or-treaters. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about the plastic problem that comes with buying packs of individually wrapped fun-sized candy bars.

Luckily, there are still a few small-sized candies that are packaged in cardboard boxes, like Nerds or Junior Mints which work nicely as a plastic-free treat. You could also opt for candies wrapped in foil, but just beware that some foils are actually made from some plastics, or have a certain amount of plastic lining that isn’t recyclable.

Happy Halloween!

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