In a bid for spookiest house on the block, some Halloween enthusiasts can get carried away, filling their homes and lawns with plastic decorations. But decorating for Halloween can be way more fun (and eco-friendly) than throwing neon orange jack-o-lanterns in a shopping cart and calling it a day.
Store-bought decorations are often comprised of non-recyclable, petro chemical-based plastics and synthetic fibers. Pre- and post-trick-or-treat, these materials can release harmful toxins—while being manufactured, and long after the holiday when they end up sitting in landfills.
One way to avoid creating more waste: Comb thrift stores for perfectly good decorations. Without fail, secondhand shops always, always load up on reusable Halloween goods year in and year out.
Then, of course, there's the most awesome way to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve: DIYs! Aside from trick-or-treating, horror flicks, and scaring the bejesus out of each other, getting our hands dirty and making stuff is what Halloween is all about.
Here are some creepy-cool ideas for eco-friendly decorating. Carving pumpkins will seem like amateur hour once you give these crafts a whirl.
Halloween would be nothing without fake blood! Whip some up with natural ingredents: ⅔ cup organic corn syrup, 1 teaspoon red food coloring, 2 to 3 drops blue food coloring (to darken), and a squirt of dish soap.
Homemade craft paint
Make your own craft paint that’s clean, safe, and eco-friendly. Just mix 3 tablespoons organic sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ cup cornstarch, and 2 cups water in a saucepan and stir over low heat until it thickens to a paint-like consistency. Divide the mixture into individual containers (muffin tins work great!) and mix in natural, plant-based food coloring to each one. Experiment with combining colors to create any hue imaginable. Adding activated charcoal makes a perfect black! (Just open up the capsule and use the powder inside.)
Ball up some leaves, newspaper, or the paper packaging from your Thrive Market until it's roughly size of a head. Cover it with an old white sheet and loosely tie a string around the base of the “head” to create a “neck” and keep the materials from falling out. Attach fishing line or string to the top of the ghost’s head with a safety pin and hang it from the trees or your front porch. The ghostly creation will flutter in the wind just like a real spook.
Egg carton bats and leaf ghosts
Not so scary—just super cute! Here’s a DIY that turns leaves into adorable ghosts and recycles egg cartons into loveable bats. For our version, we used red and white paper scraps for eyes and fangs.
Upcycled plastic spiders
There’s something you can do with plastic water bottles after all— before you throw them into the recycling bin, that is. Check out this super cool way to turn plastic bottles into creepy crawlers! If you’re already on your best eco-friendly game and don’t have these in the house, collect them from neighbors who do. Plus, this DIY gets another use out of your homemade paint!
Want a creepy guardian on the porch without spending barely any money at all? Fill some old clothes with the paper packaging from your Thrive Market box. Put him in a pair of boots, plop a pumpkin head with a hat on him (don’t worry, the current pumpkin shortage only applies to canned pumpkin). Sit him on the porch and watch trick-or-treaters and passersby do a double take every time.
Head in a jar
Imagine people’s horror at finding a head in a jar on the porch or in your fridge. Muhahaha! To create this excellent prank, download this flattened face, print it out, and roll up the paper to slip into a mason jar. Fill the jar with water—you can even add food coloring to make it extra mad science-y—and seal it with a lid. Want to put your own loved ones’ heads in jars? Here are the Photoshop tricks to do it.
Coffee can luminaries
If you’ve collected quite a few coffee cans and the kitchen cabinets are overflowing (speaking from personal experience here), create some can luminaries. This DIY makes lights that are just as cool as jack-o-lanterns—without the mess.