By Adam Fehn | Oct 19, 2020
halloween decorations

Adam Fehn is a Program Coordinator with UW Recycling

It’s October and you know what that means: spooky season is upon us!  Now is the time for us to carve pumpkins, curl up on the couch watching scary movies and dress up as ghosts and ghouls.  Unfortunately there’s more for us to be afraid of this year other than witches and goblins. Holidays can promote wasteful and unsustainable practices, and Halloween is no exception. COVID-19 is also ensuring that all of our Halloweens are going to look a lot different this year, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a little fun! UW Recycling is here to provide some tips and tricks on how to have a safe and sustainable Halloween.

For many people, the best parts of Halloween are the spooky costumes and the frightening décor, but single-use items have a negative environmental impact. They take a lot of resources to make, can be made of harmful materials and either go straight to the landfill or end up as litter. Talk about scary! Consider these options to green up your Halloween and slay the scariest monster of them all - the trash monster!

  • Avoid plastic
    Try to buy decorations made from more sustainable materials like natural cloth (cotton, bamboo, wool, and hemp), wood and metal.  These materials are more likely to last year after year and won’t come back to haunt you when it’s time to dispose of them.
  • Focus on reusing
    Raid your closets or your family’s closets first before buying something from the store.  You can make a lot of different costumes from things you already have! An old prom dress could turn you into a Disney princess. Your aunt’s old scrubs could turn you into a demented doctor. Your dad’s old lab coat could turn you into a mad scientist.  Your mom’s old bell bottoms could turn you into a disco queen.
  • Get crafty
    I once recycled an old umbrella and black hoodie into a bat costume with nothing more than a needle and thread and I don’t even know how to sew. I still looked great and everyone loved it! Often the best costumes are the most creative ones and not the most expensive ones.
  • Wear a mask
    These days a mask is a must, so incorporate it into your costume. There are so many costumes that already include face coverings like superheroes, surgeons, animals, and video game characters. If you can’t purchase a face covering that goes with your costume, simply get a plain white one and paint it.

If you want to lower your waste impact with decorations and treats, here are some easy things you can do:

  • Decide not to buy
    Before you go crawling for your wallet, ask yourself if this is something you really need.  Most of the times, it isn’t.
  • Buy used
    If you are going to buy something, buy used!  You’d be surprised how many fearsome things you can buy at second hand stores this time of year. Also, focus on things that you’ll use again and again.  Many garments can be used for more than one costume.
  • Stay at home and make something that produces less waste
    Instead of collecting loads of individually wrapped pieces of candy, stay at home and satisfy your munchkin’s sweet tooth with something that produces less waste. Candy apples anyone?
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Compost
    Instead of throwing your costume away, keep it to incorporate into a future costume. You can also consider giving it to a friend or family member or donate it to a local Buy Nothing group. Take the time to learn how to sort your waste by going to the Seattle Public Utilities website. Before composting the scraps of your carved pumpkins, consider reusing as much as you can.  The pieces that you cut out can be roasted to make into yummy spiced deserts later and the seeds can be roasted for a delicious snack. Unwrapped candy can also be composted. Things like candy wrappers, makeup containers, paint tubes and broken Halloween lighting/decorations all go in the garbage. If you sort your waste properly, your trash monster will be more like a friendly ghost than a poltergeist.

I love this time of year, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be excited to join in on all of the ghastly gatherings that are usually abundant right now.  But like many common horror tropes, we need to do everything that we can to keep ourselves, our neighbors and the planet safe. By following CDC Guidelines and being mindful of the items you purchase, use and dispose of, you’ll ensure that we’ll be able to keep living fright free far into the future.

Join UW Recycling on October 27th 12 - 1 p.m. as they make eco-friendly costumes from their closets.  Stop by (virtually) for tips or to ask recycling questions!