Halloween spending is estimated to reach $9 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation. (Yes, you read that right…billion with a “B.”)
And that’s scary. Because if you’re like most people, your living or storage space is already brimming with “stuff.” So while everyone else is focused on their candy consumption, do your part and focus on the “other” type of consumption by committing to a waste-free Halloween.
Here are some tips to help keep the excess down, while still going all out:
1. Never, Ever Buy a Costume.
We are sure that somewhere in your closet lurks the perfect get up, whether it’s an old white sheet that would make an ideal ghost or a sweatshirt that could use the “Flashdance” treatment for an ‘80s vibe. If you’re feeling really brave, check out what’s lurking in your storage space, as there is inevitably something that can be repurposed.
If you must make a purchase, either visit a second-hand shop, many of which create costume-themed displays this time of year, or buy an item that can become part of your wardrobe, suggests Pam McMurtry of Pam McMurtry Designs and author of A Harvest and Halloween Handbook. For example, she says her family will buy long-sleeved t-shirts or tights for costume foundations that can be worn afterwards.
And of course, one of your best bets is to swap with a friend, suggests Stephanie Seferian, blogger and host of “The Sustainable Minimalists” podcast.
2. Make Upcycled Halloween Decorations.
Wasting money on a bunch of junky plastic decorations from the big box stores is a Halloween horror, says Seferian. Instead, use what you have at home to make charming and cheap décor:
- Paint used, rinsed milk jugs as Jack-o-Lanterns
- Poke holes in aluminum cans and light a candle to add spooky ambiance to your walkway (extra points for using beeswax candles instead of paraffin)
- Blow up white balloons, draw a friendly or scary face with a permanent marker, and voila! You have a gaggle of ghosts.
- Don’t feel like cleaning the cobwebs off your light fixtures or ceiling? We’ll never tell they’re not part of your spooky décor! (Just kidding…sort of)
3. Help Your Party Guests Do Their Part.
Don’t assume the ghouls will take the time to carefully recycle. Make it easy by offering three clearly marked cans for waste.
- Recyclables (paper, glass, certain plastics)
- Compostable food scraps (vegetables, breads and non-meat and non-dairy items)
4. Don’t Smash that Pumpkin.
If you are carving a porch full of pumpkins, be sure to make the most of the “insides” says McMurtry. Roasted pumpkin seeds are the bomb.
Of course, intact pumpkins also morph perfectly into Thanksgiving lawn décor.
5. Find a Sweet Use for the Candy.
Once your little goblins have gorged themselves after their big night trick-or-treating, have them select a few pieces they especially love, then put the rest aside to use as mix-ins for cookies, toppings for brownies and sundaes or as the good part of trail mix.
And with the busy holiday baking season coming up, you might even want to stock up on extra if your ghosts didn’t get a big enough haul, since it all goes on sale the day after Halloween. If the candy isn’t clearly Halloween-themed, you can even save it to put in mugs or stockings as holiday gifts for friends and classmates, McMurtry says.
If you don’t think you’ll be using all the candy shortly, most types can be frozen, notes Seferian.