Every season, holiday decorations seem to make their debut earlier and earlier. Dash into your local drugstore for a toothbrush in August and chances are the “seasonal” aisle is already stocked with Halloween decor. If you, or your kids, are tempted by the fun plastic spiders, it’s important to notice that single-use plastic and environmentally spooky synthetic materials dominate the scene.
In fact, each celebrating American spends about $77 annually on one-time Halloween decor. Think about the waste that we’re generating when all those festive materials get tossed in the landfill?! If you want to entice trick-or-treaters to your door on Halloween eve while reducing your carbon footprint, you might want to clean up your act. Since we’re experts in outdoor care, here are some creative outdoor decor alternatives to keep spooky spirits high and environmental waste low:
The most iconic Halloween decoration, the Jack-O-Lantern, is a classic with real staying power. Although they aren’t reusable, pumpkins are (obviously) biodegradable. Do your carving thing and try opting for a natural beeswax or solar LED tealight to minimize its eco footprint. When your pumpkins have done their duty, don’t throw them away—opt for the compost bin instead to nourish your lawn come springtime. (And make sure to roast the seeds into a tasty snack!)
When it comes to the environment, the scariest decorations of all are those spiderwebs-in-a-bag that, once stretched, are hardly reusable. A playful alternative? Weave your own with black or white yarn and complete the look with spooky felt spiders. To make a grand impact, stretch your web between two trees, over windows or onto the roof. The webs are space-efficient if storing for another year and their yarn can be reused the rest of the holiday season (e.g. gift wrapping).
The Graveyard Shift
Giant plastic inflatable monsters make a theatrical impression that’s hard to beat. Converting your front lawn into a Halloween graveyard is the quickest way to make a lasting impression without draining energy and resources. Wrangle up old cardboard boxes, scrap pieces of wood and some non-toxic paint to get your creative juices flowing. Glue wooden stakes to the back of your cardboard headstones and arrange them at varying angles for effect. Bonus idea: stuff old shirt sleeves and gloves with newspaper to make them ‘sprout’ from the ground for a zombie scare!
Old white sheets can have a second life as, you guessed it, old school ghosts. Stuff the head with scraps of fabric or newspaper and glue on black felted eyes and mouth. Hang in a shadowy area, from trees or roof rafters. Cheesecloth also makes for a ghoulish fabric when draped over wooden stakes or tree branches, and can be reused year after year. Scarecrows can do double-duty as garden protectors and spooky monsters with the addition of tattered clothes and witchy hat.
Take a tour around your house or local thrift shop. You’ll be surprised how many things can be repurposed for creepy decoration: old brooms, dusty bottles, dripping candles. Your front yard may already have a treasure trove of organic decorations waiting to be used. Piles of leaves, creepy twigs and handfuls of moss will add dramatic effect to any ghostly scene. Once you get going, the sky is the limit for your DIY Halloween possibilities. Your wallet, and the environment, will thank you!
Written by Jordyn Cormier