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a plastic-free Halloween

October 31, 2018

Most folks love Halloween. You get to dress up like your favorite character, you can gorge on candy until your stomach hurts and you get to carve, eat and drink pumpkin-inspired everything.

But during Halloween, there’s a lot of unnecessary plastic use and waste. USAgain, a clothing recycling program in Chicago, found that approximately 45 percent of the U.S. population dresses up on Halloween and the average amount of money one person spends on a costume and/or decorations is close to $80.

I’ve come up with a few ways to limit your waste this Halloween, save money and still have an awesome time.

STOP BUYING COSTUMES

For some, this might not be easy. And if you have kids — it’ll be even harder. But in my experience, homemade costumes are the best. They’re the most creative, thoughtful and funny. Also, you can make then unique to your body-type, so the outfit can compliment you better.

Since I can remember my mom has always handmade our Halloween costumes. Granted, she’s a good sewer and is pretty creative, the costumes she came up with were always top-notch. But even if sewing is NOT your thing (like me) there are ways to make an excellent Halloween costume without sewing a single stitch.

First, check out what you’ve already got hanging in our closets. If you’ve got something that can be made into a cool costume — perfect! If not, head over to Goodwill or another second-hand store and browse. Instead of buying an actual costume, buy pieces you’ll actually use again. For instance, for my costume last year, I was Hey Arnold from the Nickelodeon cartoon and my husband Mike was Gerald. I didn’t have a blue or plaid shirt so I bought them from Goodwill — and I plan on using ’em again because I like ’em!

There might be a few things you need to buy elsewhere — I once was a tooth fairy and didn’t have a tutu or wings, so I purchased those. But now, other people in my family have used both of them for their costumes because a tutu and wings are relatively versatile. Think sustainably! And, since Mike was prom king in high school, he already had his crown 🙂

And it’s really not that hard to do — not to mention it’s hilarious, ridiculous and a blast. Trust me. Mike and I have been dressing up together for the last several years and all of our costumes were homemade (with much help from my mom!).

Here are a few photos of the last few years of costuming….

2013: MERIDA (from Disney’s Brave) + my best friend Alisha was Rosie the Riveter

2014: TOOTH + TOOTH FAIRY

2015: POPEYE + OLIVE OYL

2017: ARTHUR + BUSTER

2018: HEY ARNOLD + GERALD

2019: HOGWARTS STUDENTS 

We used our college graduation robes, shirts we already had, a second-hand tie for me (#Ravenclaw) and my mom found a child-size Gryffindor tie for Mike on sale and bought it for him. We used sticks as wands. I had a Harry Potter-themed Halloween party this year, so we went with something super simple for our costumes!

CHOOSE PLASTIC-FREE CANDY TO PASS OUT

As far as plastic-free candy goes, you’ve got plenty of options.

1. Boxes: Dots, Nerds, Milk Duds, Lemon Heads, Red Hots, Mike and Ikes, etc. Or, mini boxes of raisins are also an option.

2. Buy bulk: Some people feel weird about buying bulk, because that means you have to handle the candy yourself and then kids are taking candy that you’ve wrapped yourself and…..I don’t know. I don’t have kids, but I can understand why this could be a worry to some parents. If that’s not a worry to you, buy bulk chocolate from the grocery store and put a bunch in paper bags.

3. Fruit: I’ve heard of people passing out mini oranges like Cuties/Halos and I think that’s a great idea! It gives kids some healthy sugar/energy to continue trick-or-treating and I’m sure it’ll brighten mom and dads day to see something a little healthier than a Twix sitting in their bag. Another option could be apples. I heard one woman puts out a basket full of apples each year and leaves a sign that reads “Poison Apples” on it. Kids love it!

4. Gifts: Pencils, erasers, crayons, a friendship bracelet kit (tie three strings together with a hole at the end to start the friendship bracelet), a Halloween poem, temporary tattoos (sometimes you can find ones just in paper), etc.

5. Aluminum cans: Pop, juice, sparkling water, etc. Although you don’t know if children will recycle the cans properly, it’s more likely that a pop can will be recycled than a bag of skittles.

USE UP ALL THE PUMPKIN

If you do carve pumpkins, be sure to research recipes to get the most out of your pumpkin.

Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup… you name it — there’s a recipe on the internet for it. If you’ve already bought a pumpkin, why not utilize the whole thing rather than running to Walmart to grab some pumpkin puree? Again I say, think sustain-ably folks!

None of these ideas are brilliant. But it’s to get you thinking….

Think of small ways you can limit your plastic and waste this Halloween and autumn season. And if you’re out with your kids trick-or-treating and you find trash on the ground or candy someone dropped just chilling on the sidewalk, please don’t leave the litter there. Whether it can be recycled, composted or not, the street is definitely not the best place for litter. Let’s be thoughtful cultivators of the land, fam. 🙂

Happy Halloween!

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