Sustainable-ish Hallowe’en Costumes, Decorations & Treats

Hallowe'en Apothocary Display

Halloween used to be my favourite time of the year. It was the one holiday that didn’t involve buying copious amounts of gifts and seem to involve more fun than preparation. Well I can no longer say that this is the case. I have found that avoiding plastic at Halloween is impossible if you’re going to participate in the celebrations, particularly when you have children who don’t buy into the whole Zero Waste idea.

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I know some of you will probably be shouting at your devices telling me that I should just inform my kids of how it’s going to be. I could do that, but I want them to embrace sustainability of their own volition and in my experience the quickest way to turn somebody off something is to force them to do it. So everyday I nudge, nudge them towards experiences instead of toys, nudge them towards package-free treats, nudge them towards sustainable Hallowe’en celebration and on and on.

But it’s not as if the more sustainable option is always clear. Take Halloween costumes. I fondly remember when I used to be able to cajole my kids into a pre-loved costume from the local charity shop, which I would pass on. Unfortunately a generic witch / vampire / zombie costume just doesn’t cut it any longer with them. Both of my kids have very clear ideas about being obscure characters from either a cult video game or a YouTube video. Groan! I’ve been researching materials and when you factor in the energy required to travel to the shops and packaging the materials come in you start to wonder if reusing materials or making costumes from card and paper is really sustainable at all. And that’s to say nothing of the time, something I seem in increasingly short supply of!

If this post sounds like a moan, it’s because it is! But fear not I have a solution brewing in my head. It’s too late for this year but it’s a project I’d love to get involved in for next year. I’ll keep you posted.

So avoiding plastic completely might be impossible but reducing your use of it is not. Here are some ideas for sustainable costume and decorating ideas that you can enjoy.

The photo above is of my hall table which I’ve decorated with jars and bottles upcycled into apothecary paraphernalia. I store them empty in the attic and then just fill them with dyed water when Hallowe’en rocks around. You can download template labels online. My favs are from, Domestically Creative, Hallowe’en Forum

Happy Halloween Burlap Banner

This Hallowe’en banner, made in burlap / hessian by the author of the blog, could be even more sustainable if were able to recycle food sacks and used tea to dye it instead of spray paint.

Illuminated Spider Jars

An article on sustainable Hallowe’en decorations wouldn’t be complete without featuring some mason jars and here they are. Just fill up any empty jars with fairy lights, cotton balls or cheesecloth and either place a plastic inside or if you don’t have any paint one on the inside of the jar.

Upcycled Mummy Luminary

If spiders aren’t your thing then maybe you’ll be charmed by the delightful Mummy Luminaries, inspired by the Pottery Barn and created by the same person who did the banner above. What a talented lady!

Creepy Hedge

But let’s face it you put a pair of eyes on anything and it makes it look creepy. Am I right?


Head on a Plate Costume

Made substantially from reusable and compostable items, this is a simple but effective Head on a Plate costume.

Ring Pop Costume

So I have a think for card-based costumes. I think it’s my love of paper leaking out. Anyway I looooooove this DIY Ring Pop Costume by Studio DIY.  I don’t have time to make it this year but it’ll be on my to-do list next year.

pacman dress

I’m loving this easy-peasy Pac-man dress that allows you to use a simple black dress. So much so that I’ll be sporting it come the 31st! I find Costume Works a great resource for DIY costume ideas and if you’re a sewer you’ll find free Hallowe’en sewing patterns on So Sew Easy.

Paper Dinosaur Tail

If you’ve a dinosaur fan in the house you may like this downloadable template for a paper dinosaur tail.

Hessian / Burlap Sack Mask

And if you’re looking for something a bit more terrifying, there’s a whole series of tutorials on how to make your own burlap / hessian masks online. This is the tamest of the ones I found. The others totally freaked me out!

Every year I ask myself the same question how do I avoid plastic when buying treats to give out at the door. In the past I’ve made my own honeycomb but stopped when I discovered that it turns to gloop if it isn’t eaten straight away – unless you coat it in chocolate, which is too expensive for me. I’ve seen others suggest home-made popcorn, granola, cookies and buns. This might be an option but I’m a bit concerned that this stuff will turn to mush under the weight of shop-bought sweets.

Halloween Goodie Bag Toppers

We get approximately 40 trick or treaters on Hallowe’en night, so I won’t be making these gorgeous Hallowe’en goodie bag toppers myself but I think they’re ideal if you’re having a Hallowe’en party with fewer guests. To make them a bit more sustainable I’d suggest replacing the plastic bag with a compostable paper lunch bags instead, which you can get these in most supermarkets.

Next weeks I’ll be featuring some novel Hallowe’en food ideas and stylish table decorating ideas.

If you have more energy than ideas then check out my Hallowe’en articles from last year including;




Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

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