How to Have an Enjoyable and Sustainable Halloween

Halloween is less just a few days away, and now is the time to finish up any last-minute planning you might have to do to ensure a fun and safe evening. However, holidays have long been linked to excess consumerism, and enjoying a spooky Halloween shouldn’t come at the expense of our planet. Below are 10 simple steps you can take to have an eco-friendly Halloween- one that you can feel good about.

  1. 1. Compost your pumpkins

    Standing around a variety of pumpkins

    Did you know that the halloween pumpkins contribute to 1.3 billion pounds of waste in the landfill per year in the United States alone? If you purchased any pumpkins this year, make an effort to compost them instead of throwing them away. Composting can be done in a variety of different ways, but the most convenient method for busy college students would be to look up a local drop-off location. Check the website and social media channels of your local farmers markets, city waste management, and private composting companies to set up a time to drop off your pumpkins and gourds. 

  2. 2. Use the inside of your pumpkins to make pumpkin soup, pie, and more

    Pumpkin Pie

    homemade pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, PSL, and roasted pumpkin seeds to name a few. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people do not use their pumpkins for anything other than Jack-o-Lanterns or front porch decor. Save the pumpkin filling after you carve , or opt for painting/drawing on the pumpkins instead, and use them to make some delicious fall recipes! For more inspiration, check out this article from The Everygirl and get cooking! 

  3. 3. Create costumes from what you already have in your closet

    sweaters on clothing rack, sheaf of wheat next to it

    Halloween costumes do not have to be synonymous with low-quality garments that you only wear once in your entire life. In fact, “shopping” from your closet may make your look that much more elevated and flattering. After all, the pieces from your closet are more likely to be ones that fit you better and ones that you feel comfortable in. While there are a great number of DIY costume possibilities, here are some fun options below: 

     

    Sandy from Grease

    What you’ll need:

    Faux-leather pants/ leggings/ black skinny jeans, an off-the-shoulder black top, fun hoop earrings, and a pair of heels. Don’t sweat it if you don’t own leather bottoms- a pair of tried-and-true black skinny jeans will do the trick. 

     

    Ghostbusters

    What you’ll need:

    a khaki or tan jumpsuit, a backpack, and some cute sneakers.  

     

    Princess Leia

    What you’ll need:

    A white dress, a fun belt, some white shoes, and a tutorial that will teach you exactly how to recreate her famous hair-do

     

    Scarecrow

    What you’ll need:

    Your cutest overalls, a long sleeve top, and a straw hat. Maybe some cute or spooky makeup as well! 

     

    Elle Woods- 

    What you’ll need:

    In honor of Legally Blonde 3 arriving in 2022, it is time to break out everything that is pink in your closet. Throw on your favorite pink dress or pair a pink blazer with a pink pencil skirt and you can channel your favorite Harvard Law grad in no time. 

     

    Mary Poppins-

    What you’ll need:

    a white button-down shirt,  cute red bow, a black skirt, some tights, heeled black ankle boots, and a cute black fedora. Grab an umbrella, and your look is complete!

  4. 4. Repurpose an old costume 

    Another way to be eco-conscious in the costume department is to reuse and repurpose something you already own. For me, being creative with my costumes is half the fun of dressing up for Halloween! Chances are, you have some old costumes stashed away somewhere, and now would be the perfect time to dig them out and assess their condition. Obviously, you shouldn’t dress up as something you don’t want to or wear something that no longer fits, but if it is possible, utilize the accessories or the wigs that came with the costume, cut the fabric into a more flattering fit, tie-dye it (and turn it into a Carole Baskin costume, if you’re into Tiger King), or consider swapping it with a friend’s costume or gifting it to a sibling to avoid having it go to waste. 

  5. 5. Use the makeup you already own

    makeup products and candles laying on a table

    A costume just isn’t complete without the proper makeup, but instead of purchasing cheap, drugstore alternatives or costume-specific ones from Party City for the sake of one night, use what you already have in your collection. A bright red lipstick, some good mascara, and your favorite eyeshadow palette can go a long way in bringing your look to the next level. If you do end up purchasing new products, look into clean beauty brands and purchase ones that you can seamlessly integrate into your existing makeup routine. For the looks that require specific products, such as white face paint or fake blood, remember to purchase only what you need to avoid having leftovers that are no good, and save whatever will last for next year.

  6. 6. DIY decorations instead of purchasing new ones 

    halloween cookies

    Staying at home has turned many of us into master creators. From the banana bread baking and Dalgona coffee making earlier this year, to the comeback of knitting and crochet, arts and crafts seems to be an integral part of life in quarantine. Now is the time to put those Amazon Prime boxes to good use and turn them into spooky tombstones, Hocus Pocus signs, and cardboard cutouts of pumpkins, ghosts, and bats. You can also paint mason jars into spooky monster candy jars, and turn old stockings into cobwebs. Bonus points if you turn it into a virtual craft night with your BFFs. 

  7. 7. Save your decorations for next year 

    Orange and gray jack-o-lantern

    After the festivities are over, carefully store the decorations away instead of tossing them out. 

    Put them in a bin underneath your bed, store them in your closet, or ask your parents if you can keep them in their garage or attic. There’s no reason that you can’t enjoy the same decorations next year, and keeping them for future use not only reduces your environmental impact, but also saves money in the long run. Eventually, when it’s time to say goodbye, drop them off at your local donation center. 

  8. 8. Stay away from single-use plates, cups, and utensils

    While we shouldn’t be having large gatherings, a Halloween party with your roommates or family members is totally fine. Stay away from single-use, disposable serving ware and utensils. Instead, opt to use what you already have in your kitchen cabinet. If it is really necessary to use disposable items, ensure that they are compostable and biodegradable, and dispose of them properly- compostable items are only compostable if disposed of under the proper conditions. Yes, biodegradable items biodegrade much more slowly, if at all, in landfills because landfills do not provide the proper conditions for the process to occur. Again, if you don’t live in a city that has a composting system and aren’t signed up for a private service, a quick Google search should find drop-off locations in your local area. 

  9. 9. Shop second-hand and/or vintage 

    A picture of clothes on racks at a clothing store

    The clear benefit of purchasing and thrifting is that you are not contributing to climate change by purchasing new items that were created using resources, power,  labor, and then transported to you from thousands of miles away. However, another benefit is that  you can uncover some hidden gems. Think about it this way: How many times have you browsed a thrift store, flea market, or an antique shop and stumbled across a one-of-a-kind item at a killer price? While in-person shopping may be limited and should probably be avoided as much as possible, there are plenty of online and contactless options available. Check your local Facebook marketplace, Craigslist,  Poshmark, or Depop for clothing, costumes, and accessories. 

  10. 10. Only purchase what you truly love

    sign that says come in we're open

    I wanted to end this article with a concept that I have truly come to embrace this year: Only purchasing items that I love. This is a principle that should be applied to every transaction because not only does it lower your carbon footprint, but also keeps you within budget and away from impulse buying. Purchasing items that you actually love- instead of for the sake of purchasing them- not only ensures that they stay in your possession longer, but also prevents you having to frequently replace them due to them “going out of style” or “no longer sparking joy”. In the end, not only will you have curated a collection of clothing and items that make you happy, but you would have also saved money and helped protect the Earth.