What’s Orange and Black and Green All Over?
My earliest Halloween memory is of me walking down the sidewalk dressed as an angel with my little plastic pumpkin, going door to door to collect candy from strangers – the only day on the calendar that it’s acceptable to do that. I was hooked! Since that day many moons ago, I have been spellbound by pumpkins, the paranormal, and perfectly planned costumes.
According to the National Retail Federation, I am not alone. Halloween spending is expected to reach $8.4 billion this year, with more than 171 million Americans planning to celebrate. What does that mean? Often a bunch of waste. That’s not to say there is no reason to celebrate, but if you want to live with a smaller impact on the planet, it’s important to consider how you join in the fun.
Here’s how I do it.
I reuse everything and add to my decorations every year – maybe a glass skull, some artificial ravenous ravens, or a few spooky snapshots to hang in my soon-to-be haunted home. But before I add, I take an inventory or look around my home for something I can repurpose. It’s quite surprising what items can take on the spirit of the season just by adding a witch hat or a phony spider. This provides me with an opportunity to repair any old or broken items and also add to my collection.
When I started my Halloween décor collection, it wasn’t necessarily with the intention of reusing everything – in fact, many of the things I bought or made were intended to be used only once. But when I realized that the foam headstones and the paper bats were still in good shape on November 1, I decided to keep them, making sure they were properly preserved for the following year. I took the time to repackage each bat cutout and sprayed the foam headstones with some all-weather protectant in case it rained.
Eventually I purchased higher-quality tombstones rather than the hard-to-recycle foam type. I rummaged through thrift stores to find items I could repurpose in my haunted home: picture frames that I painted black and candlesticks for that formal frightening feel. I bought some items new, I admit, like my plastic skeleton, Ricky, my tattered black cheesecloth, and my faux ravens. But, I have used them for the past several years and will continue to do so. And to prevent myself from spending more money or even filling my garage with more things, I repurpose my everyday items by adding a little Halloween flair, like a little witch hat on a ceramic cat. The only item that I don’t reuse are the phony spider webs, which get all clumped up when you try to reuse them. I am currently researching an alternative that doesn’t create more waste or involve letting actual spiders do all the work while I sit back and relax.
You may be asking what I’ll be doing this year to step up my Hallow-green game. Of course, I have reused all my decorations, and I even found ways to salvage some that were doomed to the garbage graveyard. In addition, I will be hosting a “less-waste” party since I’m not quite ready to host a “zero-waste” shindig. I will be labeling all my waste bins, including one for food waste (hopefully, there won’t be too much) and setting out as many regular plates, utensils, and glasses as I can. I will also be packing leftovers for my guests. Candy will be limited or purchased in bulk to reduce packaging waste since those wrappers are not easily recycled. All my invitations will be sent out via email, text, or Snapchat. And ghastly, er lastly, my Halloween costume will likely be made of multiple costumes from previous years.
My soiree will be a boo-tiful bash, and the holiday will be a little more eek-o-friendly than each year that came before it.