Halloween, like many holidays, is a fun time of celebration.
We gather with friends for parties, sure to bring smiles and laughter. We decorate our porches, lawns, and mantles. We even decorate ourselves and our children with costumes, paint, and more!
But, what about that morning after…
It’s November 1st, and the parties have all been thrown, trick or treating is over, and in many areas Christmas carols are already playing on local radio stations.
Sure, you can store some of the decor for next season, and I guess you can just toss good ole Jack (o-lantern) into the trash along with the extra party favors, candy, and perishable decor, but have you ever thought about a greener way to approach Halloween clean-up?
At Lifeboost, we believe in caring for the environment. A few ways we do this in regards to our coffee is by practicing sustainable farming methods and supporting organizations that aid in protecting the land and wildlife in the areas where it’s grown.
But, like you, we look for ways to practice these principles here at home in our day to day lives as well.
And, since we love Halloween and all the fun that comes with it, we wanted to look at some ways to make post Halloween clean up a bit more kind to the environment through reusing, repurposing, and more!
Why Repurpose, Why Reuse, Why Recycle?
When we reduce waste, we greatly benefit the environment.
From decreasing the amount of pollutants in the air, water, and on land, to reducing the amount of new goods being made, and preventing the overuse of natural resources, repurposing, reusing, and recycling all aid in our efforts to protect and preserve this land we so dearly love.
Of those three, people tend to be most familiar with recycling.
In this case, you gather used items and instead of sending them to a landfill in your trash, you separate them for the purpose of recycling, where this waste is collected to be changed or processed into materials available once again for human use.
Reusing and repurposing are closely related, with the goal here being to “create a usable product from waste or unwanted items or adapt an existing product in some way to add value.”
You may have also heard these practices referred to as upcycling.
When you repurpose, reuse, or upcycle items, you can -
- Save money as the products you’ve bought are used to their greatest extent
- Reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills
- Reduce the amount of items to be recycled
- Cut down on the production of hazardous waste (which occurs as new products are manufactured)
- Reduce the overall amount of air and water pollution
- Conserve energy
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Reduce the amount of strain put on natural resources (fuel, forests, water)
- Protect wildlife habitats
People can shy away from recycling and upcycling for various reasons, but sometimes this happens simply because we don’t realize how simple these practices can be.
And, when it comes to reusing and repurposing, it doesn’t get any easier!
Upcycling is one of the simplest ways to reduce waste, decrease consumption, and increase the lifespan of the resources available to us.
So then, how can we incorporate these practices post Halloween?
When it comes to holidays, let’s just admit it, we often like to go big or go home, right?
But, that doesn’t mean that our splurges in the name of fun and celebration have to harm the environment!
There’s of course the common practice of recycling that you can incorporate after your Halloween celebrations, collecting waste in the form of plastic, paper, glass, cardboard, some metals, and more.
But, before you make your way to the trash can or recycling bin, take a look at the following ways you may be able to extend the life of these items thereby saving you some hard earned cash while benefiting the planet in the process.
5 Ways To Repurpose Post Halloween
1- Costume Care
From spooky to creepy, trendy to terrible, frightening to frilly, cute and creative, dressing up in a carefully selected costume is possibly one of the most fun aspects of Halloween.
Some plan for months in advance, coordinating the perfect costume.
But, what can you do to avoid your Halloween garb becoming garbage?
- First, as you carefully select your costume, seek out outfit ideas that can be reused at a later date. The headband you used in conjunction with the leotard, leg warmers, and hairspray of course, for that rockin’ 80’s throwback look? Use it again (and again and again) in your weekly sweat sessions.
- Plan your Halloween wardrobe with a friend, so you can mix and match, trade and transfer, and then you can even hand down components of your killer costume to friends and family for later use.
- You can also put together a great look for Halloween from items you or your family members already have on hand. Have I ever told you about the time I pulled off an epic scarecrow look wearing my favorite flannel and jeans? We reused the hay in our yard, and the straw hat I purchased to complete the look has been used, reused, and used again by friends and neighbors.
- And, don’t forget about donations! Charitable organizations may be able to use components of your costume. Or, seek out teachers or daycare centers to see if they could use costumes and/or their components in lessons, role-play, or just for fun.
2- Dual Purpose Decor
Costumes don’t get all the glory this time of year.
With Halloween being a fall holiday, and we all love fall, right, there’s a good chance you like to flood your home, inside and out, with decor.
So, how can you avoid waste here?
Take a look at the following tips, and be creative! If you don’t see something specifically fitting in the list below, see how these tips can pertain to items you, personally, have purchased.
- A nocturnal winged favorite this time of year, the owl, is growing in its popularity as a Halloween prop. But, since this bird may not fit the bill when it comes to ordinary table top decor throughout the entire year, consider reusing such items (owls or other decor) in more subtle ways, such as bookends on shelves.
In fact, almost any ceramic piece can be used in this manner. Don’t tell my house guests, but I often use various holiday decor pieces to place behind items I want to stand out a bit more amongst other decor, the backside prop pushing more seasonally appropriate pieces to the forefront.
You can also consider saving decor each year, upcycling items by adding them to DIY projects like wreaths, centerpieces, tiered trays, or mantle decor to make those old pieces new again in fun, exciting, and creative ways.
- If you’re not planning to decorate for Christmas just yet, keep more neutral fall decorations around through Thanksgiving. This can allow you more time to enjoy those farm picked pumpkins, gourds, and mums.
- Just as the hay bales you used for a beautiful late September and early October displays for your pumpkins and mums turned into a frighteningly festive home for jack-o-lanterns, headless scarecrows, and spooky skeletons, you can also continue using these throughout the fall season post Halloween.
And, if you’re truly finished, ready for eggnog and carols by the stroke of midnight on Halloween, hay makes great mulch for your garden, and it can easily be composted, adding a good amount of nutrition to your soil.
Plan to repurpose plastic trick-or-treat pumpkins or buckets by using them as organizational tools within your child’s closets or drawers. You can get creative by painting these items to match existing color schemes or simply use them in less obvious areas.
And, don’t stop at the kids’ rooms. Does dad need a better method for sorting and storing garage items? These buckets and bins can be used there too!
- Candles are often used as a spooky addition to Halloween decor. Just be sure to save those candles and/or lights to use for other holiday pieces, at parties, for special occasions, or simply keep them around for practical use.
Before you dump any props used to elevate your home from cute to creepy, consider reusing cardboard and plastic items in play time fun with the kids or grandkids, maybe even donate for the neighbors to use with their children. (Or, like we mentioned regarding costumes, teachers and daycare centers may be able to benefit from these items, as long as they’re not too spooky.)
Then, once you’re truly finished with these items, of course be sure to recycle all appropriate materials.
- Also, seek to carefully plan ahead with your decor pieces, as you may find that items around your house can serve a dual purpose, doubling as creative, cute, or creepy Halloween eye-catchers.
A quick web search can reveal multiple ways this can be done, such as:
- using old mason jar lids and cinnamon sticks to make a cute pumpkin centerpiece
- transforming old cardboard toilet paper rolls into spooky candles with battery operated tea lights, a bit of black paint, and melted wax (or glue from a hot glue gun)
- carefully constructing a skeleton using old grocery store plastic bags bunched, shaped, and tied off with string or rubber bands
- using old tin cans (from soups, vegetables, etc) to make ghosts with a bit of white and black paint as well as some tissue paper to cut and attach flowing freely, and spookily, from the bottom of the cans
- making a gigantic and scary spider web by strategically attaching string to that old hula hoop that’s been collecting dust in your garage (you can paint the hoop black for best effect)
- painting old vases or jars you’re not using to create poisoned potion bottles for use in your scary Halloween spread
- distressing or painting old fence boards to make festive porch decor
- cutting out a bit of felt or black paper to attach to existing planters in your home, transforming terracotta pots and other plant containers into cute jack-o-lantern faces (obviously these can then be easily removed after Halloween)
3- Pumpkins With A Purpose
One of the most common sights all throughout the fall season, Halloween included, are pumpkins!
This gourd, in all shapes, colors, and sizes graces porch steps, driveways, window sills, tabletops, counters, mantles, and more.
But, what can you do with them when the fun is done?
No matter how you use pumpkins throughout the fall season, there are a multitude of ways you can repurpose or recycle them.
First, eat them! Obviously you can’t eat pumpkins after they’ve been sitting on your porch or lawn for a month or more, we’ll get to how you can repurpose those in a moment. But, if you’ve had some smaller varieties of pumpkins used throughout your indoor decor schemes, you can use some varieties for making pies, soups, muffins, and more.
I like to use pie pumpkins for decor inside my home. After a few weeks, definitely before they spoil, I use them for baking. Then I replace the now eaten pumpkins with a new round of edible decor, and begin the fun, decorative, and delicious process all over again.
For pumpkins you intend to carve, consider displaying those beauties outdoors for a few weeks as part of your fall decor before transitioning to a spooky jack-o-lantern, and as you carve, be sure to save those seeds!
If you’ve never roasted pumpkin seeds, you’re truly missing out. Not only are they delicious, they’re also full of needed nutrients and beneficial antioxidants!
Once you’ve hollowed out Jack for his creepy-faced display for Halloween, you can use him as a base for growing other plants immediately after your frightmare on Elm Street celebration.
Simply fill up any pumpkin ‘carcass’ with soil, plant the seeds you’d like to grow, and once they sprout you can easily transfer this pumpkin tray directly to your garden or pot. As the pumpkin flesh decomposes, the surrounding soil will benefit from its nutrients.
Particularly if you live in a more rural setting, plan to cut up fresh pumpkins and gourds you’ve used for lawn or porch decor and spread them (minus their seeds unless you want a pumpkin patch growing on your property) throughout your garden or discrete areas of your yard where wildlife can feast on the leftover fall beauties.
As long as your pumpkins aren’t rotten, consider donating them to farmers as well, who can use them as feed for their livestock. Even zoos can use pumpkins for animal feed, just be sure to call ahead and ask for the particulars regarding donation.
- If you’ve used fresh pumpkins for indoor decor, plan to blend the leftovers with a bit of coconut oil for a moisturizing hair mask. Or, make a face scrub full of antioxidants, and vitamins A and C!
How To Make A Pumpkin Face Mask
- Puree roughly one slice or a ½ cup of pumpkin in a food processor until smooth.
- Add 1 raw egg, ½ teaspoon raw honey, and ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar to the pumpkin. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
- Apply the pumpkin mask to your clean face. Relax and enjoy for 15-20 minutes.
- Rinse off the mask, then apply your usual skin care products.
- And lastly, pumpkins make a great addition to your compost bin or pile. If you already have a compost bin, simply add your post-Halloween pumpkins to the bin like any other fruit or vegetable.
If you don’t have a compost bin, you can remove any decor, wax, or paint from your pumpkins, cut them into small pieces (removing the seeds of course), and place them in sunny areas throughout your yard. Cover these bits with leaves and they’ll compost on their own.