Halloween Waste & Recycling Tips
Halloween might be a time for ghoulish festivities and spooky spirits, but the amount of waste produced from this holiday is downright terrifying. Not to fear: Rumpke’s waste and recycling “tricks” will add more green to your Halloween and help minimize environmental impact.
Reducing Halloween Waste
Consider Natural Decorations
The frightening reality of in-store Halloween décor is that manufacturers mass-produce them using plastic and other human-made materials—materials that don’t always make it to either the landfill or recycling facility. Natural décor like pumpkins, varieties of squash, leaves, hay bales, flowers and dried corn can make your home just as on-theme for October. Afterward, you can compost them and give nutrients back to the earth.
Reuse Your Household Items
We all have household items that we tend to forget about, but repurposing them is a fun and inventive way to design a spine-chilling atmosphere. Fill glasses or jars with water and red or bright green food coloring. Add gummy worms or old golf clubs as eyes to make them look like intoxicating witch’s brew.
Use old pillowcases, illustrate a tombstone image and stretch them over cardboard or chairs to transform your front yard into a graveyard. The possibilities are endless!
DIY Costumes & Bags
Halloween is everyone's annual excuse to dress up as someone or something fun. However, certain Halloween costumes can be a significant contributor to textile waste. Rather than buying single-use apparel, use the clothing and fabrics you already have! You can also shop for different pieces for your look at a local thrift store. Check out these great costumes straight from your recycling bin!
Instead of buying a new trick-or-treat bag every year that could be made of plastic, you can fashion other reusable materials for an eco-friendly bag.
Try These Alternatives:
- Tote bags
- Drawstring bags
- Old handbags
Want to get creative with the kids and make a lasting memory? Design customized Halloween bags together with different craft materials to design a bag with their favorite Halloween images and their name!
Donate Your Halloween Costumes
Nothing is scarier than throwing away a perfectly usable costume! Spread the spooky cheer and donate it if it's in good condition. Donating gently used clothing lessens a community's carbon footprint and is much more budget friendly. Below is a list of ways to donate your Halloween attire.
Donate to Local Organizations and Thrift Stores
Charities and non-profit organizations always need contributions and sometimes run seasonal campaigns for specific items, such as Halloween costumes. Children’s hospitals may need costumes if they have a special Halloween event for the kids. For all ages, second-hand stores take used goods year-round, and your neighbors would appreciate access to your gently used costumes at a more reasonable cost. Also, check with area schools about possible collection programs.
Give or Loan to Family and Friends
If you want to ensure your costume gets used, contact friends and family to see if they need one. Either loan it to them or give it away if you don’t plan to wear it again.
Attend a Buy, Sell, or Swap Event
Some groups on social media based in your area may organize a costume swap or buy/sell event. Take your lightly used costumes and sell, buy or swap them with others in your community. If there’s nothing hosted near you, consider advertising them on reselling platforms and local online marketplaces.
Perform a Halloween Waste Audit
A fun science project for the kids: track your Halloween waste!
If you aren’t sure how much your household contributes to Halloween-related waste, monitor the amount and types of waste you produce this Halloween. Have two separate areas for your Halloween-dedicated waste. Make sure it’s separate from your everyday waste. After the holiday, see which section had the largest amount: trash or recycling? If you find more items in the garbage, plan for ways to address and cut down on waste for next year. This could easily be used as a science project for the kids.
How Can We Reduce Waste at Halloween?
On average, a single trick-or-treater produces one pound of trash. Individual candy wrappers are small, so they get easily swept up and litter our neighborhoods. Ensure that wrappers are secured in your waste bin and don’t accidentally fly away.
If you’re throwing a Halloween Eve bash, there are plenty of ways to make it more eco-friendly:
- Make recycling easy for your guests by placing collection bins in high-traffic areas of your party and be sure to clearly label them.
- Don’t assume your guests know what to recycle. Place signs on your recycling containers so guests will easily recycle aluminum cans, glass bottles and certain cups.
- Use biodegradable or reusable plates and cups.
- Provide finger foods that can be eaten without plates.
- Encourage guests to write their names on disposable cups to reuse them.
- Plate foods in glass or recyclable containers.
- Avoid foil roasters or disposable casserole tins.
How to properly dispose of my pumpkin?
Cook & Eat Them
Quite easy! Eating your jack-o-lanterns is safe if well-preserved. Pumpkin flesh can be pureed and used in pies, soups, sauces and more. Rinse off the pumpkin before pureeing!
Place Them in the Compost
You can compost at home or check with your municipality and identify a neighborhood compost bin you can take them to. If you don’t have a compost bin available, use your yard. Find a sunny spot in the yard, slice the pumpkin into pieces and cover them with leaves for a quicker composition process.
Feed Them to the Animals
Cats, dogs, guinea pigs and hamsters love pumpkin seeds and small amounts of flesh. Ask your vet before serving, though! No pets? Feed them to local wildlife by leaving them in the corner of your yard or in a local park so that deer, squirrels and chipmunks can munch on them.
Place in the Trash Can
If there are no other options, pumpkins can be placed in a bag in your trash can. Keep in mind weight guidelines for trash pick-up in your neighborhood. Pumpkins should NOT go in your curbside yard waste or recycling containers.
How can I stay safe while trick-or-treating?
Rumpke drivers are on the streets every day, often working in the dark to collect trash and recycling at the curb. These drivers receive extensive training before hitting the streets. For Halloween night, parents and children should take similar precautions:
1. Be Visible
Avoid accidents by making sure children are visible in their costumes, and that masks do not hinder their sight.
2. Plan Ahead
Set clear expectations and rules for older trick-or-treaters out on their own.
3. Use Street Smarts
Always look both ways before crossing streets, and travel with a group.