This Fall Season and Halloween Doesn’t Have to be Scary for the Environment (or your Wallet)
October is here and you know what that means right? That means getting outside and immersing yourself among the multi coloured leaves, with bright hues of red, orange and yellow. That means feeling the crisp fall air on your face and the transition to cozy-oversized sweaters – and of course, sipping creamy hot coco or hot-spiced apple cider in your all-time-favourite mug! The fall season, otherwise known as Autumn, is my favourite time of year, not just because that’s my name (Autumn) but because of the beauty, comfort and joy I always experience each year around this time. From having the privilege of growing up with hundred year-old ash, willow and maple trees on my property, there was never any shortage of leaves to rake and piles to play amongst or, community events to engage in. Some of my favourite things to do in the fall season were carving pumpkins and roasting their seeds for a yummy snack, and joining in the festivities! I loved to experience the huge corn mazes in the Valley with my family, scream my butt-off at several local haunted houses, or attend the annual Mahone Bay Scarecrow Festival. Ever since I could remember, I always loved the fall season but most of all, I enjoyed celebrating Halloween and the connection and warmth it brought me.
The bus ride home from school was seemingly endless but when the big yellow machine hauled to a stop, I got up from my seat, hopped down those stairs onto the ground, and felt my excitement grow. Coming home from school was often a joy for young people but when I saw my father shucking corn in the back yard or finishing putting out the last several carved pumpkins and decor, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to see my friends and family and of course, fill my pillow case with loads of candy later that night!
My mother used to hand-craft my costumes, from the classic witch to lady bugs to Big Bird… She was always sewing away at night leading up to that oh-so-special-day, and now that I’m older, I appreciate her even more so for doing all that she did back then. As I reminisce about my childhood during the fall season and Halloween celebrations, I think about how thoughtful my mother was to source many of the materials for my costumes from thrift stores or from things around the house – she was so resourceful and conscious of her spending. Now that I’m older, I’m more mindful of how I choose to go about this time of year!
We all love to celebrate the fall season and Halloween holiday with our friends and family, and can relate ourselves or know others who vary from the all-out spooky decor and costumes, to the subtle hints of fall additions through candles or the original witch costume that never gets old. Wether you enjoy decorating your house and handing out candy, or you enjoy hosting parties with loved ones and dressing up to go trick-or-treating yourself, there are many ways to simplify and green your Halloween, from spooky design aesthetics for your home, to fun costume ideas for the entire family! Whatever your Halloween wishes, this guide will hopefully provide some insight as to where to begin this holiday season, since its no surprise that Halloween is a consumption based holiday that produces a lot of waste and isn’t the most eco-friendly.
6 Tips and Tricks to Help You Have a Spooky Yet Sustainable Fall and Halloween
1. Be a Conscious Consumer!
Something that many of us struggle with at times is sourcing of our materials, be it lack of awareness or understanding, budget, or perhaps relating to our time management and we’re in a rush and can’t always make our local farmer’s market because we have to take our child to their sports game or music lessen. We’re all very busy around this time of year but just remember to try your best to plan in advance and in sourcing eco-friendly and ethical materials this Halloween season.
- Keep in mind that sourcing eco-friendly and ethical materials starts with taking the time to do a quick search on the product and do research if you feel weary on something.
- Look at where products were made on labels and ask yourself if you know what ingredients are listed, search up a term, and see if there are any reviews online.
- Additionally, you can ask yourself about brands and retailers and question how their products are made, how they speak about protecting the environment and look after their workers, and note any green/greenwashing claims they make, especially if it’s not clear on the product itself or their website.
- Further, always try to find credible certification schemes from organizations you trust. Know that we as consumers have a direct influence on sustainability and every act, including what and where we purchase our materials and how we reuse/repurpose or recycle them matters.
- Try to source eco-friendly and ethical materials from your community including local farmers and at farmers markets!
- This includes sourcing our beloved pumpkins. Many folks are quick to forget that many pumpkins are sprayed with heavy-duty pesticides. They are often shipped over long distances which directly relates to large carbon footprints.
- Try to ensure that your Jack-o-Lantern is organically grown if possible and aim for locally produced by purchasing your pumpkin from your nearest farmer.
- If you can, grow your own! Kids love to help and love watching things grow!
- If you choose to carve your pumpkin/s, try to opt for creating less waste by roasting the seeds and baking with the interior (make pumpkin pie or muffins with the fruit) or compost it.
- Once your pumpkin has been used for its holiday season and it is past its prime, be sure to compost it accordingly based on your community recycling facility’s recommendations.
- For Halloween festivities, instead of single-use dishes/cups/cutlery, opt for reusable items to decrease party-waste. Purchasing neutral colours ensures you are able to use these for many more of your parties into the future! Additionally, buying biodegradable items and using a marker/labels/stickers to identify each person’s items dramatically decreases waste!
2. Start Learning About Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Costumes!
Lots of costumes available in stores contain toxic dyes and petroleum-based materials. Where you can, try to source materials or costumes made of 100% cotton, hemp, wool, or silk and think about where these fabrics/materials are created and by who.
- Try your hand at some simple DIY nature-inspired Halloween costumes such as the loch moss monster/a forest elf etc. – Get creative and engage your littles where possible!
- Shop at thrift shops, consignment stores and yard sales, instead of buying retail.
- Let your kids’ imaginations run wild! Make a game of turning old clothes into costumes.
- Keep in mind that many costumes can be used multiple times or all year long for kids to play dress-up!
- Pillowcases make great loot bags and are customizable and reusable. They are washable, and a queen or king-size will hold more candy than a typical plastic tub or regular shopping bag.
3. Start the Conversation With Your Friends/Family or Online – Host a Costume Swap
When it comes to saving money costumes are easily one of the most expensive aspects of the Halloween Holiday celebration. Store-bought costumes typically cost a fortune and although DIY costumes can help alleviate this financial stress and often saves a lot of money, they can involve a lot of time and energy running from thrift shop to thrift shop sourcing your materials, then putting them all together. Often times, people have excess Halloween costumes and materials that they’ve never even used or used for one night (be it for themselves or their child, then outgrew or never needed again). In many cases, these costumes and fabrics are perfect to gift or lend to others!
Have you ever heard of a clothing swap? Instead of swapping out our clean, good-condition, every-day wardrobe, let’s breathe new life into awesome Halloween costumes.
A great way to go about this is to start chatting with friends and family, perhaps even start a conversation online. There are tons of Buy Nothing groups or other sharing platforms online, ready to encourage more sharing and less consuming/buying! You could invite folks’ over for a get together or meet at a local park to encourage each other to offer up their unused Halloween costumes (for all folks, children and adults). See How to Host a Costume Swap (Green Child Magazine, 2022).
Through borrowing or swapping others’ used (or even unused at times) costumes, we’re able to:
- Build connections with friends and family or form bonds with new friends
- Save money and time and
- Avoid further waste. This means less resources are used to make and package new products, as well as less transportation of the product being executed (reduced greenhouse gasses emitted), and lastly, less waste from costumes being used once and then disposed of.
4. Upcycle/ DIY and Share/Swap your Decorations!
Like it or not, much of the Halloween decor we see today is made with harsh chemicals and is overall, very wasteful. One of my favourite ways to get creative around this time of year while I often work with the children in my life includes using what’s around the house and up-cycling it into something pretty cool! Get into that spooky Halloween mood by looking around your house and inside in your recycling bin, see if you can find materials such as: paper, cardboard, milk jugs, egg-cartons, aluminum cans, pumpkins/gourds, straw or hay bales, corn stalks, reusable decorations such as garland and paper for banners, LED and solar lights, and whatever else you have on hand. Don’t forget to use seasonal food items like squash, gourds, dried corn husks, and even apples. Know that there’s always something fun to make, no matter your skill level or budget and everything all ties into fun and creative crafts that friends and family can make or share together and enjoy for years to come.
- Some Halloween craft project ideas that will definitely put you in the spooky mood:
- Poke holes in aluminum cans, paint the exterior to make it your own and place led candles inside.
- Paint milk jugs orange as up-cycled Jack-o-Lanterns.
- Create paper mache spiders from old paper or paint egg-cartons to maker ghosts or spiders.
- Use old bingo cards or other paper as is/painted attached to twine to create cool banners personalized to your space (see photos below).
- Use flowers that are in season (ie. asters, golden rod, sedum) in your local area and remember that you can dry them for/after use or add them to your yard/meadow, or in the compost bin.
- Natural wood and leaf litter are great decorations for Halloween. Head outside to your yard or to the local trail or park you enjoy and find sticks or twigs. Add them to a vase or other section of your home. The leaf litter can be used as is, crumpled up, or hole punched for confetii!
- Buy or create your own eco-friendly soy candles or paints and makeup (made of fruit and vegetable dyes for example)
- Keep researching online. A great place to start is Pinterest, or here.
5. Purchase ethical candy/snacks where applicable, and ensure treats aren’t wasted!
There are plenty of health-and allergy-conscious variations for your Halloween holiday celebrations. Pinterest has a variety of intriguing snacks and recipes to create but don’t forget to chat with friends and family for favourite recipes to share, and potentially create a potluck event!
- Buy locally produced foods, candies and treats and check labels to see that chocolate and sugar are from sustainable sources. Fair-Trade certified products ensure sustainable harvests and ensure farmers can secure fair and sustainable livelihoods, so try to splurge on local and Fair-Trade certified chocolates another other snacks this Halloween.
- Look for goodies with minimal packaging and/or those made packaged in recycled materials.
- Reduce food waste and make sure that the Halloween treats actually get eaten. You can reduce waste by:
- Freezing candy for when you want it.
Freeze some for snacks later on (such as in trail mix’s, or in baking of baked goods such as cookies), decorating gingerbread houses and birthday cakes or having as birthday treats, or for a multitude of other occasions that are guaranteed to arise.
- Include candy in school lunches or after school snacks.
- Sharing candy amongst friends and family as well as donating what’s left to nonprofits
- Always bear in mind allergies and other safety precautions – use labeling where necessary and be cautious who your share and accept food with/from.
6. Have Fun!
Remember that no matter what happens this Fall/Halloween season, take time for yourself and your friends/family. Do the best you can with what you have and take time to relax and enjoy the little things.
Hopefully this blog post has brought back some fond memories from when you were younger, or as I shared some of my favourite aspects of this season, you too felt the joy that Fall brings as you’re sipping your hot coffee or cup of cider this very moment. Be it decorating your house inside and out, or finding new ways to create and source fun costumes to wear for yourself or your littles, I hope this guide has given you some inspiration to tackle this normally highly consumptive holiday in a whole new light, without the frightful waste and overindulgence, all while being conscious of your budget. Stay safe, have fun this fall season and of course, Happy (eco-friendly) Halloween!
“What did the pumpkin say to the pumpkin carver? – Cut it out.”
“What happens when a ghost gets lost in the fog? – He is mist.”
“What do you call wood when it’s scared? – Petrified.”
“What do you call a pretty pumpkin? – Gourd-geous!”
During the fall season we get many requests for landscape design services and consultations. Of course, any time of the year is the right time to get to know your property and create the landscape you’ve always wanted. However, the fall season can be the best time to get out in the crisp air, explore your landscape and start planning for the spring!
Our services (among many other things) include winter protection, landscape design services or collecting baseline data, monitoring changes as a result of storm and winter effects and creating data trends for your property.
If you have been thinking about booking a consultation with Helping Nature Heal, rest assured that it’s not too late! In fact, fall and winter are ideal seasons for a site visit.
During this time, we have a unique opportunity to create essential baseline data for your landscaping project. The cooler months provide a clearer view of your property’s existing conditions, helping us better understand its ecological dynamics. We can assess factors such as soil composition, drainage patterns, presence of native flora and fauna, percent land cover, shoreline location and land contours.
Moreover, fall and winter are the perfect seasons to initiate monitoring efforts. By starting now, we can establish a baseline for tracking changes in your landscape’s ecological health throughout the year. This data will guide our sustainable landscaping recommendations and ensure that your outdoor space thrives in harmony with the natural environment.
Click on the photo above to learn more!
To book a consultation today, click here for our booking form or call the Helping Nature Heal office at (902) 543-7416!
Eco-Landscape Design Course
Our popular 6-week Ecological Landscape Design Course is for anyone interested in ecological landscape design whether for a particular site or in general, who also is interested in sustainable-low maintenance, organic, restorative , natural and/or food producing landscapes. No previous experience necessary! We have limited spaces available for our upcoming 2024 winter course, so contact us and sign up today!
Wednesday (1-4 PM), January 3th – February 7th 2024
Wednesday (1-4 PM), March 13th – April 17th 2024
- Pre-recorded course: $195+tax
- 6 week live sessions (with optional homework): $295+tax
- Live session + site visit (Lunenburg+Queens county): $395+tax
Interested? Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org | 902.543.7416