Planning a last-minute Halloween house party and need a lot of ideas with minimum environmental impact? We’ve got you covered with easy tips (and tricks) to keep your guests on their toes and your carbon footprint in check.
The Decor – the Devil is in the Details
To set the mood, you need to prep your guest before they come through the doors. Unfortunately, many Halloween decorations are made from cheap, non-recyclable plastics that clog up landfills. Opt out of store-bought plastic and Styrofoam props – they add to your environmental impact. The sustainable solution is DIY – it can be (almost) as much fun to create as the party!
Start with Signs and Silhouettes. What we think we see often frightens us more than reality. So create a ghoulish atmosphere with signs and shadow silhouettes! Any leftover flat pieces from your home renovation project can become scary signs – just add some paint! Letting the paint roll down the surface before it dries will create the desired creepiness.
Check your garage for cardboard boxes and look in the recycling bin for cereal packages. Use them to cut out bat, owl and crow silhouettes. Painted and pinned to the door/windows, they are a great alternative to store-bought options. For more effect cover the decorations in nylon stockings. Bonus: cardboard is recyclable! Recycling your home’s waste newsprint, cardboard, glass, and metal can reduce your carbon footprint by 850 lbs per year. Offset the rest for a carbon-balanced year!
Bring on the Brooms and Branches. Make a decorative broom at home rather than buying one. Store-bought products have a higher environmental impact because they had to be shipped to the store for purchase. For example, it takes up to 5 acres of forest grown for 1 year to balance the emissions created by one container of products from China to the USA.
Did you or your neighbor prune a tree lately? That is an opportunity for some sustainable Halloween decor! Tie the smaller twigs to a larger stem and you’ve got a broom. It may not work for cleaning, but it’s perfect as the “witch’s ride.”
For a spooky forest, stick dead branches into the ground and cover them with cob webs. Use solar-powered, rock-shaped lights to highlight your eerie yard.
Suspend the Spandex Spider Web. On Halloween, cobwebs make everything better… or, spookier. You could purchase fake stretchable cobweb material, but why spend money and use up precious environmental resources? For a DIY option, pull strings on a pair of your old white leggings until it resembles cobwebs. For a more sophisticated solution, you can construct a hot glue cobweb shooter. Find the instructions here. Note: please be careful as hot glue can burn your skin.
Go for Ghostmaking. Cheesecloths and starch are generally common household materials – perfect for Halloween ghost making. This see-through cloth ghost looks almost alive. See ghostmaking directions here. For less environmental impact, substitute the Styrofoam/foil ball with a child’s ball you may already have in the house. Place the ghost indoors.
The Cheesecloth Ghost may not be durable enough for the outdoors, but the Tomato Cage Ghost is! Remember your great summertime tomato garden? The tasty tomatoes are long gone, but you can still put the tomato support cages to good use. Follow the instructions here and, voilà, a light up ghost on your lawn! For minimal environmental impact, make sure to use renewable electricity sources or offset the carbon footprint of your electricity.
Loom with the Lights. Lighting can make or break the scary set-up you’ve just created. Halloween is a time of candles and plug-in outdoor lights. All those wire connectors and candle wax – it can get pretty messy and add to your carbon footprint! For a simple and safe environmental solution, consider solar electricity or solar-charged lights.
Solar Pumpkin: Carve a pumpkin with a large enough hole to fit a garden light with a solar charger on top. Find a sun-lit place outdoors and stick a solar garden light into the pumpkin, piercing the bottom, and pinning it to the ground. It will charge during the day and spookily glow in the night. No need for candles or batteries!
Tip: If you live in the south, local watermelons may be available to carve out scary lanterns with a red glow. Just hollow the inside and peel off the skin in places you want it to glow.
The Food – Eyeball it
Simple foods do the trick – focus on presentation! Exploit natural human fears. Simply print out of images of eyeballs and beetles and tape them to the bottom of see-through drinking glasses that your guest will use and watch their surprise! Avoid disposables by sticking with real dishes to reduce your waste. Landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the United States, so by reducing your waste you reduce your impact.
Some foods naturally lend themselves to Halloween! Color and/or sliminess are key. “Slime Brew” Thai Curry with fresh green veggies served in a witch’s cauldron will give you the chills. For a sweet “Witches’ Brew” serve root-beer floats from a cauldron.
Tip: It’s likely that your veggie homemade meals are more eco-friendly than fast food and local fruits have a smaller carbon footprint than chocolate. For example, a 49 g chocolate bar creates 169 g of CO2e. Meat has an even larger footprint of 1323 g for 49 g of beef. So, whether you are brewing for your guests or prepping to go to a potluck, consider organic vegetarian
treats to minimize your environmental impact.
The sight of blood makes our own run cold. Some “Blood” beet-based vegan soup or a portion of bloodied “glass” pieces, anyone? Make your own “glass” from thin caramel and use them on bakery with a drizzle of red jam. You can make spooky red punch with ghostly hands too. Just fill a pair of latex gloves with water, tie it and put in the freezer. Once frozen, take off the glove and add the ice hand to the punch – keeping the bowl cool and creepy!
Photo Booth. With you and your guests all dressed up, why not capture the moment with photo booth? Supply a picture frame for your guests to hold in the photo and cartoonish accessories such as glasses, a monocle, different mustaches, some hats, or a boa. Pure fun with minimal impact: digital technology helps us share the pictures without using paper.
Ring Toss. Set up your own version of the classic midway game with a cluster of glass bottles. You can use paint to add point numbers. Make a tossing ring by tying a branch in a circle or using a cheap wooden bracelet.
Candle-lit storytelling. It’s the perfect set up for a good prank. Hide a friend in the house to make eerie sounds and add a trick to make your candles go out one by one on their own. For this, cut the candles in two, remove a small piece of the wick from the middle and re-attach the candle back together. Watch your guests quiver as the flame reaches the wick gap and goes out!
Tip: Use local beeswax candles. They don’t release harmful chemicals when burnt. While this theory still requires more scientific testing, some claim beeswax candle fuel is the only fuel that actually produces negative ions, which help remove pollution from the air. Note: Be careful and keep the candles contained in safe holder and away from flammable objects.
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