Home Patchwork Kids Make Halloween zero-waste and plastic-free

Make Halloween zero-waste and plastic-free

by Ismay Ozga
Three pumpkins on a table. Two are carved for Halloween, one with a ghost face and one with menacing eyes. The third pumpkin is very small.

Love it or hate it – it’s that time of year again and if you have kids, they are going to want to be part of the festivities. And yes, you CAN have fun at Halloween while still being mindful of the impact on the environment.

As Chris Rose of Fairyland Trust, a family nature charity says “the scariest thing about halloween now is plastic“. If you try to be zero waste and plastic free the rest of the year – why make halloween any different? Patchwork is all about being collective, resourceful and creative so read on for how to tackle trick or treat season like a true green warrior…

Preloved and homemade costumes over new.

Small boy in preloved Halloween cat costume

There are so many perfectly good Halloween costumes floating about out there (like Archie’s cat that we found on eBay). It does seem crazy to spend money and consume precious resources for an outfit that might only be worn once before being outgrown.

Each year after Halloween approximately 7 million costumes are thrown away – the equivalent to 83 million plastic bottles. A super-scary statistic. Many costumes are made of plastic in the form of polyester, so not the most eco-friendly fabric either. Ask friends and family to do swaps or have a rummage in your local charity shop. You can also search on eBay or your local FaceBook groups for a pre-loved bargain that you can then pass on again to the next trick or treater!

Or customise an old pair of old black leggings or a black or orange t-shirt. Cut slashes in the fabric for a scary effect and pair with some orange accessories and a bit of ghoulish make up for a truly terrifying look. And there’s always the good old cut-out-eye-holes-in-an-old-piece-of-sheet à la E.T. in 1982. See it’s not a new thing!

Go green with your decorations this Halloween.

Cut out paper circles orange black and white - plastic free Halloween decorations
Black Happy Halloween sign on an orange and yellow background - plastic free Halloween decorations

Ordinary glass tealights can be customised for Halloween with some orange ribbon tied around or some paper bats stuck to the outside. If you’re using outdoor fairy lights or lanterns try to get solar powered if you can.

All you need for a spooky hanging garland is card, scissors and a little bit of artistic talent! Use string or ribbon to attach dangling paper spiders, witches and skeletons and hang in the doorway or at a window. Even little ones can get involved with some splodgy glue and a mixture of fabric, tissue and card. If it’s black and orange – it counts!

Check out more eco Halloween ideas on Pinterest. And of course the best way to be green this Halloween is just to reuse all those decorations you’ve already got! The plastic trick or treat buckets and other scary props can be used over and over again and kids usually love rediscovering their old treasures if they’ve been packed away in the loft for a year! If you’re lucky, this makes for an hours peace and quiet for you while they go through the box of spooky delights. 

Sweets and treats that are not so scary for the planet.

Homemade Halloween biscuits on a baking sheet
Halloween clementines decorated to look like mini pumpkins
Four kids outside a front door dressed in winter clothes and hats holding Halloween props

It’s not going to be Halloween without an overdose of sugar in some form, but if you start planning early you can avoid damaging the environment along with their teeth!

So, let’s start with the easiest (and healthiest) idea. Buy a box of clementines (or get them loose if you can), and then simply draw little faces on them for instant mini-pumpkins. They look adorable, cost very little and have no wrapping. It takes two minutes for a whole batch and it gets some vitamin C inside them ahead of the winter cold season. Win, win, WIN!

Second best, and with a whole lot more sugar, buy loose sweets in paper bags from a high street sweet shop such as Mr Simms. You can ask them to package up 5 or 6 sweets in a small bag, and then tape up or fold over and decorate for a gorgeous little trick or treat surprise.

Making a batch of cupcakes or biscuits and decorating with some orange icing and googly eyes is also an easy one. Or if you don’t have time and do buy shop bought, try to opt for chocolates wrapped in foil rather than plastic. Collect your treats in a paper bag decorated with a Halloween theme, or (for the super hopeful kids!) use a pillowcase. Otherwise just keeping reusing that plastic bucket – it’ll last forever.

Save us some pumpkin!

Two slices of pumpkin pie on a wooden chopping board
Halloween Recipe for Pumpkin Pie

It seems everyone knows how to carve beautiful designs in to their pumpkin but not many know what to do with all that gorgeous orange flesh!

Terrifyingly, the UK will bin 8 MILLION pumpkins after Halloween. The equivalent of enough pumpkin pie to feed the entire nation, research by Hubbub has found. So, in support of the #PumpkinResuce campaign we have a secret family recipe to pass on to you. It’s called Red Nanny’s Pumpkin Pie (our founder Liv’s mum has been making it for over 40 years as you can see by the state of the recipe). It’s delicious, comforting and aromatic as all autumnal recipes should be and it’s the colour of fallen leaves. If, like us, you have trouble deciphering the above – we’ve printed the instructions nice and clearly at the bottom of this post 🙂 

A black cat peering over the top of a wall showing only green eyes and pointy ears

If you’d like to host your own Halloween party, get friends to help by customising a Patchwork party templates and adding your own spooky images and text! Get someone to provide the scary tunes, another to make some terrifying cakes, and someone to help decorate! Get more tips on waste free party planning, and read our take on why old is the new new.

Red Nanny’s Pumpkin Pie recipe:


8oz self-raising flour

4oz margarine

a little water

(or buy a sheet of readymade shortcrust party)


1lb stewed pumpkin (mashed)

3oz sugar

1tsp cinnamon

1.5 tsp ginger

1.5 tsp nutmeg

2 eggs

10oz milk

a knob of butter

Add the sugar and spices to the pumpkin, add eggs, milk and butter.

Pour mixture on to pastry base and put in oven at 180 degrees for 40 minutes until set. Eat when cool. See more yummy pumpkin recipes.

You may also like

Pin It on Pinterest