Coastal Lifestyle

East Coast Mermaid’s Tips for a Spooky, Sustainable Halloween

Halloween is easily one of my favourite times of the year, but the older I get the more I value keeping Halloween as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. Because the only thing spookier than ghosts lurking in the dark is the amount of plastic waste in our landfills and our oceans.

Yeah, it’s a real mood killer.

Last year was our first Halloween in our new home and I was so excited to decorate for trick-or-treaters. But my very sustainably-minded husband challenged me to get creative and to do so by reusing and repurposing as much as possible.

Lucky for me, I had my own Halloween bin in the basement from my apartment days to get me started—but because I love a good challenge, I agreed to his terms. I also challenged myself to spend less than $100 on new Halloween decor each year to add to the collection and to choose pieces that will last. For example, this year I bought new lighting for outdoors that I know we’ll continue to use for the next 10-15 years.

Halloween candle holder and skull in some fall foliage.

Despite this challenge and a much bigger space to decorate compared to our apartment years, we still had one of the spookiest houses on the block last year. This year, I’m anticipating it’s going to be even better!

So how I’d do it? Well, mermaid magic for one. And my 5 easy tips for sustainable Halloween decor.

Raid Your Parents’ Basement

This one might be easier for some, but chances are that if you’re super into decorating for Halloween, it may be because you grew up in a home that was decked out for the holiday. That was our home. Every year, my mom, dad, and I would put up the coolest decor and, I have to give them credit, I totally picked up some of the tips in this post from them along the way.

Vintage trunk in your basement? Fantastic coffin for one night. That leftover styrofoam insulation? You can cut that into a tombstone. The truth is, we didn’t have Spirit of Halloween in the 80s and the 90s, so we DIY’d a lot of decor even back then. But for the items we bought at places like Zellers and Sears—have I dated myself yet?—we held on to that stuff.

Front yard decorated with fake body parts for Halloween

So if your parents aren’t still decking their house out now that you’re a grown adult with your own home, raid their basement. Offer to take their old Halloween items off their hands. If it’s just gathering dust in the garage or basement, you’re doing them a favour and you’re scoring some awesome vintage Halloween decor!

Get Creative With Regular Household Items

This is where I want you to get creative. What every day household items or things in your yard or basement could be transformed into spooky props or decor?

For example, in our backyard, we have a very heavy, cement bench that came with the house. It rests on two identical concrete holders that just so happen to look EXACTLY like tombstones. So last year, I removed the top bench, and moved the two holders to the front yard to position them as graves.

Porch decorated for halloween with pumpkins, skulls and ghosts

Want to create an eerie deck scene? Take random items from your garage like stools, summer outdoor tables, benches and scatter on your deck. Find an old painting sheet and drape over these items to create a staggered look. From there you can put things like pumpkins, skulls, fake body parts, and more!

Yard Sales, Thrifting, and Trash Week

This year, I scored my BEST recycled Halloween decor yet. Our city has an annual big trash clean-up week and I just so happened to be out for a spooky evening walk with hubby when my eyes caught three perfect, homemade, wooden gravestones. Including one that pays homage to Moncton’s best known haunt—Rebecca’s Grave.

Reused halloween decorations including 3 tombstones

If you live somewhere with a big cleanup, don’t feel weird to check out what others are putting to the curb. Likewise, keep your eyes peeled at garage sales or thrift stores all year long for creepy items you can use for Halloween.

I rarely buy new clothing for my annual costume and never buy pre-packaged costumes, but instead rely on thrift stores or consignment shops. There’s just something so satisfying about the hunt!

Get Social, Ask a Friend

Your parents aren’t the only ones who might have old Halloween items they’re looking to get rid of. Your friends might have some things in their basement too! My friends know I’m absolutely nuts about Halloween, so last year my best friend hooked me up with a bunch of store bought gravestones they weren’t using.

Halloween gravestones nestled into a hosta

Don’t hesitate to put some feelers out on Facebook or Instagram, to let people know you’re looking for old Halloween decor or specific items. Same goes for putting your costume together. If you have a specific prop or clothing item you’re on the hunt for, share a picture on social media and see if someone who follows you might be able to hook you up or lend you theirs for the night!

Don’t Be a Ghoul: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

Last, but not least, don’t be a ghoul! Reuse, reduce, and recyle every year.

Store bought spider webs? These things will last FOREVER. Honestly, I doubt they compost and that is a scary thought. So instead of throwing them out each year after you pull them from your decor, bag them up and reuse them again next year.

Our caution tape? We saved it after we had our driveway paved last summer, because we knew it would make a great addition to our Halloween decor.

Halloween ghosts made of old sheets tied in a tree.

Want to make some cute ghosts to hang from our porch or trees? Cut up some old white sheets, stuff their heads, and use recycled string or elastics to fasten!

And your pumpkins? Instead of tossing them in the garbage, put them in your backyard for the birds and critters, or deliver them to local farms or zoos for the animals.

Halloween Pumpkin sitting on a pile of leaves with a fake spider on top and fake webbing in the background

That’s it, my ghoulish friends! Halloween doesn’t have to be a wasteful holiday! Just get creative, watch some scary movies for inspiration and have fun with what you’ve got!

Oh, and I LOVE seeing your decorated houses, so please blow up my DM’s on Instagram with your spooky decor!

And keep an eye out—if you think this is “done decorating” for me, you haven’t seen anything yet! I’ll be sharing just how spooky our home gets on All Hallows’ Eve.

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