Published on September 13th, 2016
by Becky Striepe
Halloween can be a pretty wasteful holiday. These Halloween recycling tips are all about what you can recycle, what you can’t, and some ideas to reuse non-recyclable Halloween leftovers.
From your costume to treats to decorations, Halloween has a lot of stuff that goes with it. Some of that stuff is recyclable, and some isn’t. Knowing what’s what can be a little bit tricky. I dove into some of the stuff we collect around Halloween to see what we can and can’t recycle.
It might feel early to talk about Halloween recycling tips, but this is actually the perfect time to start thinking about post-holiday waste. When you know what is and isn’t reusable or recyclable from the jump, you can plan your costume, treats, and festivities accordingly.
Costumes and Makeup
Making your own costume from recycled finds is definitely the lowest-waste way to go. There are tons of recycled costume ideas out there, and we have a few fun ones to get you going.
If your costume is in good shape after Halloween, you can donate it. You could also save your costume for next year and host a costume swap with your friends next Halloween. Free costumes for everyone! If your costume got stained or is in tatters after the holiday, cut it up and add it to your rag pile. Or reuse it next year as the zombie version of whatever it was this year.
Paper and plastic masks are not recyclable, but some municipal composting services will accept paper masks. Just remove the elastic band before you toss it into your city or county compost bin. It might seem odd that you can’t recycle paper masks, but once you’ve worn them all night, they’re considered “soiled” paper, just like a pizza box. The oils from your face are the problem.
When it comes to makeup, you might think you’re out of luck, but you actually can recycle a lot of makeup containers. Check what number plastic they’re made from (it should be stamped on the bottom). If your city’s recycling program accepts that number, clean out the container and recycle away! Postconsumers has some tips on how to recycle and reuse old makeup containers, if you need more help here.
Bad news, guys: candy wrappers are not recyclable. They’re a hybrid material made from paper and plastic, which makes them kind of a nightmare at the recycling center. There’s a pretty solid chance you’ll end up with candy wrappers, though, even if you don’t give out candy yourself. Try these ideas for reusing those leftover wrappers.
Some treats do come in recyclable containers. Unlike candy wrappers, food packaged in paperboard – like raisins or juice – are recyclable. If you want to give out treats in recyclable containers, keep an eye out for paperboard-packaged options.
Of course, you can also make your own Halloween treats to hand out, but know that some parents won’t let their kids take homemade treats from strangers.
If you really want to reduce your Halloween waste, make your own decorations that you’ll use year after year. Things like fabric bunting and table runners and even spooky cutouts made from old cardboard boxes stand up well to years of use, if you store them securely. Check out these Halloween crafts for some great ideas to get you going.
Once the holiday is over, the easiest Halloween decoration to recycle is your Jack-o-lantern. As long as you didn’t paint on it, you can toss Jack right into the compost pile when Halloween is over. If it hasn’t started to mold, you can even cook with your Jack-o-lantern!
Store-bought Halloween decorations, like plastic bunting, paper spiders, and spooky table centerpieces are sometimes recyclable. If they’re all paper and didn’t get grease on them, you can recycle them. Plastic is a little bit trickier. Your best bet is to check the packaging. Since these decorations can use so many combinations of materials, it’s hard to make a blanket statement about what is and isn’t recyclable. Like with makeup containers, you just need to find out what number plastic they are and see if your city takes that number.
Are there any Halloween recycling tips I missed here? Drop a comment and let us know what you’re trying to recycle or reuse this Halloween – I’ll do my best to find an answer for you.
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About the Author
Becky Striepe My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.