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Junk Hunters

paper handmade Halloween decorations

As we continue to navigate the challenges of climate change, it has become increasingly important to adopt sustainable practices in all aspects of our lives. This includes reducing waste, particularly during holidays like Halloween where excess and indulgence are often the norm. However, with a little creativity, it is possible to create unique and environmentally friendly Halloween decorations and costumes using items that would otherwise end up in the rubbish. By repurposing waste materials, we can reduce our carbon footprint while still enjoying the season’s festive spirit.

Materials for Repurposing

Cardboard can be transformed into props, signs, and costumes with a little creativity and some painting. Fabric scraps can become accessories like scarves, hats, and belts, or be used to create patches for clothing. Paper can be moulded into masks, hats, and other accessories, or used to create papier-mâché objects. Plastic bottles can be turned into props like wands, staffs, or weapons after being cleaned and cut into shape. Newspaper can be used to create papier-mâché objects like masks, hats, or entire costumes, making it an excellent way to recycle old papers. Foam sheets are perfect for crafting lightweight props like swords, shields, or wings. Yarn can be used to create accessories like scarves, hats, and gloves, or to create macrame designs or crocheted items.

Wooden dowels can serve as wands, staffs, or weapons, and can also provide structure for costumes or displays. Bubble wrap adds interesting textures and patterns to costumes or props when painted, adorned with sequins, or left in its natural state for a futuristic appearance. Finally, recycled materials offer countless opportunities for creativity – old CDs can become shiny accents on a costume, while plastic containers can form helmets or armour. With these materials, the possibilities for creative and eco-conscious Halloween decorating are virtually limitless.

DIY Display Ideas

Upcycled Halloween Monster Decorations

  1. Bottle Lights: Save empty plastic bottles and clean them thoroughly. Then, fill them with water and add a few drops of food colouring to create an eerie glow. Place LED tea lights inside the bottles for an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional candles.
  2. Cardboard Tombstones: Upcycle old cardboard boxes into tombstones for your front lawn. Simply cut out rectangular shapes, paint them grey or black, and add some creepy lettering using paint or markers. You can also add some fake moss or lichen for an aged appearance.
  3. PVC Pipe Skeletons: Transform PVC pipes into skeletons by painting them white and adding joints made from foam balls or paper cups. Hang them from trees or place them in your windows to create a haunting scene.
  4. Old Sheet Ghosts: Turn old sheets into ghostly figures by draping them over wire coat hangers or cardboard frames. Paint on some eyes and mouths using black fabric paint, and hang them from branches or porches to create a spooky ambience.
  5. Tire Spider Webs: Use old tires to create giant spider webs across your yard. Paint the tires black and attach them to wooden stakes or fence posts. Weave artificial spider webs between the tires using fishing lines or cotton cobwebs.

Upcycled Costume Ideas

  1. Cardboard Box Robot: All you need is a few cardboard boxes, scissors, glue, paint, and some imagination. Cut out holes for your head and arms, then decorate your robot with paint or markers. Add some circuit graphics, tape on some battery-operated lights, and you’ve got a techno-trendy costume.
  2. Plastic Bottle Witch: Collect plastic bottles of different sizes and shapes, clean them up, and use a hot glue gun to attach them. You can create a witch’s hat, skirt, or even a full-body sculpture. Add some black fabric, ribbons, and other embellishments to complete the look.
  3. Newspaper Mummy: Wrap yourself in layers of newspaper, securing each layer with masking tape. Paint on some hieroglyphics or other Egyptian symbols, add a cardboard sarcophagus, and you’re good to go.
  4. Fabric Scraps Fairy: Gather colourful fabric scraps, felt, or old clothes and use a hot glue gun to attach them to a tutu base or a simple dress. Create wings by cutting out flower shapes from fabric or cardboard and attaching them to a wire frame. Accessorise with a wand made from a dowel rod and more fabric scraps.
  5. Straw Hat Wizard: Cut the top off a plastic straw hat and decorate it with paint, markers, or stickers. Add a pointed tip to the hat using a paper cone or cardboard. Use a dowel rod to create a staff, then wrap it with yarn or twine. Attach a cloak made from an old sheet or blanket, and you have a wise and witty wizard costume.

Accessorising with Rubbish

  1. Rubbish Bag Fog Effects: Cut holes in the bottom of a rubbish bag and stretch it over a frame made from wire or cardboard. Use a fan to blow air through the bag to create a spooky fog effect. You can also add a few drops of blue or purple food colouring to the water inside the bag to give the fog an eerie colour.
  2. Newspaper Cobwebs: Use layers of newspaper to create realistic-looking cobwebs. Simply crumple up pieces of newspaper and attach them to a wire or cardboard frame. You can also use different sizes of newspaper to create varying thicknesses of webs.
  3. Plastic Bottle Rats: Cut plastic bottles in half and use them to create rat bodies. Add felt or construction paper ears, whiskers, and tails to complete the look. You can also use markers or paint to draw on fur textures and features.
  4. Recycled Paper Mache Skulls: Use recycled paper to create papier-mâché skulls. Mix flour, water, and torn strips of paper to create a pulp, then apply it to a balloon or bowl to shape into a skull. Once dry, paint them in different colours and add details like crossbones or spiders.
  5. Fabric Scraps Garlands: Use leftover fabric scraps to create garlands. Cut out shapes like bats, ghosts, or pumpkins and string them together with twine or ribbon.
  6. Egg Carton Spiders: Cut egg cartons into individual eggs and paint them black. Add pipe cleaners or yarn for legs and hang them from the ceiling or walls. For an extra scary touch, add some faux eyes or fangs to make these spiders stand out.

Community Involvement

family with handmade costumes and decorations

Encourage friends, family, and neighbours to join in on the fun of collecting and crafting materials for Halloween costumes and decorations. By involving others in the process, you can share ideas, resources, and skills, making the experience even more enjoyable and productive.

Donate finished projects to local charities or schools for their own Halloween events. This is a wonderful way to give back to the community and spread the joy of Halloween. Consider reaching out to a local children’s hospital or nursing home to see if they would like any donations, or contact a nearby school to ask if they could use any decorations or costumes for their annual Halloween party. Not only will this bring happiness to those who receive the donations, but it will also foster a sense of goodwill and community involvement among those who participate in the project. 

Repurposing materials for Halloween displays and costumes offers numerous benefits, from reducing waste and conserving resources to fostering creativity and community engagement. By thinking outside the box and getting crafty with everyday items, individuals can create unique and memorable Halloween experiences while minimising their environmental impact.

So, get started on planning your next Halloween celebrations! Whether it’s transforming old cardboard boxes into ghostly figures or turning plastic bottles into eerie lanterns, the possibilities are endless. Challenge yourself to dream up the most creative, environmentally-conscious Halloween displays and costumes yet. Together, we can make a positive impact on our planet while still enjoying the spooky fun and excitement of the season.