Looking for the best zero waste Halloween decorations to have a spook-tacular celebration with a sustainable twist?

I’ve rounded up a list of the easiest eco-friendly Halloween decorations of 2023. Let’s see which one of the many plastic-free Halloween ideas you’ll like the most!

Best Zero Waste, Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Halloween Decorations

As the bewitching season approaches, it’s the perfect time to conjure up some eco-friendly magic for your non-plastic decor. Personally, I want my sustainable Halloween decorations to not only haunt in style but also leave a minimal environmental footprint. Even though it may not be possible to completely get rid of all plastic, I want to do what I can to at least reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our environment…

That’s what low-waste/zero-waste Halloween decor is all about. It’s a creative cauldron where we can brew up frightful fun while being mindful of our impact on Mother Earth. 

If you, too, want to find the most creative DIY tricks that are as kind to the planet as they are eerie to the eye, grab your scissors. Here are 15 amazing plastic-free Halloween decorations ready to be re-created!

Eco-Friendly Halloween Decoration Ideas That Are Zero Waste

Here are some of my favorite eco-friendly Halloween decorations for a plastic-free celebration. 

Pumpkin Lanterns from Recycled Paper

Materials:

  • Old newspapers, magazines, or whatever paper you have around the house
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • String lights (optional)

Steps: 

  1. Begin by gathering old newspapers or magazines that you no longer need. You can also use orange construction paper if you have any. This will serve as the primary material for your pumpkin lanterns.
  2. Carefully cut the newspapers or magazines into strips. The length of the strips can vary depending on how big you want your pumpkin lanterns to be. The width should usually be between 2 and 3 inches.
  3. Roll the strips into tight tubes. These tubes will form the round base for your lantern.
  4. Cut a small circle of paper for the base. (Again, the size will depend on how large you want your pumpkin to be.)
  5. Take each strip of paper and glue one end to the circle. (It will look like a sunshine, with all of the strips fanning out from the circle.)
  6. Cut four shorter strips of paper and glue them around the circle on top of the larger strips. (These tabs will be on the inside of your lantern and will hold it down so that your lantern is actually a sphere instead of a narrow tube!)
  7. Make little folds on the ends of the strips that are not attached to the circle (just about 1/2 to 1 cm.)
  8. Cut a larger circle for the top of the lantern, and cut the center out.
  9. Bring the folded ends of the strips up and glue them to the top circle. Before closing it up all the way, bring the inner tabs up and attach those to the top circle to make your pumpkin shape. Then finish closing your lantern by attaching the last couple of outer strips.
  10. See the video above for a quick demonstration. She uses a fancy cutting machine, but you totally don’t have to! You can either cut out your own designs or just use regular paper!

Fall Leaf Garland

This is an easy one!

Materials:

  • Fallen leaves
  • Twine or floral wire

Steps:

  1. Venture outdoors and gather an assortment of leaves, choosing a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.
  2. After collecting the leaves, press them to flatten and dry them. (This step is important for ensuring the leaves maintain their shape and color during the crafting process.)
  3. Once the leaves are sufficiently dry, carefully poke a small hole near the stem of each leaf.
  4. Thread the twine through the holes, delicately weaving the leaves onto the string. As you do this, you’re not only creating a charming leaf garland but also celebrating the natural beauty of autumn with your sustainable fall decorations.

Fabric Scrap Ghosts

Materials:

  • White fabric scraps or old white sheets (Or any fabric really… You can see in the video above she uses fabric with prints on it!)
  • String or twine
  • Hot glue gun
  • Black marker

Steps:

  1. Begin by sourcing fabric scraps or repurposing old sheets that are no longer in use.
  2. Cut the fabric into circle or square pieces, making efficient use of the available material.
  3. Place a small object, such as a cotton ball, in the center of each piece of fabric, twist the fabric to cover the object, and then tie it closed with string. This will serve as the “head” of your fabric ghost.
  4. Channel your artistic flair by drawing eyes and a mouth on the fabric, bringing your ghosts to life. Alternatively, you can cut out eyes and mouths using a different color of fabric and glue them on.
  5. Cut another piece of string (of whatever length you want) and glue it to the top of the ghost.
  6. After the glue dries, hang your ghost wherever you want around your home!

These fabric scrap ghosts not only make adorable decorations but also exemplify the creative reuse of materials in a sustainable Halloween setup!


Mason Jar Candle Holders

Materials:

  • Clean empty mason jars
  • Fall leaves
  • Glue
  • Twine or ribbon (optional)
  • Tea light candles (preferably paraffin-free ones!)

Steps:

  1. Start by collecting clean and empty mason jars, ensuring they are free from any residual substances. Reusing these jars promotes sustainability by giving them a second life and reducing waste. 
  2. Gather fall leaves from your backyard or a local park.
  3. Carefully glue the leaves onto the outside of the jar in whatever design you like. To make the leaves last longer on the jar, paint the glue over the leaves using a brush (as demonstrated in the video above) instead of applying the glue to the back of the leaves.
  4. If you want, tie a piece of twine or ribbon around the top of the jar for an extra touch.
  5. Insert a tea light candle in the center of the jar. The candlelight, combined with the rustic charm of the leaves, creates a cozy and inviting Halloween ambiance, perfect for any gathering or event.

Reusable Trick-or-Treat Bags

You can put as much or as little effort as you want into this one!

Materials:

  • Old fabric or cloth
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread

Steps:

  1. Begin by selecting old fabric or cloth that you can repurpose into reusable trick-or-treat bags. Look for fabrics in Halloween-themed colors or patterns.
  2. Carefully cut out two identical rectangles of fabric, ensuring they are large enough to hold a decent amount of treats. 
  3. Sew three sides of the rectangles together to form a bag, leaving the top open for easy access to the treats.
  4. To create a neat finish, fold down the top edge of the bag and sew a seam along the folded edge.
  5. Attach a handle using additional strips of fabric. This step ensures the bag is easy to carry and durable for multiple uses, promoting sustainability and reducing the need for single-use plastic bags during Halloween festivities.

Recycled Paper Bats

Here is a super easy (and cheap!) zero-waste Halloween decoration idea that you can use all around your house.

Materials:

  • Old cardboard or paper
  • Black paint or marker
  • Scissors

Steps: 

  1. Begin by sourcing old cardboard or paper materials that you can repurpose for creating bat decorations.  
  2. Draw bat shapes on the cardboard or paper using a pencil. You can find templates online or create your own designs. 
  3. Carefully cut out the bat shapes using scissors. Take your time to ensure the edges are smooth and well-defined. 
  4. Unless you’re using black paper, paint the bat shapes black or use a black marker to color them.
  5. Attach the paper bats to walls, windows, or ceilings using reusable adhesive or string. Rearrange them as needed, folding their wings slightly to give them a 3D look.

Felted Wool Pumpkins

Materials:

  • Old sweaters
  • Sewing needle and thread
  • Stuffing material (cotton, old fabric scraps)
  • Small sticks
  • Hot glue gun

Steps:

  1. Begin by gathering old sweaters (or other wool fabric) that you no longer wear or need. (You can also get some from the thrift shop if you don’t have any old ones you like.) Upcycling these materials reduces textile waste and embraces a sustainable approach.
  2. Cut a section of the arm out of the sweater. (You may want to cut smaller or larger sections out depending on how large you want your pumpkin to be.)
  3. Bunch up one of the ends of the section and tie it together with a piece of string.
  4. Take whatever material you’re using for your stuffing and put it into the section of the sweater arm.
  5. Close the top either by tying it with another piece of string or by sewing it closed with a needle and thread. (You can then tuck the top seam in to create a cleaner look.)
  6. To create your pumpkin’s ridges, first take a long piece of string and thread your needle. Put the needle through the top of the pumpkin and thread it all the way through to the bottom. Keep threading it from the top to bottom several times, tying a knot at the bottom each time to keep your ridges tight. (See the video tutorial above for a demonstration of this.)
  7. Take a stick and cut it to make it a good size for the pumpkin’s “stem.” Then attach it to the top of the pumpkin using a hot glue gun.
  8. You either stop there or add additional details to the top, including leaves, twine, or twigs.

The resulting felted wool pumpkins are charming, reusable decorations that can be displayed year after year, contributing to a sustainable Halloween tradition!


Corn Husk Wreath

Materials:

  • Dried corn husks
  • Straw wreath base (you can either make one yourself using straw and string, or buy a pre-made one)
  • Hot glue gun

Steps: 

  1. Begin by collecting dried corn husks, which can often be found at grocery stores or markets. (Of course, you could also just use your own after you make some corn on the cob!)
  2. Soak the corn husks in water to make them pliable and easy to work with. This step prepares them for shaping and adhering to the wreath base.
  3. Carefully wrap the soaked corn husks around the straw wreath base, securing them in place with a hot glue gun. (Alternatively, can use string instead, if you want to.) The straw wreath base offers a sturdy structure for the husks to adhere to, creating a wreath that can be displayed for seasons to come.
  4. Continue layering the corn husks until the entire wreath is covered, achieving a full and visually appealing design.
  5. If you want to, you can add more details, like ribbon or fall berries. There are honestly so many different looks you can create with this one!
  6. Allow the wreath to dry completely, and then hang it on your door to welcome Halloween visitors with a festive and eco-friendly touch.

Sustainable Terrarium Haunted Houses

These terrariums offer a unique and imaginative way to celebrate the season while promoting reuse and eco-consciousness. And there are so many different ways you could make them!

Materials:

  • Clear glass jars
  • Soil
  • Small plants or moss
  • Small Halloween-themed figurines (optional)

Steps: 

  1. Start by repurposing clear glass jars or containers. Utilizing glass containers ensures visibility and allows for a creative display of miniature haunted scenes. 
  2. Fill the glass container with soil, providing a suitable foundation for your mini Halloween landscape. Reusing soil or using composted soil aligns with an eco-friendly approach.
  3. Place small plants or moss inside the container, arranging them to create a mini haunted landscape. Incorporate Halloween-themed figurines, such as ghosts, witches, or tombstones, to add a spooky touch to the terrarium. If you want, you could make your own figurines out of paper, cardboard, or even clay or Play-Doh.
  4. Display the sustainable terrarium haunted houses as tabletop decorations or centerpieces during Halloween gatherings.

Ghostly Milk Jug Luminaries

Materials:

  • Empty, clean milk jugs
  • Black permanent marker
  • String lights or LED tea lights

Steps:

  1. Clean and dry empty milk jugs thoroughly. Recycling these jugs into ghostly luminaries gives them a second life before they head to the landfill or recycling center.
  2. Use a black permanent marker to draw ghost faces on the front of the milk jugs, creating a spooky effect. Let the kids draw whatever faces they want onto their jugs!
  3. Once the faces are drawn, place string lights or LED tea lights inside the milk jugs. (If they won’t fit inside the top of the carton, you can cut a hole in the bottom or side and put the light in that way.)

When lit, these luminaries will cast an eerie glow and create a haunting ambiance for Halloween.


Halloween-Themed Cloth Bunting

Materials:

  • Old fabric scraps or unused fabric
  • Scissors
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread, twine, or string

Steps:

  1. Collect old fabric scraps or unused fabric from previous projects.
  2. Cut the fabric into triangles or other Halloween-themed shapes (free pattern here!) to create a bunting effect. 
  3. Arrange the fabric shapes along a piece of twine or string, spacing them evenly and securing them in place with a needle and thread.
  4. Hang the Halloween-themed cloth bunting across your space for a festive and reusable decoration that can be used year after year.

Eco-Friendly Halloween Wreath with Pinecones and Twigs

Materials:

  • Pinecones
  • Twigs
  • Cardboard or wreath base
  • Jute twine or natural twine
  • Hot glue gun

Steps: 

  1. Collect pinecones and twigs from your backyard or park.
  2. Arrange the twigs in a circular shape to form the wreath base. Alternatively, you can use a cardboard cutout as the base.
  3. Secure the twigs in place using jute twine or natural twine, wrapping it around and tying knots to ensure a stable wreath structure.
  4. Use a hot glue gun to attach pinecones to the twig wreath, arranging them in whatever way you like best.
  5. Hang your sustainable Halloween wreath on your door or wall, showcasing a blend of nature and creativity for a sustainable and charming decoration.

Recycled Glass Bottle Candle Holders

Materials:

  • Clean glass bottles (various shapes and sizes)
  • Sand or small pebbles
  • Tall, taper beeswax candles
  • Paint (optional)

Steps: 

  1. Collect clean and dry glass bottles of various shapes and sizes to repurpose for an eco-friendly Halloween decoration.
  2. Place a small amount of sand or pebbles in the bottom of each glass bottle to provide stability for the candles. 
  3. Insert tall taper candles into the bottles, allowing them to stand upright securely.
  4. Optionally, you can paint the outside of the glass bottles in Halloween-themed colors or designs to enhance the visual appeal of the candle holders.
  5. Light the candles for a warm and atmospheric glow, creating an inviting and zero-waste Halloween ambiance.

Fabric Pumpkin Bowl Covers

Materials:

  • Fabric in pumpkin colors (orange, beige, etc.)
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Elastic cord

Steps:

  1. Choose fabric in pumpkin colors to reflect the Halloween theme. Upcycle old fabric or use scraps to contribute to a zero-waste approach.
  2. Cut the fabric into circles, ensuring the diameter is larger than the bowl you intend to cover.
  3. Sew around the edges of the fabric circle, leaving a small opening.
  4. Thread the elastic cord through the opening, adjusting it to fit around the bowl snugly.
  5. Pull the elastic to gather and close the fabric, effectively covering the bowl with a fabric pumpkin design. This reusable cover adds a festive touch to your Halloween table setting while reducing single-use plastic wrap.

Have fun crafting and incorporating these zero-waste Halloween decorations into your spooky festivities!


Are Halloween decorations bad for the environment?

Halloween decorations can indeed have environmental impacts, particularly if they are not sourced or disposed of responsibly. For starters, many Halloween decorations, especially cheap ones, are made from single-use plastic. Plastic production contributes to pollution, resource depletion, and ocean contamination.

Unlike my favorite sustainable Halloween decor, temporary decorations can create a significant amount of waste after the holiday. When improperly disposed of, these items can end up in landfills, where they may take years to break down and release harmful substances into the environment.

So, what can we do about it? Not all Halloween decorations have a negative impact on the environment. Many eco-conscious individuals and companies now offer sustainable, biodegradable, and reusable decorations made from natural materials or recycled materials.

Zero-waste Halloween decorations and upcycled Halloween decorations made from materials you already have at home can significantly reduce waste and contribute to a more sustainable holiday.

How do you decorate for Halloween sustainably?

Looking for more eco-friendly Halloween decorations? Use old items like clothing, sheets, or cardboard to create DIY decorations using the ideas outline above.

For instance, old fabric can become ghost costumes or cloth bunting. Or you can use natural elements like leaves, pumpkins, gourds, pinecones, and twigs for a rustic and zero-waste Halloween theme.

The possibilities are endless, and I’ve included a lot of ideas above to get your gears turning.

How do you have a plastic-free Halloween?

Having a plastic-free Halloween involves reducing or eliminating the use of single-use plastics in your decorations, costumes, treats, and overall celebration. You can use existing clothing and accessories to create unique costumes or host a costume swap with friends or neighbors.

You can create your decorations using recycled paper, fabric, or cardboard. You may consider giving out more practical treats like pencils or chapstick instead of candy. (I know, I know—it’s not as fun for the kids! But it’s an idea worth considering.)

Last, but not least, make sure to sort and dispose of waste responsibly. Recycle what can be recycled and compost organic waste. Remember, small changes collectively make a big difference!

Wrapping Up: Zero Waste, Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Halloween Decorations

There you have it—my list of the best zero-waste Halloween decorations! By infusing creativity into our celebrations while honoring our planet, we illuminate a path toward a greener, more conscious future.

But don’t stop with my suggestions… The non-plastic Halloween decor options are endless! Let your creativity fly and come up with some of your own ideas based on what materials you have around your home!

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About Konstantina

Konstantina Antoniadou is a sustainability writer with an ongoing curiosity to explore new innovative technologies and report on trends in “green” industries. With almost ten years of expertise in media and publishing and undying love for upbeat and energetic storytelling, Konstantina is at the forefront of the creatively charged fashion, beauty, and non-toxic home verticals. When she’s not crafting ethical shopping guides, she’s either trying to perfect her roller skate dance moves, thrifting, or binging series for the hundredth time.


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