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Tips for a Terrific, Not Trashy, Halloween 
smiling jackolantern

As Halloween quickly approaches, many Knoxville residents are spending their money on spooky decorations, sweets, and Halloween costumes.

And we're not alone: the National Retail Federation’s annual survey predicts Americans will spend $8 billion on Halloween this year, which is $92.12 per person!

While kids and adults alike delight in the fright, all those giant spiders, plastic tombstones, candy wrappers, and witches hats eventually create a great deal of waste. 

The City’s Waste and Resource Management office is here to help you reduce your spending and waste this Halloween season with these tips and tricks—no treats required.

Spooky Decorations Don’t Need to be New

Avoid big-box stores that churn out new Halloween decorations every year. Instead, get creative. 

1. Make Halloween decorations out of your recyclables. This is called upcycling. Pinterest has an endless number of great Halloween craft ideas. Some of our favorite DIY projects are Mummy Candy Cans and Upcycled Book Pumpkins

2. Revamp old Halloween decorations or objects lying around the house. Do you have an old doll in the attic that no one ever plays with? Add a bit of red paint and a few fake scars to make that doll truly creepy.

3. Go thrift shopping for Halloween decorations. Goodwill, KARM, and other Knoxville thrift stores always have Halloween and fall decorations on display this time of year.

4. If you use pumpkins as decorations, don’t trash them! Every year, more than 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in American landfills after Halloween. Instead of throwing them away, use uncarved pumpkins to make pumpkin pie and bake the pumpkin seeds. A carved jack-o-lantern can be composted. Read our blog post on the benefits of composting.

Treat—or Trash? Avoid Poorly Packaged Candy

Most Halloween candy is individually wrapped in single-use plastic. Unfortunately, these candy wrappers are not recyclable in your curbside cart or at any of the Recycling Drop-Off Centers. So what should you do?

1. Buy candy that is packaged in easily recycled material like paper or cardboard. For example, Nerds and Milk Duds are great choices! 

2. If you have a favorite candy that doesn’t have an easily recycled wrapper, look into buying one of TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box for candy and snack wrappers. You could even split one of TerraCycle’s boxes with your neighbors or extended family.


fast fashion
Fast Fashion. University of Queensland.


Fast Fashion is Scarier Than Any Monster


According to the EPA, clothing is the main source of textiles in landfills. This Halloween, many Americans will order their costumes online and throw them out once the holiday is over. Instead of buying a new costume, you could:

1. Costume swap with your friends and family! Many people have a few old costumes in their closets from previous Halloweens that they will never wear again.

2. Create a new Halloween costume with things you already have in your closet. You could even DIY a new costume with recyclables. We’re big fans of this Keurig Cup Octopus

Make sure to donate any old costumes you no longer want instead of sending them to the landfill, and don’t forget to carry a reusable bag to trick or treat! 


The City of Knoxville’s Waste and Resource Management Office hopes that these tips and tricks will help keep your Halloween waste from getting too sinister! 

Please email wramericorps@knoxvilletn.gov with any questions regarding this blog post.



Posted by ptravis On 23 October, 2020 at 12:34 PM