7 DIY Ideas for a Plastic-Free Halloween

One of the scariest things about Halloween is all of the plastic waste it generates. From plastic decorations to plastic masks to plastic candy wrappers to synthetic costumes… the environmental impact of Halloween is truly frightening.

This year we challenge you to use real stuff and make real stuff because we know it is possible to enjoy the spooky season without all of the terrifying plastic waste.

Check out these plastic-free DIY ideas and SHARE your ideas with us by tagging @plasticpollutes on Instagram.

1. DIY Fabric Pumpkin from Fat Quarter Shop

We absolutely love this DIY Fabric Pumpkin from Fat Quarter Shop! It is such a wholesome, festive decoration that works well for both Halloween and for Fall in general. Check out the tutorial here.

2. Scary Edibles, You’re Gourdeous Veggie Dip Tray, The Zombie Mummy Sausage Roll Family, Spiderberries, & Halloween Edibles from @foodbites:

When it comes to adorable and seasonal food inspiration, @foodbites is one of our absolute favorites. We enjoyed so many of their Halloween ideas we couldn’t pick just one.

Scary Edibles

*cucumber and cantaloupe skulls

*blueberry centipedes

*watermelon abominable snowman

*watermelon skeletons

*watermelon voodoo dolls

*watermelon ghosts

*white chocolate & pretzel mummies

*cantaloupe & chocolate Book on 2020

*white chocolate & pretzel spiderwebs

You’re Gourdeous Veggie Dip Tray

The Zombie Mummy Sausage Roll Family


Halloween Edibles

*Strawberry Ghosts

*Cheddar and Pretzel Brooms

*Pretzel Vampires

*Mini Pepper Frankensteins

3. Skull String Art from @abeautifulmess

This stunning skull string art idea is one of the most popular DIY Halloween decorations sisters @elsielarson and @emmaredvelvet have ever made. We can’t say that we’re too surprised–are you?

4. Felt Ghosty Yarn Garland from @lunabeehive

Christen Glenn, the crafty gal behind @lunabeehive, creates absolute WONDERS with felt. And while most of her work is way out of our league, we are confident that we might actually be able to replicate this adorable DIY Halloween garland.

5. Book Page Pumpkin from @creationsbykara

Though most of Kara’s creations are culinary, it turns out she also has some tricks up her sleeve when it comes to crafting DIY Halloween decor. Check out her step-by-step tutorial for how to make this adorable Book Page Pumpkin.

6. DIY Ghost Windsock from Chicken Scratch NY

We love to see how creative people get with materials they find around the house. This DIY Ghost Winsock from Chicken Scratch NY is such a fun way to upcycle a tin can.

7. Paper mâché pumpkin piñatas

Trick-or-treating might not be possible this year, but you can still have fun with your family by making your own paper mâché piñatas using strips of newspaper and a paste made of flour, water, and salt. Here is a tutorial. Decorate the outside to make it look like a pumpkin, fill with treats, and hang with a fabric ribbon. These pumpkin piñatas are fully compostable once the tissue paper decorations are removed. Happy Halloween!

Join our global Coalition.

Brighton, England-based artist Louise McCurdy has been making artworks about plastic pollution for 13 years. You might recognize her iconic rusty shopping trolley full of beach plastic photographed by Alex Bamford, or her supermarket installations, entirely stocked with found plastic called “Dirty Beach.”

It is one of her latest projects with Alex Bamford, however, that has weaved its way across Instagram and into the collective zeitgeist. “Plastic Toy Stories” shows the bright and plastic colorful toys that are found every day on beaches across the world. From “free” toys given out by McDonalds or found in cereal boxes to army men, dinosaurs, tiny cameras, and dolls—the toys continually wash up and seem infinite in number.

Though colorful, many of the toys are vintage. A plastic boat was found in the Arctic circle in 2017—it was a free toy from a cereal packet in 1958.

“Whether they came from a river, fell overboard, were dropped on a beach, or lost from a shipping container, these toys have stories to tell,” says McCurdy. “Plastic toys are endless time travelers since they can last forever and reveal the ocean’s secrets.”

On Instagram, Plastic Toy Stories invites us to imagine where the toys have been and write funny or poignant captions. “I lost my feet along the Great Barrier Reef!” reads one caption on a post of a Barbie doll on the shore. “I am plastic pollution brought to you by Mattel!” reads another.

The project has resonated with many, including Albertus Gorman, an artist who collects discarded plastic along the Ohio river in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Cool toys were a special part of my childhood,” writes Gorman. “My Dutch grandfather worked at a toy import business in Amsterdam. However, being a part of an American military family, few toys survived the back and forth deployments that come with that life as well as having a brother and two sisters! I have great toy nostalgia from growing up. I still have a recurring dream about losing a favorite stuffed toy that circles around Amsterdam in a train forever until I guess I find him again? I weirdly empathize with the lost toys I find at the river… Toys when found intact still illicit childhood wonder. But not lost on me is our cunning use of this material to fabricate a need in children. Perhaps ironically mortgaging their environmental futures while subconsciously manipulating them and their parents to want and buy so many more toys. Toys are fascinating objects and loaded with meaning.”

This so-called “Mudlarking” involves people combing rivers for treasures—like an archaeological dig of the “plastic age.” In fact, at least 90 percent of toys are plastic and every plastic toy ever bought still exists in one form or other.  Plastic does not biodegrade but instead photodegrades into microplastics over time.

“This project has shown that there are beach cleaners, beachcombers, and mudlarkers across the world who are dedicated, inspired, and motivated; people really care about where they live,” says McCurdy, who sees the project as a springboard for schools and educational groups to utilize. Indeed, the project has already become a global library on social media.

“We want everyone to be involved,” says McCurdy. “I want each of us to ask ‘What is the message these plastic toys have for us?’ in order to protect the environment.”

Visit Plastic Toy Stories.

Learn more about the work of Louise McCurdy.

Take action to stop plastic pollution.