By Randy Mendez
Outreach Educator

Halloween is one of my most favourite holidays of the year. When else can you act out your inner rock star or super hero, and get ‘treats’ for the recognition of all the hard work you put into your costume?

While Halloween has always been a much more American holiday, it is really gaining traction here in Australia and I’m glad that Aussies are really embracing this fun holiday. More and more people are dressing up, having Halloween-themed parties, going around the neighbourhood and trick-or-treating. The past few years we have seen a rise in people coming to our door and yelling, ‘trick or treat’! And it’s always so great to see the enthusiasm and sheer joy in the trick-or-treaters.

Halloween is a fun holiday. However, it can be a very wasteful day. So much prepping for just 1 day! We go out searching for the best costume, trying to find the best masks and/or props, buying loads of party supplies – all, which at the end of the day, head straight into the rubbish bin. Add to that the wrappers from all the lollies gluttonously consumed on the day, and you have an entire bin of Halloween rubbish.

This year, make your Halloween a sustainable celebration. There are so many great ideas and projects that you can do with your students to encourage their creativity, all while promoting sustainability.


The costume is the most essential when celebrating Halloween. And the best costumes are usually the ones that are made.

  • Op Shops – Encourage your students to go op shopping for their costumes. Op Shops have some amazing finds, and at great prices too! Not only that, the money goes to really great causes – you can look good and feel good for shopping at op shops.
  • Hit the closet – most of us have clothes in the back of ou r closets we haven’t used in ages. Go through old clothes and see what magic can be created. And once you’ve finished your costume, donate the clothes you didn’t use to your nearest op shop. You’ve created a costume as well as done a ‘spring clean’ in your closet!
  • Costume Swap – many students hold onto last year’s costumes. Have a costume swap day at your school. Encourage your students to bring in old costumes and swap with other students. After Halloween, perhaps your school can have a costume box, which can be used for the following year or throughout the year at school events. Every school should have an energy superhero costume!


Encourage yours students to make their own masks and props. What better way to let a student’s individuality and creativity shine than by having them create their own props. This is also a great way to get the arts department at your school involved in sustainability.

  • Schools, and households, always have unused items lying around. Have a collection day at your school and use these items to create costume props. A sword made from old toilet paper rolls will slay the competition.
  • Masks can be made using already read newspaper, which would normally be put in the recycle bin. Reuse them instead to create one-of-a-kind masks, paper mache style.
  • Trick-or-treat bags/buckets should be made, never bought. Some items which can be used to create trick-or-treat bags: old cloth shopping bags, cereal boxes, milk jugs, old pillow cases, to name a few. Get creative with the bags/buckets, as they should be part of the costume. Imagine an astronaut coming to your door with a spaceship as a trick-or-treat bag.

Face paint

Many great costumes require great facial artistry. Instead of buying expensive, and chemical-laden face paint, make your own. Incorporate into your science curriculum making face paint. There are so many great, and simple, methods for making toxic-free face paint. Many methods require toxic-free food dye. However, you can make the food dye using foods commonly found at home, or from spices in the pantry. This would be much more fun for your students and can make them feel like scientists.

Celebrating Halloween sustainably doesn’t have to be tricky. There are so many fun and simple things we can all do to ensure this popular holiday doesn’t turn into another wasteful celebration event – and by not sending more rubbish to landfills, that is the real treat!

Superhero / Villain Costume

Helen (Ursula)
Dress – from an op shop
Legs – leggings stuffed with newspapers
Wig – from previous costumes
Makeup – store-bought

Randy (Two-Face)
Suit – from an op shop
Colourful part of suit – from a fabric store and was stapled onto suit, so that the suit can be returned to the op shop for resale
Mask – store bought
Cane – old broom stick with the jewel from a costume prop

Kiss Costume

Shirt, pants and shoes – her own
Wig – from previous costume
Silver part of costume – car sunshade

Shirt – own
Pants – Helen’s pants
Belt – from op shop
Wig – from previous costume
Wings – old aprons
Leg silver part of costume – car sunshade

Food Costumes

Helen (Pumpkin):
Store-bought costume which she has used several times, and has lent it to friends

Randy (Corn-on-the-cob):
Kernels – unused balloons from a baby shower party
Husk – mesh netting
Husk ties – leftover flower twine

By CERES Education – Outreach Team|2017-11-06T18:28:07+10:00September 24th, 2015|0 Comments