halloweencandies.jpg If the thought of heaping amounts of discarded, but still useful, items winding up in landfills scares you as much as the ghosts, ghouls and goblins that are the cornerstone characters of Halloween, it might be a good idea to consider an upcycling-themed festive party this year. With an eco-friendly mindset and a little creativity, you can plan a fun gathering that will wow and dazzle friends, family and anyone else paying a visit. Planning an upcycled Halloween party not only is kind to the planet, it’s likely probably kind to your wallet as well. No doubt, you will save money by repurposing old items that have sat and gathered dust.

What is upcycling?

The concept of recycling, of course, is well known (even if it isn’t followed as closely as it should). Upcycling, however, is catching on with the mass population. At times, the two words are used interchangeably, but it is important to note they are not one in the same – far from it, actually. The folks at Intercon provide a good explanation of the upcycling movement, which has gained steam in more recent years. In simplest terms, upcycling means using an item without altering its quality or composition for its next use. There’s good reason to consider upcycling: “When plastic bottles are recycled, for instance, most often they cannot be turned back into containers associated with anything that can be ingested, due to the risk of things seeping into the plastic,” the Intercon authors write. “As a result, these usually become carpets, or toys, or winter fleeces.” Make no mistake about it: Recycling is a green, eco-friendly practice. Upcycling, however, is viewed as an even better alternative under the lens of reviewing the waste stream and the lifecycle of a particular item.

The ways you can upcycle this Halloween are limitless

Halloween parties are all about the costumes and the decorations, and upcycling can be immensely helpful in this regard. As you plan your Halloween party, consider the following ideas, all falling under the “upcycling” category: 1. Small cardboard boxes make great creepy, crawly critters. Quick: When you think of Halloween, what images come to mind? No doubt, one of the first to jump out are spiders. Becky Striepe at Dollar Store Mom offers a fun, crafty decoration idea that brings new life to those pesky small boxes that frequently come with small-item purchases (in Striepe’s case, she had unneeded boxes from ginseng capsules). In addition to the cardboard boxes, the spider decorations require some or all of the following supplies: black acrylic or poster paint, black pipe cleaners, black yarn or ribbon, craft glue, “googly” eyes, markers, paintbrush, paper, red craft paper and scissors. 2. Sip your wine, then turn the bottle into a decoration. Stretching quite a bit of creative muscle, blogger Lombardo Lagniappe came up with a really cool upcycling idea that entails repurposing old wine bottles. On her blog, Lagniappe chronicles how she brought new life to the bottles, simply by removing the labels and using a few simple supplies, including different types of glitter, paint and papier-mâché. “This project is actually really quick, and I think (the decorations) turned out super cute,” Lagniappe wrote in her blog post. 3. All done with that pasta sauce? Turn it into a mummified candleholder. The authors of Crafting a Green World have come up with a fun idea that is ideal for pasta sauce jars or other glass containers considered “wide mouthed.” The supply list in this transformation process is astonishingly simple. Beyond the glass jar, you need the following: black construction paper or facial feature cutouts, gauze tape or cheese cloth, glue, water and wheat flour or all-purpose flour. The process can be topped off with beeswax candles or solar lamps to illuminate your crafty creation. 4. That old aspirin bottle can take on a new life of its own. With a little paint and glue – and a whole lot of creativity – those old plastic aspirin bottles can be repurposed into cool, creepy and catchy decorations, such as a relic appearing bottle for snake oil. Magia Mia gives the lowdown on this transformative idea in a blog post. 5. Turn old newspaper into a witch’s hat. When it comes to costumes for children young and old, one of the most tried and true ideas is a witch’s hat. A number of materials can be used to create that pointy fashion accessory, including … newspaper! We might be in the Internet age, and the amount of newsprint hitting our doorsteps might be dwindling, but even if you don’t subscribe to a print publication, you probably receive some form of newsprint. Rather than toss it in the recycling bin, consider upcycling it for a different purpose. Crafting a Green World lays out how this upcycling activity can be used for a fun craft with such supplies as masking tape and paint. 6. Give your clothes a new lease on life. I guess you can file this under: “first world problems.” Inevitably, we all wind up with old, unwanted clothing. The still-in-good-condition articles, of course, can be donated to a homeless shelter or some other type of worthwhile organization. But if you find yourself with old clothing that is no longer useful, it might be worth turning it into a costume, rather than tossing said article in the trash. One idea that instantly popped into my mind on this subject was a scarecrow. By its very design, a scarecrow costume looks great – and effective – with a collection of old, tattered clothes. Studio DIY has an innovative idea: a strawberry. Assuming you have an old red dress on hand and are willing to alter its appearance, this is a fun idea. The supplies (beyond the dress, of course) include computer paper, green poster board or cardstock, hot glue gun, ribbon, scissors and a small cup. The above six ideas are just a small sampling of how Halloween can be a wonderful time to upcycle. With a little creativity and an eco-friendly attitude, the possibilities truly are endless!