Anna Shinoda

Halloween Decorations: Personal, Not Plastic

It’s autumn – at least my calendar tells me it is.  This week, the temperature has been in the eighties.  But last week’s chillier weather gave me hope that we are on our way to Southern California’s slight fall season change.  Very subtle.  Nights will get a little cooler followed by cooler days, just enough to tell the leaves it is time to change colors and drift down.  Time for the trees to prepare for their winter rest.  And it is time for my Halloween decorations to come out.

I love decorations, but there is a mountain of crappy, poorly painted plastic that will spend a year or two “decorating” someone’s house or front yard, then end up in a landfill.  Don’t get me wrong.  Plastic is so much a part of my everyday world I couldn’t imagine life completely with out it, yet it’s one of the biggest evils when it comes to trash.  There are only two types of plastic currently on the market that are biodegradable –  all the other ones basically deteriorate through photodegradation: a process where sunlight breaks it down into smaller and smaller pieces until it is teeny tiny.  But it never really goes away.  Plastic that ends up in a landfill may never see sunlight as it is buried under other trash.  The plastic that does get hit by UV rays are mostly in rivers and lakes and oceans.  Those tiny little pieces end up in the stomachs of animals or washed up on our shores or floating out in the middle of the ocean creating a spinning vortex of toxic trash.

In our household, we try to limit the amount of plastic that we are using.  This includes what we use to decorate our home for the holidays.  Some of my favorite Halloween decorations are the ones that we made out of stuff that otherwise would have ended up as trash.  Here they are…

Around Halloween one year, Mike had purchased a keyboard packaged with long sheets of styrofoam.  Rather than throwing them out we decided to repurpose them as a row of gravestones.  All it took was a jigsaw to round out the edges plus a little spray-paint and some black acrylic paint.  These can’t be left out in the weather, but they decorate our yard on Halloween night and spend the rest of October haunting the inside of our home.

This sign we made out of scrap pieces of wood and hand painted.

Quite a few years ago, we took old sheets that were headed for the trash and repurposed them.  We cut them to the size of our front windows and my husband drew on them.  Now awesome pirate skeletons peek out of our house every October.  Dyed pieces of cheesecloth add to the tattered pirate ship look.  Bonus: they look even more spooky each year as they get worn from the elements.  The dyed cheesecloth also can be hung inside to look like dilapidated curtains.  Put white sheets over all the furniture.  Instantly the living room takes on an abandoned feel.

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11 thoughts on “Halloween Decorations: Personal, Not Plastic

  1. thegluelpfan on said:

    You really inspire me with how you always find ways to make something environmentally friendly…you and Mike are really creative I have to say.I bet your house looked awesome !


  2. I never would have guessed this was from trash! They look legit!
    “U.R. Doomed.” lol.
    Really cool. Inspiring, even.


  3. What an interesting way to decorate for Halloween! I like the idea of using stuff like this instead of throwing it away. It’s also a site for trick-or-treaters, and they be amazed.


  4. I’m using the things we dug out from our late “spring cleaning” :DD Also, it lets me use up all these dark hoards of grey, brown and black paint I know I won’t be using for a long time. Thanks for sharing Anna!


  5. evooba on said:

    Wow!! I am impressed…well I didn’t expect anything less from Mike when it comes to painting etc but these decorations are so cool and what makes them stand out so much is that they’re homemade! Great work guys, I bet your home is the coolest one when it comes to Halloween decoration. Unfortunately Halloween isn’t celebrated here in Greece (bummer I know) but gladly a few friends of mine and I do celebrate on our own by dressing up and watching horror movies and consuming tons of chocolate. Coolest thing is that we get to carve pumpkins my aunt grows in her garden, it’s pretty nice 🙂
    As for the weather, I hope it starts cooling down soon, it’s still around 30-33C here.
    Enjoy your Halloween guys!!


  6. It’s really awesome to read how easy it is to take up an ecologically sensitive life style. The problem is that we all just see trash as trash instead of a resource that could be reused. I’ve always tried to be aware of the environment, thinking about ways to safe power, recycling my trash etc., but I’ve just really started to realize how much “wasting resources” is part of our mindset. Everything is so easily available in stores here, so that we don’t really appreciate what we already have. This goes so far that we aren’t even aware of what we are using and throwing away every day.
    Your blog posts are really helpful, because you give us examples from every day life instead of abstract slogans. Thanks for that!
    Also, your Halloween decoration looks great. Of course it’s way easier to recycle and redesign trash when you have an artist in the family.

    By the way, since you are an author and fan of Neil Gaiman, do you also write horror stories for your friends on Halloween? My friend has seen his blog post from some years ago, where he started this Halloween tradition of sending ghost stories to your friends on Halloween, and she made me a book with all those great stories and some even written by her. It was great!


  7. YoMarquesLP on said:

    Another amazing blog post. Loving all the decorations, they look amazing! We don’t celebrate Halloween here that much, it’s not a huge tradition, but it would be nice if we started doing something different. Thanks for showing us that we can have a bunch of fun and still help the environment at the same time, you and your family are a great inspiration 🙂


  8. You two are the most inspiring couple i’v ever seen in my life!and it means to me a lot i’m so happy about it and! god bless you all!BTW nice halloween! booooo


  9. Pingback: Halloween Decorations: Personal, Not Plastic | 10Ch_iie

  10. tensh_iie on said:

    After reading this I wish we would celebrate Halloween way more here in Germany! Bummer 😦

    But I love the idea of how you think about how you can use your decorations best, even make them yourself – which is always fun and you automatically spend some time with your loved ones, plus safe money and don’t support this insane plastic use that’s going on. Two birds with one stone. Amazing!

    Over here people rarely decorate their houses like that. Sure there’s a carved pumpkin here and there and the kids dress up and go “tick and treating”, but that’s a rare case :/

    Thank you for another inspiring and amazing blog-post. Keep up the amazing work! I hope people take such things by heart and learn from people like you and Mike – I certainly do! Thank you!


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