Recycling Tips: How To Have a Plastic-Free Halloween, Waste-Free Holiday!

Recycling Tips: How To Have a Plastic-Free Halloween, Waste-Free Holiday!

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of recycling and waste-collection tips, written by Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question or idea for a recycling tip? Call 630-208-3841 or e-mail

As we head into holiday season, and the plastic ornaments start to sprout out of people lawns and porches, I am inspired to write a short missive on how we might reframe our ideas about holiday decorations.

Waste-Free And Fun Autumn, Winter Lawn Décor

I encourage you all to RETHINK your decorations!

Natural decorations are naturally more beautiful.

If you are really into it, you can start a neighborhood movement toward a PLASTIC-FREE Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas! Competitions to see who can be the greenest are a great way to inspire innovation.

Use natural (and/or reusable) items to decorate your home and feel good when you can compost them instead of landfilling them! Use organic materials like corn stalks and hay, pumpkins and flowers, hemp twine and wreaths of corn flowers and dried leaves.

And for Christmas make your own natural wreath!

Look online for inspiration, like these great ideas from Treehugger:

  • Make decorations and have fun with fully-biodegradable pumpkins.
  • Use natural and reusable twine to create spider webs between porch posts or trees.
  • Make your own scarecrows the old fashioned way.
  • Cut out black paper bats and hang them upside down on a clothesline.
  • Purchase candy in cardboard boxes.
  • Trick or treat with reusable cloth bags.

Compost Decorations Instead of Landfilling!

I had a question from a “Dedicated Recycler in Sugar Grove” recently who wondered, “Is it acceptable to put corn husks in yard waste bags? If so, what about corn cobs, cooked or uncooked, with no butter on the ears?”

This inspired me to think about the issue of seasonal waste.

Organic materials — including corn (stalks, husks and cobs), pumpkins, squashes, hay bales, real pine garlands, and Christmas trees — can all be composted.

(1) Most haulers will allow smaller items like the corn cobs, stalks, husks, and loose straw to be combined with your yard waste for collection at the curb.

I have confirmed this with Lakeshore Recycling Services, so if they are your hauler you are good to go.

If you have other haulers, you can call to confirm if you have a question about what you can include.

(2) Pumpkins and squashes can be taken to one of the local drop off events from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 7.

The Kane County Pumpkin Composting Event in Geneva will be unload-your-own this year.

There is also an event in St. Charles. Click the links above to see the detailed posters.

(3) Christmas trees are collected curbside after Christmas each year.

This Christmas Tree Recycling page will be updated in December with accurate dates for this year.

Send me your great ideas for how to have a plastic-free and waste-free holiday season for a chance to win an indoor recycling bin.

Read More Holiday-Themed Recycling Stories!