Eye on the Environment: Halloween is different this year, and its waste can be managed

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By David Goldstein

Halloween is back. It’s just a little different this year. 

After skipping a year of trick-or-treating, many kids are eager to collect candy, but this year, kids aren’t the only ones who will be wearing masks. 

Halloween activities have also returned, nearly all located outdoors. On Saturday, October 30, the Ojai Valley Inn is offering a 20-minute “drive-into spook-tacular” experience. The event will feature a Transylvanian castle with live performances throughout your drive, as well as interactive booths with raffles. Admission costs $20, but half of the event proceeds will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and participants will receive “goodie bags.” Face coverings must be worn.

Major events near Ojai include a “terror trail” at the Ventura County “Fear” Grounds and the Santa Paula Rotary’s Pumpkin Patch at Limoneira Ranch, including a five-acre corn maze. 

The Helping Hands Committee of the Ojai Valley Inn is also hosting a socially distant costume contest. You can enter by submitting photos of your Halloween costume to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. between Friday, October 29 and Monday November 1. Winners will be announced and contacted Tuesday November 2, with prizes for the spookiest, funniest, most creative, and best family costume.

Whether trick-or-treating, attending an event, or entering a costume contest, consider reducing waste this Halloween. The most ubiquitous waste of the holiday, candy wrappers, can be recycled only through extreme measures, such as reuse for crafts, or mailing with other items in a “Zero Waste Box” to Terracycle, with a $113 payment (

It is easier to manage two other wastes of the holiday, costumes and pumpkins.


Cheap, plastic, disposable costumes may look adequate in pictures online or printed on costume packaging, but take a closer look. Does the costume just look good because it is on an impossibly gorgeous model or a super cute kid? Usually, disposable costumes look like what they are… cheap imported junk destined for a landfill on November 1. 

Instead, consider a durable, reusable costume to look better and wear again in another year or pass on to someone else. Shop at a thrift store, such as the Goodwill store, at 770 N. Ventura Ave, in Oak View. The Council Against Household Violence thrift store in downtown Ventura had three full racks of costumes on display against their front window last weekend.

Marie Provenzano, a lifestyle expert who specializes in do-it-yourself decorations, recently appeared on a television talk show describing clever Halloween costume ideas. Her most simple projects involve “upcycling” old face masks.

A black mask can be turned into a cat mask with just six white pipe cleaners, a piece of pink felt, scissors, and a glue gun. Cut the pipe cleaners into whiskers and glue them, three to a side, jutting out from the lower part of the mask, then cut a pink triangle nose from the felt, and glue it at the intersection of the pipe cleaners. 

A black headband with black pipe cleaners bent into two triangle-shaped earns and twisted around to attach to the headband can supplement the look.


Pumpkins, including seeds, may be recycled in your curbside yard waste cart. Compost facility operators raise compost pile temperatures over 130 degrees for several days, preventing seeds from sprouting in finished compost. Composters reach these temperatures regularly anyway to kill weed seeds. Pumpkins, like fruit from landscape trees, are an exception to the general rule against food in yard waste carts in Ventura County. 

Even better than putting your pumpkin in your yard waste cart is to compost it yourself in your own compost pile or worm box, saving the seeds for replanting next year. However, put pumpkins in your garbage cart if you have attached self-adhesive plastic rhinestones, glue-gunned beads, studs, rivets or other unnatural decorations. No one wants Halloween pumpkin bling contaminating the compost of their spring flower beds.

David Goldstein, an Environmental Resource Analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be reached at (805) 658-4312 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


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