Zero Waste Fall Decor

Zero Waste Fall Decor
Zero waste fall decor is simple, elegant and oh so pretty. I find the simpler the decor, the better honestly. You don’t need a big storage bin for zero waste fall decor: Most of it is going to be compostable, I assure you. Bringing the outdoors in is basically what seasonal zero waste decorating is all about. During this time of year, the leaves are changing into their beautiful vibrant colors and new produce like apples, pears, grapes, squash and pumpkins are popping up at the market. You want to highlight that! Capitalize on how stunning the natural world is and you can’t go wrong. The decorations I’m about to share with you won’t just do that – they won’t be destined for a landfill either (in fact, a good majority of them are edible).  

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Zero Waste Fall Decor

Zero Waste Fall Decor

Want your house to look like fall just paid a visit? Here’s several zero waste fall decor ideas to inspire you. I can’t wait to see what you decide to create with these ideas in mind. Feel free to tag me in anything on Instagram (@greenifyme) – I’d love to share it with my audience too!

Zero Waste Fall Decor

Pumpkins, squash + gourds

Probably my favorite option, you can’t go wrong decorating with pumpkins, squash and gourds! These festive fall produce items really create such a welcoming atmosphere. You can get these at your local farmers market, or at a local farm/pumpkin patch.

What I love most about pumpkins and squash is that they’re decorative and edible. After leaving them on the windowsill to admire for a while, you can cook them and get even more festive by incorporating seasonal food into your meals.

Never cooked with squash or pumpkin before? I recommend trying some yummy soups. Here are my favorites:

Lets not forget, you can also carve a Jack ‘o Lantern using pumpkins, if it’s around Halloween. Save the seeds and roast them to make homemade pumpkin seeds! I put a little salt, pepper and olive oil on mine. You can add whatever spices or toppings you like to yours.
You can compost the pumpkins and squash when you’re done with them. If you remove the insides for Jack o’ Lantern carving, you can compost that as well.
Whatever you eat can be replenished for decor with another trip to the farmers market, come Saturday!
Gourds on the other hand, are simply decorative, but they tend to last a while. I get a few of them from my farmers market every year. I also really love grabbing some tiny pumpkins at the market. One vendor in particular sells both of them sporadically come fall and I happily scoop up the chance to buy them.
Zero Waste Fall Decor

Leaves, twigs + branches

Leaves this time of year look so damn beautiful. Truly, they’re stunning. I could stare at them all day long. Perhaps one of the best therapies is literally walking under them on a crisp, sunny fall day.

Bringing a bit of that ephemeral beauty indoors is such a nice idea. I really love collecting vibrant leaves that have already fallen on the ground and bringing them home. It’s fun to salvage the best ones and admire their amazing colors up close.

Each leaf is so vastly unique and different! My favorite are the bright red ones, but they’re honestly all stunning.

So go out there and pick up some pretty fallen leaves. When you get home, simply give them a light wash and remove any dirt (or bugs) you find. Wipe them down gently, making sure not to break them.

You’ll want to preserve or press your leaves to prolong their life. Otherwise they’ll dry up pretty quickly. You can always grab more, but the ones you pick up are unique and deserve to be cherished and kept for a while!

My favorite preservation method is pressing leaves and then dipping them into melted beeswax. It’s rather simple: I place the leaves flat down, sandwiching them between two pieces of newspaper. Then I stack heavy books on top – making sure to put one book underneath for support.

I let it press for one to two days – if you strictly want to press your leaves, leave it for about 5 or 6 days. Otherwise, take them out after 1 or 2 days, and melt some beeswax in a double boiler. Carefully, I dip them into the beeswax, then let the leaves hang dry, making sure it doesn’t drip anywhere. They dry rather quick!

After the leaves are dry and coated lightly in beeswax, they’re ready to use however I see fit. I personally really love tying some string or twine to them and hanging them from a branch. I hang the branch on the wall and ta-da! Instant fall decor (scroll down a bit to see what I’m talking about).

You can also just scatter the preserved leaves on your windowsill, desk or table as they are.

If you wish to decorate with twigs and branches (with some leaves still on them), consider grabbing a pretty vase and setting them up in there. It may be a smart option to add 1/2 teaspoonful of glycerin and some water to the vase (stirring first before adding the branches) to help keep them preserved. Let them soak in the mixture for about a week before taking them out and putting them in a jar without any water or glycerin.

I also have some faux leaves – I saved them from being thrown out! My uncle was going to toss them away but I insisted I’d take them. Reusing a little plastic bag I also saved from going to waste, I store them year round until fall rolls around. Then I scatter them on my windowsill with the farmers market pumpkins, squash and gourds!

It looks really cute and festive and I saved something from landfill. Of course, it doesn’t match the beauty of real leaves though.

How to make a hanging leaf display:

Zero Waste Fall Decor

If you want to make a display like the one above, it’s super simple. Just follow my instructions for pressing and preserving the leaves using beeswax that I shared above. Find a twig or small branch outside you like. Tie some twine or string to both ends of the stick, then tie them together, forming a triangle shape. This will be the part you hang your decoration from. Next, tie more string/twine to the twig/branch so that it dangles down, as pictured. At the end of those lines, tie the stems of your leaves. Tada! You can now hang your creation wherever you like. I suggest an area with a white background, so it pops more.

zero waste fall decor


Candles are a great option for decorating in the fall! But I don’t recommend buying anything from Yankee Candle – their candles are made with artificial fragrances and release unhealthy fumes into the air.

Instead, consider getting some all natural beeswax candles. You can get beeswax taper candles and find some beautiful vintage metal candle holders at thrift stores. Arrange them so they’re next to some gourds, pumpkins and squash – they’ll look so beautiful, especially when you light the candle at night. There’s also beeswax tealight candles or pillar candles to consider.

Zero Waste Fall Decor

Apples, pears + grapes

Getting seasonal fall produce straight from the market this time of year is a great idea. Not only will your food taste better, but it’ll also make for pretty decor too!

If you recall seeing pictures of cornucopias, they were always bursting with seasonal foods like pears, apples and grapes. So why not put these lovely produce items up for display?

You can use an actual wicker basket (which in and of itself makes beautiful decor), or a pretty glass bowl. If you actually have a wicker basket shaped like a cornucopia, even better!

Arranging fall produce as the centerpiece of your table is not only a pretty decor option, but makes for fun and easy snacking too!

zero waste fall decor

Foraged flowers, grasses, acorns, pinecones and berries

There are so many beautiful foraging finds this time of year. Items like acorns, berries, flowers and grasses make for exquisite fall decor. Just make sure you know what you’re foraging before taking it (so you know it’s safe to touch and bring in).

There are so many acorns and pinecones on the floor at this time of year, so it’s not hard to find and identify those. They make lovely additions to windowsills or tabletops. If you gather enough, you can create a little bowlful for decor as well.

Late blooming flowers, such as asters, goldenrod, Montauk daisies and bonesets, can be brought home and put in a vase. If you’re feeling really creative, you can even make these flowers into a wild wreath. Incorporate some wild grasses into the mix and you have yourself a stunning piece.

You can also forage some wild berries for decor, such as pokeberry, northern bayberry, bittersweet, etc. Just be mindful that you shouldn’t eat these berries and to keep them out of reach from children. Only forage for these if you consider yourself an experienced forager.

My biggest tip when it comes to foraging? Don’t over-harvest! It’s one thing if the species is invasive (then, go to town), but it’s another if it’s a native species (like goldenrod, bonesets, northern bayberry, etc.). Please be mindful to only take just enough.

Zero Waste Fall Decor

What zero waste fall decor do you like best? Will you try some of these suggestions?

For more zero waste holiday tips, be sure to check out my guide to having a zero waste Thanksgiving and a zero waste Black Friday!

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By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.

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