You wouldn't think so, but Halloween has the potential to be one of the greenest holidays of the year. Just about everything to do with the night's festivities can be reused, borrowed, traded, purchased used, or made from scratch. Now is the best time to start mixing eco-friendly practices into your family's holiday traditions, but it's important to remember that going green doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing affair. What's more, drastic green changes aren't always the most sustainable. So start with a few simple variations that will work for your family this year. You can always incorporate more next Halloween.
PLANET FRIENDLY HALLOWEEN COSTUME OPTIONS
- If you've already got an idea in mind, try visiting a few of your local thrift stores to see if you can piece a costume together yourself.
- If you want to duplicate a celebrity or TV character, look through the clothing you already own to see if you can make anything work.
- Visit a costume rental shop instead of buying a disposable one.
- Make your own costume from old sheets and/or clothes.
- Visit Green Halloween's website to learn about their nationwide costume exchange program and to see if there's a location near you.
- Get a group of friends together to borrow or trade costumes with each other.
- Store-bought face paint and makeup may contain phthalates, cadmium, lead, and other toxins so look for natural or organic alternatives online.
- Dress all in green, paint your face, and tell people you're ‘eco-friendly.'
LESS HARMFUL TREATS
- You don't have to go out and buy a new treat bag for your kids every year. They can be made from anything: purses, sturdy sand pails, backpacks, pillowcases, lunchboxes, etc. You could even decorate a basket to match your child's costume and then reuse it the following year. Or best of all, let them use your reusable shopping bags.
- The average trick-or-treater takes home 10 pounds of candy! If you buy less to begin with, you'll spend less money and there will be less overall waste, since most of that candy will get thrown out anyway.
- Buy organic chocolates, cereal bars, lollipops, or cookies to provide the neighborhood children with healthier choices and reduce your own carbon footprint at the same time.
- If healthier choices are too drastic for this year's Halloween, look for organic candy online and pass it out to trick-or-treaters instead.
- Have your kids save the wrappers from their trick-or-treating candy, then look online to find out how to make them into things like bracelets and picture frames.
- Create less pollution by walking from house to house instead of driving.
- Make handmade decorations from recycled or recyclable materials, or buy decorations you plan to use for many Halloweens to come (just like Christmas ornaments).
- Use the fiberfill or cotton from an old throw pillow or quilt in place of store-bought cobwebs.
- Make a scarecrow using a pumpkin for the head and some old clothes for the body.
- Replace your porch light with a CFL bulb, or give solar powered lights a try.
- Use rechargeable batteries in any battery-operated decorations.
GREEN YOUR PARTY
- Send an e-vite or make the invitations out of recycled paper.
- Avoid purchasing disposable napkins, plates, cups, tablecloths, or cutlery.
- Make your party food with organic ingredients.
- Lower the temperature in your house before guests arrive, as the extra bodies will create warmth; saving energy and money.
- Encourage guests to walk, ride their bike, or use public transportation for your Halloween party. Or organize a carpool for guests to reduce their traffic and air pollution.
DON'T FORGET TO COMPOST
- Add your Jack O'Lanterns, fallen leaves, and leftover party food and candy to your backyard compost.