Between costumes, candy holders, treat wrappers and plastic decorations, Halloween can quickly become a landfill’s worst nightmare. Multiply that by the number of kids you have and you have quite a bit of wasted junk on your conscience. Fortunately, just about anything you do can be done in a more ecologically responsible way, and it’s easy! Check out my tips to green your Halloween — and save some serious cash (paper green!) in the process.
GreenHalloween.org has started National Costume Swap Day, which is October 13, 2012. Their great idea is that your kids trade costumes with friends instead of buying new ones. Other ideas to go green and save green: recycle among your own family members; use an old karate or ballet outfit; break out the princess dress-up clothes. Google “Halloween costumes you can make at home for cheap” and start surfing. And don’t forget to check thrift stores and garage sales all year.
Trick or Treating
Grab that rechargeable or LED shake flashlight and head out the door. Wait! Don’t forget the decorated cloth bag you can reuse next year. An even cheaper route (and it’s still space- and eco-friendly) is to go retro and use a pillowcase or go modern and use a cloth shopping bag. Pick up trash as you follow your trick-or-treaters and keep it in a separate bag or in the bottom of the stroller if you’re taking littles along, too.
Just so we’re clear, I’m not of the camp that lumps eco-friendly with sugar-free. And even if you’re handing out healthy Halloween treats, chances are you’re still sending individually wrapped stuff into the world (oh, the trash all over my neighborhood!). Instead of doing that, consider handing out something that can be either useful or recycled. Ideas include pencils, erasers, quarters, crayons, juice boxes (recyclable cardboard), cool bandages, bookmarks or seed packets (edible flowers, herbs, etc.).
Instead of buying decorations made in China that eat up batteries, consider strategically placing some hay bales in your yard or on your deck or front porch. Chrysanthemums, gourds, colorful corn, ghosts made of sheets stuffed with batting and scarecrows stuffed with hay (use some old clothes) are cheap and green choices. Nontoxic window paints are fun for kids to use on windows and doors. There are all kinds of Halloween crafts you can make out of materials you have around the house that can be saved for next year or recycled later. Crafts like bottle cap pumpkin magnets, tin can bat treat holders and an egg carton animal nose mask can also be a great activity at your Halloween party (see below). Check out http://familycrafts.about.com/od/halloween/tp/Recycled-Halloween-Crafts-For-Kids.htm for instructions and more craft ideas.
Speaking of decorations, pumpkins are the best decoration out there, and you can even grow your own if you have the space. Just toss a bunch of seeds in a large garden area and you’ll have freebies for next year. Otherwise, take an educational trip to a local pumpkin patch (www.PumpkinPatchesAndMore.org) so you support local farmers. Make sure you toast some pumpkin seeds (cinnamon sugar seeds rock!) and make a pie with the rest.
After you send out an Evite to the parents, start planning your green Halloween party. Instead of setting out individually wrapped treats, put carrots, orange slices and pretzels in bowls. Make sugar cookies in advance in cool Halloween shapes (bats, pumpkins, ghosts) and have the kids frost and decorate them with orange and black frosting. Throw some newspaper on the table, break out the nontoxic paints and decorate some pumpkins.