Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but unfortunately, the standard celebrations are often out of line with my ethics. For example, almost everything associated with Halloween is disposable, single-serving, or synthetic. Eek! To me, needless waste is a whole lot scarier than ghosts or goblins.
If youíre like me and interested in making your All Hallows’ Eve more environmentally friendly, then read on. Iíll show you how to infuse your orange-and-black with a little splash of ďgreen.Ē
1. Homemade costumes.
Iíve been doing this for years, scrapping together costumes from my own or secondhand clothes, but it seems especially important now that Iím a mother. I love to make my sonís costumes via creative repurposing. For example, on his first Halloween, he was only 7 months old, so that year I painted an old bike helmet to look like a turtle shell, and strapped it to his back. He had just mastered crawling and it was perfect! Last year I sewed him a little owl outfit out of old sweatshirts, and I made myself a ďFreudian Slip.Ē I love these homemade costumes and I love that weíll always be one-of-kind.
2. Costume swap.
If you do desire a specific or pre-packaged costume (maybe youíre short on time and making one just isnít in the cards Ė understandable, weíre all busy people!), consider setting up a pre-Halloween costume swap with a group of friends. This is also a good event to coordinate the week after Halloween, and youíll be all prepared for next year.
3. Conserve: save or donate.
In lieu of a costume swap, make sure you save your costume to be used again, either by you or another family member. Alternatively, you can donate it to a local theatre or charity. Whatever you do, donít throw it away!
4. Skip individually wrapped, highly processed candy.
Depending on your community, you may be able to make your own treats (think baked goods, roasted pumpkin seeds, or popcorn balls), and wrap them in paper which can be recycled. If you donít think the parents in your neighborhood will go for that, you can at least make sure to hand out healthier treats, free from high-fructose corn syrup, chemical coloring, and artificial flavors. Check Trader Joeís and Whole Foods for organic options.
5. Make sure your makeup is safe.
The majority of makeup, and essentially all costume face paints, can contain lead and other heavy metals. This is a serious issue and something to keep in mind when planning your childrenís costumes. You can learn more from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
6. Homemade decorations.
Instead of buying the plastic pre-made stuff, you can make your own fun decorations using recyclable materials like cardboard, newspaper, and aluminum foil. This doubles as an afternoon project for the kids!
7. Natural decorations.
You can also use nature to decorate, as itís all around and beautiful this time of year. Try a spread of brightly colored leaves, pumpkins and fancy gourds, etc. For the adventurous and extra-crafty, you can fashion an autumn-inspired door wreath.
8. Skip the store-bought candy bucket.
Yeah, the orange pumpkin pail is cute and nostalgic, but itís made of cheap plastic and itís leaching BPA. Instead, go old school and collect your candy in a pillowcase or wicker basket.
9. Use LEDs.
If you think youíll need extra light while trick-or-treating, make sure you pick out an LED flashlight. They also make LED head lamps, which is great for parents who need to go hands-free. If youíre passing out candy, light the way for trick-or-treaters with an LED porch light and LED- or solar-powered lamps along your pathway.
10. Eat those seeds.
When youíre carving your pumpkin, donít toss away those seeds! Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, iron, and other essential minerals Ė not to mention being absolutely delicious. Hereís my favorite roasting method, which takes less than 20 minutes.
11. Choose better candles.
Most commercial candles are made from paraffin, which is a petroleum product. For your jack-o’-lantern or other decorations, choose fragrance-free soy candles instead.
12. Party smarter.
If you plan to throw a Halloween bash, make sure that you provide visible recycling containers for guests to dispose of their used bottles and cans. For smaller gatherings, skip the disposables and just use your own cloth napkins, kitchen plates, and cutlery. Ask a few friends to pitch in on the clean-up and dishwashing. If youíre hosting a bigger shindig, buy the party cups/plates/napkins/cutlery made from recycled or sustainable materials.
Happy eco-friendly Halloween!
By Sayward Rebhal, Networx