It is that time of the year again and Halloween is just around the corner. If you haven’t yet settled on costumes, decorations or treats here are a few suggestions to help make your holiday more environmentally friendly.
Did you know that approximately 6,250 tons of waste a year makes it way to our landfills as a result of buying new Halloween costumes? Fortunately, there are many ways to help reverse this disturbing trend:
- Most store bought costumes are made from polyester which is not good for either you or the planet. Look for suitable costume clothing that is made from organic cotton or silk. Both of these choices steer you away from the petroleum that is inherent in the production of polyester and other man-made materials.
- Check out second hand stores such as Goodwill or children’s resale shops. Not only might you find donated costumes ready to go, you can put together your own costume from the many choices available. The cost is low and the possibilities are endless. Complete the cycle by donating these items back to the store where purchased.
- Your own house may be a treasure chest of costume ready items. Aprons, hats, costume jewelry and scarves are just a few of the pieces you may already have.
- Organize a neighborhood swap. Folks with kids older than yours may have saved costumes that would now fit your children.
- Of course, most children want to wear the current popular character but many costumes are a basic pattern with specific accessories that transform it into a particular character. Make use of these basic patterns and add updated accessories to turn it into the desired result. You can also buy patterns and sew your own costumes.
Another way you can make your Halloween more ‘green’ is in the treats you choose to give away. To be fair, most trick or treaters will not be happy finding non-food handouts in their bags even though you can find long lists of suggestions in this vein. You can, however, give treats that are sweet but healthier for both the kids and the planet. Some suggestions are:
- Fruit strips
- Applesauce or yogurt packets
- Boxes of raisins and other dried fruits
- Granola bars
- Snack size bags of cookies
- Organic licorice and chocolate (fair trade is even better!)
Halloween decorations, including Jack o Lanterns, also have a lot of environmentally friendly potential. There are several options for lighting your carved pumpkin these days. LED lights are very efficient and don’t generate heat. You can also choose solar lighting or flameless candles. If you do prefer actual candles, try to use soy wax or beeswax. They are made from natural materials (unlike petroleum based paraffin) and burn much cleaner. A bonus to not using candles is that you can then recycle your pumpkin flesh and turn it into puree for pie, muffins, etc. Other simple decorations include scarecrows made from your own clothing and stuffed with leaves or newspaper, sheets and cloth hankies made into ghosts, and corn stalks that can double as a Thanksgiving decoration. Use your imagination and you too can have a ‘green’ Happy Halloween!