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Go Green This Halloween

October 22, 2018

Orange and black are the traditional Halloween colors, but try greening up your Halloween by making some simple eco-friendly substitutions:

For decorations:

  1. When purchasing new decorations, try to choose items that are solid and can be reused every year, versus cheaper items that will quickly break, tear, pop or fade. Start with classic Halloween symbols like spiders, ghosts or witches so you can build themes off of those for variation; for example, simple skeleton figures can be altered the following year with distressed cast-off clothing to resemble ghost pirates.
  2. Resale shops and thrift stores often hold treasure troves of Halloween decorations. Be sure to also donate your used decorations and costumes.
  3. Swap or share holiday decorations with friends and relatives.
  4. Cut stylishly spooky Halloween window silhouettes from basic black construction paper. Websites such as DIY Network provide templates and step-by-step instructions (com/how-to/make-and-decorate/crafts/how-to-make-halloween-window-silhouettes). After Halloween, store the silhouettes flat in a large mailing envelope to reuse next year. If you accidentally tear a silhouette, most types of paper, including construction paper, is recyclable.
  5. Don’t toss the jack-o’-lanterns into the garbage after Halloween! Pumpkins provide dense nourishment for soil, so compost them by breaking them apart and placing in a compost bin, or just set them in the garden directly on the ground. The pumpkins will decompose over winter and whatever is left can be worked into the garden soil for the spring planting season. (Be sure to remove any candles or wax from the pumpkin.)

For Trick-or-Treat:

  1. Minimize wrappings by baking your own cookies, cupcakes or other treats for school parties or church and community events. Not a cook or a baker? Many local bakeries have beautifully decorated cookies and other treats packed in to-go recyclable or compostable boxes or bags.
  2. When selecting fun-size candy to hand out to Trick-or-Treaters, avoid plastic wrappers and opt for treats packaged in boxes.
  3. Opt for ethically sourced palm oil (a common ingredient in commercial candy bars), chocolate and fair trade or union-made candy.
  4. Natural grocery stores carry some brands of Earth-friendly individual treats like Endangered Species Bug Bites or Yummy Earth Lollipops. (Although these options cost a little more than commercially produced candy.)
  5. Items like temporary tattoos or art supplies such as non-toxic crayons are good alternatives to candy.
  6. Use cloth bags or used pillowcases for Trick-or-Treat bags.

For parties:

  1. Choose reusable mix-and-match serving platters, plates, cups and cloth napkins (these items can also be found at resale shops) instead of paper plates and napkins. If you have to use disposable plates and cups, go with compostable or biodegradable tableware. (It’s tempting to go with fun Halloween themed paper plates and napkins, but those often contain artificial inks and dyes.)
  2. For children’s parties, have the kids create decorations from paper bags, non-toxic paints, leftover fabric scraps (cheesecloth makes amazing spider webs and ghost shrouds!) or buttons. Each child can take his or her decoration home after the party.
  3. Choose fabric tablecloths over paper or plastic ones.
  4. Make your own food and snacks for the party menu or have a potluck event instead of purchasing packaged snacks or carry-out/delivery foods.

With a little planning and creativity, Halloween doesn’t have to be wasteful or excessive. Happy Green Halloween!

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. 

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