7 Ways to Celebrate a Green Halloween

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Make this Halloween an eco-friendly celebration.

Every holiday is an opportunity to create new family traditions, including green habits and eco-friendly choices. If you don't already green your holidays, Halloween is a good time to start.

From costumes and trick-or-treat bags to party decorations and holiday lights, there are many ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Choosing a green Halloween is a healthy decision for you and your family. It saves natural resources and protects the environment. It also saves you money.

Before you do your Halloween shopping at your favorite retailer, consider how the things you buy create waste, use energy, and bust your budget. In the long run, sustainable and natural alternatives are cheaper, healthier, and much more fun.

Commit to make at least one green change this holiday season, then challenge yourself to make small changes through the year. In time, you and your family will reap the benefits of a new, healthier lifestyle. Here are seven ways to make your Halloween an "eek-o-friendly" celebration.

1. Green Halloween Costumes

Halloween is all about the costumes. It can be tempting to buy the cheap, plastic, throwaway kind, but consider the cost to your health and the environment.

Instead of purchasing a costume, recycle one from a previous year. Raid your closet to fashion a costume from old clothes and accessories. Or visit a resale shop and rummage through the garment racks.

Use cardboard boxes or household items to create unique, eco-friendly costumes. Find instructions at The Daily Green, the Good Housekeeping consumer guide to green living.

Don't forget the makeup. Whether you're painting your own lips or drawing cat whiskers on your child's face, conventional makeup is potentially toxic to your body and the eco-system. Use organic cosmetics and natural skin care products.

2. Green Halloween Treats

Who said you have to give sweet, sugary candy to the trick-or-treaters who ring your doorbell? Consider healthier treats and non-food alternatives.

For greener treats, choose certified organic or fair trade chocolates. Or hand out organic chips, energy bars, natural fruit strips, or raisins in small, recyclable boxes.

For non-food treats, think sea shells, polished rocks, hair clips, recycled pencils, or pennies for UNICEF. I hand out Halloween evangelism tracts with edible treats. Children treasure small keepsake items.

If you do distribute candy and other packaged treats, recycle the wrappers and send them to TerraCycle. This fast-growing green company collects waste and turns it into new products.

3. Green Treat Bags

Make sure your kids and young friends have eco-friendly bags for trick-or-treat. From canvas totes to pillowcases to re-purposed milk jugs, the possibilities are endless.

Make it a craft project, and let the kids decorate their own bags. This will help them feel like they are really celebrating the holiday.

If you must have new bags for treats, opt for reusable bags like Halloween ChicoBags (shown here). They come in various themes such as jack-o-lantern, Frankenstein, haunted house, purple ghost, and skull.

Each purchase includes a donation to Green Halloween, a grassroots movement to create healthier, more sustainable holiday celebrations.

4. Green Halloween Decorations

There's no need to buy commercial Halloween decorations. Plastic items are generally gaudy, gimmicky, and bad for the environment.

Go natural with locally grown gourds, pumpkins, acorns, leaves, and fall flowers. Eliminate the waste by composting these decorations when Halloween is over.

Use paper bags to make door and window decorations. Recycle them after the holiday or store them to reuse next year, just like you do with your Christmas ornaments.

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5. Green Halloween Lights

If you light your Halloween with candles, choose soy-based candles over candles with a petroleum base. Soy products are better for you and the environment.

For electric lights, use black and orange LED string lights or compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs. Although CFL bulbs cost more initially, they use much less energy than incandescent bulbs, and they last 10 times longer. They're a good way to save energy and money all year.

6. Green Halloween Party

To keep Halloween green, healthy, and safe, skip trick-or-treat altogether. Instead, throw a backyard party at home. Send electronic invitations to avoid paper waste and postage costs.

Serve popcorn, pita chips, veggies, and dips. Drink apple juice, or bob for organic apples. Carve pumpkins, read scary stories, or go on a flashlight scavenger hunt for Halloween treats.

After the party, brush away the sweets with a fun, recyclable toothbrush. Preserve, a company that makes eco-friendly products for the home, sells 100 percent recyclable toothbrushes for adults and kids.

Available from Amazon and other retail outlets, Preserve toothbrushes are a great way for families to recycle. A subscription program replaces your toothbrush when you recycle the old one.

7. Green Halloween Cleanup

Make your Halloween cleanup a green event, too. When the holiday is over, send the pumpkins, gourds, and other organic materials to the compost heap.

Recycle the costumes, party supplies, bottles, cans, and other items that your city accepts for recycling.

If you live in the United States, mark your calendar for November 15. That's when citizens celebrate America Recycles Day, a national initiative of Keep America Beautiful.

Your Turn

How do YOU go green for Halloween? Leave your answer in the comments below. And if you liked this post, use those nifty buttons on the left to share it with your social networks. Thank you!

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© 2013 Annette R. Smith

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Comments 2 comments

Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

Love the ideas --- interesting timing of publication, Annette. I smiled at the toothbrush treat pic. When I taught elementary grades in a rough urban school, I also gave out toothbrushes. Some of my 5th-graders were already losing permanent teeth due to lack of dental care.


Annette R. Smith profile image

Annette R. Smith 3 years ago from Orlando, Florida Author

Thank you, Maren. I wrote some holiday hubs and thought, "Why not publish them now?" This one was fun to create, and I try to incorporate the recycling tips throughout the year. I love that you gave toothbrushes to your kids at school ... and that the reminder gave you a smile.

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