Green Your Halloween
Between costumes, candy holders, treat wrappers and plastic decorations, Halloween can quickly become a landfill’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, just about anything you do can be done in a more ecologically responsible way. Use these tips to green your Halloween – and save some serious green (cash!).
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Instead of buying new kids’ costumes, consider trading costumes with neighbors or the parents of your child’s friends. Other ideas to go green and save green: recycle costumes among your own family members; use an old karate or ballet outfit or break out the princess dress-up clothes. Another idea: Google “Halloween costumes you can make at home cheap” and start surfing. And don’t forget to check thrift stores and garage sales all year for inexpensive – and recycled – costumes.
Instead of buying decorations, consider placing some hay bales in your yard, on your deck or on your 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. Make Halloween crafts out of materials you have around the house, such as bottle cap pumpkin magnets, tin can bat treat holders and an egg carton animal nose mask. See familycrafts.about.com for instructions and more craft ideas.
You can grow your own pumpkins for next year, though doing so in Georgia takes a bit of effort – insects and plant diseases love pumpkins here. For tips, visit walterreeves.com, the website of WSB Radio’s garden talk show host. Pumpkin patches and corn mazes make for a fun family outing in fall; for a list of farms near metro Atlanta, see Page 57. Once you carve your pumpkin, make sure you toast some pumpkin seeds and make a pie with the rest.
Grab a decorated cloth bag you can reuse next year and a rechargeable flashlight. An even cheaper route 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.
Even if you’re handing out healthy Halloween treats, chances are you’re still sending individually wrapped stuff into the world and trash into the landfill. Consider handing out items 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.).
After you send out an Evite to the parents, start planning your green Halloween party. Instead of 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. A fun activity for kids and adults: Throw some newspaper on a table, break out the nontoxic paints and decorate some pumpkins.
– Kerrie McLoughlin