A Guide to Greening Halloween

Halloween is one of the holidays that can really take its toll on resources: candy, decorations, food, costumes, and more but here’s a guide that can help you green the three major areas of Halloween fun: the costume, the party and the decorations.

Green Your Costume

One of the first ways to green Halloween this year is by making sure your costume is as eco-friendly as possible.

Store-bought Halloween costumes are often made from synthetic fabrics that can be full of petroleum by products and harsh chemicals. If you want to be eco-conscious there are a couple eco-friendly options you may want to consider for greening your Halloween costume.
First of all you could wear an old costume.
Perhaps there's something sitting in the back of your closet that you haven't worn in years, or you could borrow something from a friend. By not purchasing a new costume you are saving precious resources. Reusing is very green. You can always purchase used costumes on places like eBay, too. This is a really great place to find gently used and super adorable kids’ costumes. Some areas even have costume swaps and resale events.
Another way to green your costume this year is to make one out of old clothes.
Check out your attic, basement, garage or wherever you have boxes of old clothes - better yet, check your parents' or your grandparents' house for old clothes and accessories. There could be a treasure trove of items just waiting for new life as your Halloween costume. Think of the possibilities: 20’s flapper chick, 50’s sock hop style, groovy hippie clothes, and awesome 80’s…you get the idea.
Go on a costume and clothing scavenger hunt.
Visit thrift stores, consignment shops and even antique stores to look for old costumes or clothing that can be transformed into a cool Halloween creation. Some online sites like eBay, Craigslist and your local Freecycle chapter may also have fabulous green Halloween potential where you can find free and low cost Halloween costume items.
Skip Halloween masks.
Most masks are made of vinyl, PVC or other petroleum byproducts and are full of harsh chemicals. If you really want a mask for your costume opt for the simple do-it-yourself eye masks that you can make from cardboard, papier-mâché, lace, or felt--decorate with feathers, glitter and sequins.

Beware of toxic cosmetics.
With all the scary stuff that's in traditional cosmetics (like lead, phthalates, parabens, etc) you’ll want to look for natural cosmetics in colors to match your costume and theme.
Search for costumes made from eco-friendly fabrics.
If you can’t put together a great costume out of old clothes or old costumes search for costumes made from fabrics like hemp, bamboo, peace silk and organic cotton.

Halloween Décor That’s Eco-Friendly
Halloween décor is another area where everything seems to be mass produced and disposable.

Stores are often filled with Halloween decorations that cost a fortune and may not even survive the season and even if they do many people toss a lot of stuff straight into the trash once Halloween is over.

Quit spending your hard earned money on plastic junk when you can use stuff you have lying around the house to make your own creepy concoctions. Go green this Halloween by skipping the shopping spree and have a fun-filled family weekend craftactular instead.
Start out by raiding the garbage and recycling bins.
Don’t say gross, your recycling bins should have rinsed out and semi clean containers in them not oozing food trash (that should all be composted). So, what did you find in your bins?  Some tin cans, glass jars, plastic containers and cardboard toilet-paper and paper towel rolls? Perfect.
Now let's see what Halloween goodies you can create out of these items.

You can turn the tin cans into spooky candle holders with a little paint and a hammer and nail. Use the hammer and nail to punch holes in the can. The designs can be random or made in scary Halloween designs like pumpkins, ghosts witches and cats.
If that's too hard you just punch holes around the top and bottom in a row all the way around the can, and then a few in the middle. Just put plenty of holes in them so the candlelight will shine through.
A tip to make the punched hole designs easier-fill the tin cans with water and freeze them. While the water is frozen inside punch the holes in the can. This makes the process so much easier.
Paint fun Halloween colors and designs on the cans with acrylic paint. Then add candles or flameless LED lights to give them that creepy glow.

Now that you are done with the tin cans you can transform any glass jars you found into crafty candy containers or fun candle holders. To create these green Halloween containers you can glue on paper designs, add stickers or paint the bottles with acrylic or glass paints. If you are creative and skilled enough you could even etch the glass with fall and Halloween designs.
To make the jars into candy containers purchase unwrapped colorful candy in bulk and add to the candy jars for colorful displays. (This also makes a great contest if you count the number of candy pieces in the jar so you know how many there are, then you make guests guess for a chance to win a prize).

Put candles inside to jars to transform them into scary luminaries.

Another recycle bin craft is turning the cardboard toilet-paper and paper towel rolls into fun favor boxes and creepy little crafts. With just a little paint, some stickers, maybe a few pipe cleaners or even a few jewels, you can turn plain and ordinary into something surprising and extraordinary. To transform them into simple Jack O' Lanterns, paint them pumpkin orange, let them dry, and then paint black or yellow faces on them.
Here’s another green Halloween craft idea-turn plastic containers into fun Halloween creatures. Plastic laundry soap bottles can rather easily be turned into spooky black cats and big orange pumpkins with a little bit of spray paint for plastic and a good imagination.
Does that sound a little too crafty for you?

How about getting ghostly with old sheets, pillowcases or tablecloths?
Old white or very light colored linens can easily be made into ghastly ghosts that you can hang indoors or out. Just toss a sheet over a ball or a "head" made of stuffed newspaper, tie something around the head and let the rest of the sheet float freely. Get fancy and shred the bottom of the material to let it float freely in the breeze, get creative and add some blood spatter with red paint or tape in a few battery-operated LED lights for glowing creepiness.

More creepy green décor can be made with old clothes.
You can welcome trick-or-treaters or party guests with scarecrows, zombies and dismembered body parts by using some old clothes to create spooky creatures and dismembered parts that can be placed in chairs, seated on benches or arranged shockingly wherever you wish. All you have to do is stuff the old clothes with other old clothes or crumpled newspaper; then add a mask or a pumpkin head. Make it super spooky by adding a small tape recorder with some creepy sounds or a moving animatronics hand to really give people a fright. Just make sure to be green and use rechargeable batteries. 

Another way to make super green Halloween decorations is by incorporating natural elements as part of your spooky Halloween and seasonal Fall decor. Pumpkins, gourds, squash, cornstalks, dried corn and apples look really great arranged artfully together as show stopping Autumn displays., Add fall flowers like mums, marigolds and late-blooming sunflowers for beautiful flower accents.

Pumpkins are very versatile and can be used alone, with other natural elements or even used as elegant vases.
The tops of pumpkins can be cut off, scooped out and filled with water, then used as a decorative vase filled with flowers. And don’t forget about carving some pumpkins. The trusty Jack O' Lantern is still one of the best ways to decorate green for Halloween. Grab some pumpkins, have a family fun night and see who can carve the best pumpkin and don't forget to light them up on Halloween with eco-soy candles or safe battery operated LED candles.

Green Your Halloween Party

Are you planning to have a Halloween party this year?

You can have an earth friendly Halloween party by being a little more aware while planning and making just a few changes to make sure this year is a green Halloween.

Even though ecological awareness is growing many people get confused during holiday planning, especially if they are throwing a party. They fall back into the ways they've always done things like using plastic silverware, disposable plates and tablecloths and other one time use items. That’s not exactly an ecologically friendly option. Ditch the disposables. Forget the plastic. Opt for natural, sustainable things that won't hurt the earth.

You can start your eco-Halloween party out right by sending electronic invitations. Evite is a great Website that helps you organize and keep track of your mailing list, invitations and RSVP notices. Not a single piece of paper needs to be used for the invitation process. It's all electronic.
If that’s not your thing at least go tree free--or choose recycled paper for your spooktacular invitations. If you have kids that want to make the invitations and pass them out to friends this may be an easier route.  Choose scrap paper, recycled paper or anything you already have on hand and some eco-friendly art supplies then let the kids design and make invitations and even some decorations.
Make sure to ditch all the disposables that you can.
Try not to use disposable table wares or one time use tablecloths. Opt for fun and colorful plates, napkins and tablecloths in fun seasonal colors and prints that can be reused year after year. And use regular silverware. Yes, that means washing more dishes, but it's better for the environment and it won’t kill you, honestly it won’t.
Decorate your green Halloween party with natural, reusable and recycled items. See the previous section on green Halloween decorating for ideas.
Try to serve an organic, local and seasonal menu. Think of fresh apples, pumpkin muffins, caramel apples, fresh apple cider, apple tarts, and other sweet treats made from organic ingredients. Visit your local Farmer’s Market to see what’s in season and stock up on the local grown goodness.
Give party goers and trick or treaters earth friendly tasty treats.
You can give out yummy organic candy like Endangered Species mini organic chocolate bars and YummyEarth organic lollipops. Visit www.naturalcandystore.com for many organic candy options.
Want to light up the night? Consider solar powered outdoor decorations and LED lights to conserve energy and if you use candles, pick natural beeswax and soy candles.
Giving away door prizes or goody bags? Choose items that are eco-friendly.
Forget about the plastic favors that often get broken, lost or thrown away within hours, consider reusable and fun things guests can enjoy for a long time like canvas tote bags, books, notebooks made from recycled or tree free paper, or for kids - eco-friendly toys.

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