Top Green Halloween Tips
Skip the plastic costumes
If you’re trying to be the most realistic pirate, superhero, or, um, mustard bottle at this year’s bash, then a cheap, store-bought costume is the way to go—though the hidden dangers and environmental impact should outweigh even the most enthusiastic compliments from other party-goers. Watch out for the soft vinyl—similar to shower curtain material—in many mass-produced costumes: that’s likely polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which releases dangerous chemicals. Not exactly something you want covering your face (or your child’s)—plus, it can’t be recycled.
Get creative at home
So what to do instead? With a little planning and creativity, even the least handy DIYers can put together a costume with items they have at home——try stringing old ping pong balls for Wilma Flintstone’s classic necklace, or bending old wire hangers into butterfly wings. Scour your closets (and your friends’, and neighbors’, and local thrift stores) for flashback fashions you can pair up, trim down, sew together, or dye (naturally, of course).
You just won’t look like Marilyn Monroe without red lipstick, or turn into a zombie prom queen without plenty of eyeshadow. But do choose organic, natural makeup for your transformation, and avoid the mercury, pthalates, parabens, and fragrances that come standard in most big-name brands. You can make your own, find an organic retailer, or special-order vegan makeup for exactly the right shade. The same goes for hair dye—eco-friendly brands let you rest easy when you see it all going down the drain (aka, back into the water supply), but don’t underestimate old-fashioned techniques, like a handful of baby powder for a junior Albert Einstein. Check out our guide for How to Go Green: Women’s Personal Care, for more makeup details.
Bar classic candies
Half the fun of Halloween is the sugar high, no matter how old you are. But by stocking your bowl with organic, natural treats instead, you can escape many of the chemicals and preservatives that are even scarier than your neighbor’s Frankenstein mask. Look for brands that donate part of their profits to environmental causes; Fair Trade-sourced chocolates; or sweets made with pure cane sugar, fruit juice, and natural colors. If you’re skipping candy for health reasons, try handing out small toys, pencils, or soy crayons. There are lots more ideas at greenhalloween.org.
Choose a kid-friendly carryall
When it comes to hauling all those treasures home, reusable canvas bags get the win over plastic or paper for safety and environmental reasons. Buy your own blank bags and let the little ones decorate them with non-toxic paint—they’re sure to be an annual highlight—or browse craft stores and online retailers for seasonal offerings that sport witches, ghosts, and goblins galore. Then keep your kids visible to passing cars with battery-free flashlights.
Set the mood
The soft flickering of traditional candles gives Halloween its spooky feel—and what’s a jack-o-lantern without one?—but the paraffin in wax candles releases toxic chemicals like toluene and benzene through smoke and soot. Clean up your home and keep your lungs healthy with organic soy candles, which last longer and come from renewable soy bean crops. And as for that jack-o-lantern, buy him from a local farm (and don’t let his seeds go to waste; toast them) or, better yet, buy a ceramic one that you can reuse next year.
Keep it simple
The rest of your decorations—plastic spiders, dangling skeletons, spooky scarecrows—should be one-time purchases that you use every year, just like the rest of your holiday decor. When possible, look for reclaimed material; if you’re buying things you know you can’t keep—like streamers or paper plates—be sure to look for brands that are both recycled and recyclable.
If spiders and skeletons aren’t your thing, you can draw inspiration from the harvest bounty; think pumpkins, gourds, straw bales, and corn husks (all from your local farms, of course). Serve up snacks and nibbles made from other farm-fresh, seasonal produce, like squash soup, carrot cake, and apple cider. Check in with Local Harvest to find farms and other local spots to get the best of the harvest in your neck of the woods.
Support Fair Trade with ‘reverse trick-or-treating’
As a way to highlight the plight of cocoa farmers and to showcase the benefits of Fair Trade, the folks at Global Exchange have started a Reverse Trick-or-Treating program to help raise awareness while collecting goodies on Halloween. It’s really easy. Sign-up through the ‘Reverse Trick-or-Treating website to receive samples of Fair Trade chocolates, along with some cards that outline the program. Kids hand out the cards and samples to adults when they go to the door on Halloween.
Skip the candy aisle altogether
If you’re such a Halloween purist that you can’t bear the thought of handing out anything but sugar, then see our ideas above. But if you’re the non-traditional type, try stocking up on healthy treats: organic dried fruit, granola bars, and popcorn packets all work (and come individually packaged, so even the most discerning parents won’t trash them for safety reasons). GreenHalloween.org also offers a list of non-food ideas, like hair barrettes (which you could make yourself), seed packets, small toys made from recycled plastic, stickers, and soy crayons.
To read more fun tips on a green Halloween from Blythe Copeland click here!