Remember when the biggest Halloween hazard was razor blades in the candy? Or so we thought. We wore devilish masks and ran around the neighborhood collecting candy in our plastic pumpkins, returning home to stuff our faces with candy until our tummies hurt. When you’re a kid, ignorance is bliss. Now, we’re older, greener, and wiser, and we know better. Many masks are toxic PVC and those plastic pumpkins are still sitting in landfills years later.
A few simple swaps can guard the health of the planet, your family and your wallet without sacrificing a ghoulish good time.
1. Pass on the plastic pumpkin. Trick or Treat with Reusable Bags or decorate an old pillowcase or bucket that you can use every year.
2. Create a fabulously freaky costume. Vinyl costumes and masks smell like chemicals because they’re actually off-gassing toxic chemicals. Browse thrift shops, flea markets and your own closet for inspiration to DIY. You can masquerade into anything you can imagine - an old prom dress, broken umbrella, or toilet paper rolls are the beginnings of great costumes. You are sure to feed your children’s imagination, and their sense of achievement will far exceed any store bought creation. After Halloween, store your homemade costumes for future use, donate the clothing from which they were made, or recycle the items used.
If you want a more elaborate disguise, visit a costume rental shop. You may not avoid the chemical exposure, but your conscience will be greener knowing it will be re-used next year.
4. Indulge in Green Goodies. When the neighborhood ghouls show up at your door, give them treats that also treat the environment gently. If your budget allows, purchase candy made from natural ingredients. If you stick with traditional candy, choose goodies that have minimal packaging. Consider giving out pencils, crayons, or temporary tattoos. You will reduce the amount of garbage produced from single-serve packages and will provide an alternative to unhealthy sweets.
5. Purchase organic, locally grown pumpkins or grow your own! Don't throw away all the goodies from inside your Jack-o-Lantern. Toast the seeds for tasty treats and use the flesh for delicious recipes like pumpkin brownies.
6. Ditch disposable decorations. Many decorations are made from non-recyclable plastics and the only thing scary about them is the amount of time they’ll take to decompose in a landfill! Use items already in your home for ghoulish decorations and natural products like pumpkins, gourds and corn to create an autumnal look.
Recycled and recyclable materials are great Halloween decorations. Hang bed sheetsfor ghosts, Make a scarecrow from old clothes stuffed with newspapers, use old stockings for spider webs, transform cardboard boxes into tombs and create a milk jug skeleton.
7. Make Your Halloween Party Eco-Friendly. Send electronic invites instead of paper. Cut down on waste byusing washable plates/cups/utensils and tablecloths or use recyclable or compostable single use items. Check out Susty Party for compostable party products. Put out recycling bins for bottles and cans. Buy locally grown seasonal produce and create fun/healthy party snacks. Check out this directory for places throughout Monmouth County
8. Compost your pumpkin, food scraps and other organic, biodegradable yard and household waste. A pumpkin may be all-natural, but send it to a sealed landfill and it will emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. No compost pile? Recycle pumpkins for wildlife. Avoid painted pumpkins - you don’t want the paint chemicals in your compost or being fed to wildlife! Composting is something you can do year-round and Halloween is a great time to start. It will transform your organic yard and household waste into fertilizer for your gardens and reduce the amount of garbage you send to the landfill.
9. Keep Halloween Clean – Prevent candy wrappers from becoming litter and teach kids to hold onto wrappers until they can dispose of them in trash cans. Bring an extra bag for yourself when trick or treating to pick up litter along the way. Encourage kids to get creative and upcycle their candy wrappers into jewelry, hair bows, wreaths or pumpkins! These make great DIY holiday gifts.
10. Keep it Going – Living an eco-friendly lifestyle and reducing waste and pollution should be a daily event, not a special occasion. Apply the strategies you used for a green Halloween to the way you live every day, both you and the environment will benefit.
Check out our Pinterest page for more tips to make your Halloween green!