Forget the orange and black. Green is the hottest color for fall. We all know the drill about conserving energy and natural resources using eco-friendly practices. So why not for Halloween? The hard part is breaking out of the mindless zombie rut we fall into because we’re too busy/tired/stressed to come up with creative ways to follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) sensible guidelines: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Isn’t it time to give Halloween a totally green makeover? Here’s how:
Reduce. Candy wrappers are made from mixed plastics, making them difficult and expensive to recycle. Limit the purchase of pre-packaged chocolate minis in shiny wrappers. Instead, choose small biodegradable boxes of candy treats or sweet dried fruit.
Reuse. Invite your friends and their kids to a Mix & Match Costume Swap. Throw all outgrown costumes into a pile and let the kids loose to design their own costumes, no matter how wacky or mismatched. Exchange goody bags, plastic pumpkin buckets, LED lights.
Recycle. If your pumpkin is still firm and solid, cut it into chunks, pare the rind, and stir-fry in butter till tender. Season with garlic salt or cinnamon sugar. But if soft, black, and mushy, toss it on the compost heap or leave out for scavenging deer.
Reduce. Manufactured decorations are frightfully festive. But how many glow-in-the-dark skeletons do you really need? Natural decorations are plentiful now: pumpkins, gourds, hay bales, corn stalks, dried berries, mums. If these aren’t gory enough for your kids, whip up a crime scene. Draw outlines of dead bodies on your drive with chalk, spatter some fake blood (corn syrup and red food coloring), and mark off the area with yellow tape. Stud your lawn with homemade wood lath crosses and cardboard headstones.
Reuse. Rather than take your little goblins trick-or-treating, reuse what Mother Nature supplies. Farms across the country offer outdoor family-centered activities: corn mazes, hayrides, pumpkin patches, haunted barns.
Recycle. Parties generate tons of recyclable waste. Paper and plastic party plates and cups, packaging from doughnuts and cookies, plastic cider jugs, slightly-used napkins, soda cans, juice boxes, cardboard and paper decorations. Make sure all items are wiped clean, rinsed, and food-free before adding to the recycle bin.
Reduce. Packaged face painting kits eliminate the need for vision-blocking masks, but keep your purchases minimal. Read the fine print. Make sure the paint is FDA approved, cosmetic grade, lead-free.
Reuse. In place of candy, coins, or small plastic gifts, think about treating with books. Stock up with youth paperbacks and small picture books at your library’s used book sale. Wait until the last day, when books are sold for pennies or offered by the box-load.
Reduce. Avoid wasting gas driving your kids from house to house. If you live in a rural area where homes are distant, take your kids trick-or-treating at the mall, or to school- or church-sponsored parties. Or host your own party.
Reduce. Your outdoor lights will be blazing all night. Turn off indoor lights in any unoccupied rooms.