Have a Green Hallowe’en!

From buying organically grown pumpkins and bobbing apples at the local farmers’ market to making your own costume from thrift store finds, there are many things you can do to ensure an earth-friendly holiday.

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Create your own costumes out of old clothes or second-hand store purchases. Have a costume exchange with friends and neighbors. And while you’re at it, why not do an eco-themed costume? There are lots of ideas on the web.

Masks are usually made of vinyl or latex. Vinyl can emit toxic fumes, and should be avoided. (How to tell them apart? Vinyl smells like a shower curtain, latex rubber masks smell like balloons.) Any mask can impair your vision, so instead try using homemade face paint: Mix 3 tablespoons of corn starch, ¾ cup of light corn syrup, 1 tablespoon of flour, and ¼ cup of cold water. Divide the paint into separate cups and add a couple of drops of food coloring to each.

Carve your Jack O’Lantern from an organic pumpkin from your local famers’ market. Use beeswax or soy candles, which burn cleaner than traditional candles, or use a string of energy-sipping LED lights. And either roast the seeds to make a healthy snack for yourself or set them out raw for wildlife.

Avoid buying those plastic pumpkins for trick-or-treating. Reuse the one from last year, find a used one at a resale shop, or decorate a cloth bag or pillowcase.

Buy new-to-you decorations at thrift stores.

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Trick-or-treat in a safe neighborhood where you can walk from house to house instead of driving. Light your way from house to house with a flashlight that uses rechargeable batteries, or better yet, one you can crank or shake to light.

Light the way to your front door using candles in luminarias made by punching holes in empty tin cans. Replace your incandescent porch light with an energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulb or LED light. (you should do this anyway!)

Usually, a list like this will have a comment on giving all the little ghosts and goblins healthy snacks instead of candy. Like raisins or granola bars. But the child in me just screams “No, no, no! Give me a Milky Way!” Some have suggested quarters or dimes, coloring books or spooky pencils as a substitute. No! Unacceptable! CANDY!!!!

Sit on your front porch to hand out treats instead of opening and closing the door, which wastes energy. And if you wear a costume and sit real still, you can scare the bejeebers out of the trick-or-treaters!

When the ghouls have all disappeared for another year, compost your pumpkin instead of throwing it in the trash. Go ahead and smash it first—it will help start the decomposition process. (and it’s fun – just ask generations of young hooligans!)

For more ideas, just google “Green Halloween”!