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Happy (Green) Halloween!

October 31, 2011

greenhalloween1

From its beginning as a Celtic harvest holiday to its largely secular nature today, Halloween has always prompted the masses to let loose and have a little fun trick-or-treating. This year, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly 37 million ghosts and goblins will be knocking down the doors of more than 106 million homes, all in the name of candy… or, if you’re one of the unlucky ones, pennies.

Of course, in the eco-savvy world that is 2011, there are always options to lighten the load we throw Mother Nature come November 1st and beyond – the plastic candy wrappers, the chemical laden masks, wigs, and once-worn costumes, and even the automobiles that need filling up after numerous shuttle runs to neighborhoods on the far reaches of town. That said, take a look at what we think may be some suitable suggestions as to how to ‘Go Green’ this Halloween.

Makeup and Costumes

halloween 005It’s a fact. Every year, anyone who is anyone, regardless of age, will search high and low (if not just their local costume shop) for the perfect get-up. The only problem is, said get-up will only be worn once, is likely made with questionable chemicals and even more questionable fabrics, and costs on average $64 per person. So why not get a little creative (or, with regard to the chemicals, healthy)? As simple as it sounds, stick to non-toxic, water-based make-ups; not only do they come off easier the next day, they are often made with natural dyes and colors. If you’re fortunate enough, go to a local health-food store and see if they carry any sustainable makeups. Many times, these are put together with local ingredients meaning your carbon-foot print is dramatically lowered.

When your face is all painted up, it’s time for clothes. Start in your closet. Not only are you saving money, but you’re likely re-inventing a pre-existing outfit. This means you won’t be one of the 67% of Halloweeners that admits to tossing out their costume the next day, which will ultimately head off to the nearest landfill for an eternity. We know, we know: a flimsy ‘Sexy Pirate’ costume can’t be that bad for the earth, but in actuality many costumes are laden with PVC (Polyvinyl chloride), which is often called the "poison plastic" because of chemical compounds called phthalates… this is the “smell” your new costume has and research shows a strong connection between phthalates and cancer development and growth. Further, mass produced masks often contain high amounts of lead – at a rate of nearly 800 parts per millions. ‘How bad is that?’ you may be asking; the federal limit is a little closer to 600 parts per million.

Decorations

imagesThese suggestions, much like those mentioned above, center in on creativity. Just as has become the trend on the national scale when lighting your home during the rest of the year, invest in LED lights – they last longer and light with less energy (that way, you can welcome trick-or-treaters to a well-lit home all hours of the night and not have to worry about a spooky bill the next month!).

When shopping for decorations, try locally owned stores – with regard to your carbon footprint, you can rest assured it will be smaller as chain-stores often ship goods from corporate warehouses hundreds of miles away from the store where you actually pay for them. If all else fails, recycle old decorations from years past or make your own – where there is a will, and a little cardboard… and glue… and string… and whatever else strikes your fancy, there is a way.

Oh, and when it comes to all the important pumpkin-carving, light it on up with a beeswax candle – they burn longer, so you won’t be buying more than you need!

Transportation

A Llittle bit of this & that..(2010) 721Let’s admit it: when it comes to candy gathering, half the fun is setting out with a large group and over-running neighborhood after neighborhood at a time like an angry mob… which may or may not be your costume. If you do decide to hit up other neighborhoods (read: or allow your children to), car-pool. Simple, we know, but it deserves repeating.

Candy

200-organic-trick-or-treat-Last but not least, the good stuff! Just as we suggested with decorations, check out local stores (carbon foot prints, people!). Further, be on the prowl for naturally flavored candies (yes, they still taste delicious!) that are low on sugar and free of preservatives – they’re also kinder on the teeth! Try looking for goods wrapped in plastic papers – they bio-degrade faster, becoming less of a burden on the earth, too!

Trick-or-Treat!

Using these green tips, Halloween can once again become a festival that is the celebration of the natural cycles of the Earth…. and of course, costumes and candy. Have any other tips or additions to what we’ve listed? Feel free to comment right up until nightfall on October 31st!

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