Halloween Gone Eco: Thank Ghouls

By Jane Vick

Let’s be honest, we’re all currently haunted. The human impact on this planet is catastrophic, and we live in the aftermath of our misguided decisions. But hope is not lost!  And while we slowly work to repair—to put the ghosts to rest, as it were—we must consider all the aspects of our impact. Halloween is a surprisingly big one. Think of the thousands upon thousands of disposable candy wrappers; the throwaway, poorly made costumes; the decorations used once and sent to the dump … these sorts of holiday practices are scary in all the wrong ways. But we don’t have to lose the good scares while ridding ourselves of the bad ones; an eco-friendly Halloween is possible, my goblins, and the time is nigh. Let’s get to it.

How to haunt the lawn

The non-recyclable plastic skeleton might be tempting, but unless we’re planning to cherish it for years to come, let’s forgo anything that will end up in a landfill. Instead, let’s opt for the obvious option—pumpkins! Vegetable matter of any kind will decompose and leave no trace—remember to compost!—and the seeds can be saved for roasting. Carved gourds placed along walkways, on porches or in windows make for a witchy, eerie feel when lit candles are placed inside them. Those of us looking for something with more impact can grab an old sheet, stuff it with newspaper, paint a mouth and two eyes, and—badabing!—a ghost. Feeling fancy? Set up some spooky lighting, and hang this hauntingly domestic ectoplasm from a tree or roof. Let’s hope it’s a breezy night when the trick-or-treaters come calling. These are two of many great ideas to be found online—just google “environmentally friendly halloween decorations,” and go to work.

Costumes that care

The costume is one of the most important Halloween features, and gives us each a chance to let loose and be a different character altogether for an evening. But the fact of the matter is that no matter how we slice it or dice it, we can’t justify buying a poorly made costume that we’re most likely going to wear once and throw away. It’s not the right move anymore, my friends, so let’s explore our other options. The DIY craft queens can skip this section, because they’ve no doubt made their own costumes for years; to them we doff our Lincoln hats and cat ears. The rest of us can, instead of tossing last year’s costume, try a costume-swap with friends—a last-year Dracula for a Cowardly Lion, and so on. Alternatively, many cool costumes can be DIY’d without busting out the sewing machine. I distinctly remember the year my Mom grabbed two giant pieces of white fabric with flecks, draped them over our dance leotards and turned my sister and I into Snow. It remains a fav to this day. Again, google is our best friend here. “Easy DIY costume ideas,” and we’re off to the races.

Eco sweet-treats

This is slightly tougher, because—unfortunately—we still live in an age of suspicion around anything not in a pre-sealed wrapper. I say go for it, and be sure to communicate with parents, but in the very likely chance that homemade treats are a no-go, look for things like organic lollipops and eco-friendly chocolates. Try to avoid plastic wrappers when possible, and plan to buy from the  local health food store instead of Walmart. It might be more expensive, but that’s OK—buy less, and enjoy the art of the hand-out that much more.

So let’s all think of the Earth this season while we’re scaring the pants off our neighbors and baking pumpkin-shaped cookies. Happy Halloween!

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