Elaborate parties, outrageous costumes, fantastic decorations -- to me that screams Halloween! This historically pagan holiday is growing in popularity with children and adults alike, and the sums spent to celebrate are keeping a spookily high pace.
But Halloween's biggest horror story isn't its price tag. Unknown components in store-bought costumes and the eerie amount of waste generated by candy and decorations can be downright frightening for the environment.
Before you run screaming into the night, take heart. There are lots of ways you can make smart choices for your wallet -- and the planet -- without scaring away all the fun. Here are some suggestions:
- Organize a costume swap. According to Robert Lilienfeld of the Use Less Stuff Report, roughly 25 million children in the United States celebrate Halloween. Swapping half of their costumes with other children would reduce annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons, equivalent to the weight of 2,500 midsize cars! And this doesn't even address adult costumes. Visit www.greenhalloween.org for tips on setting up your own swap.
- Hand make costumes if you can. Many store-bought costumes and accessories contain components that pose a potential hazard to your child, to the environment, and to the people who helped to make them. Use materials and clothing you already have around your home to create a costume from reused materials.
- Say no to plastic treat bags! Send the kids off with a pillowcase, a reusable tote or one of the eco-friendly bags you use when grocery shopping.
Restrict trick-or-treating to areas you can walk to with your kids, and leave the car in the garage.
But what's the real secret to an eco-friendly Halloween? Getting your kids to buy into the concept. Many of them are learning about environmental issues in school, so invite their suggestions and work with them to carve out some spine-tingling, planet-saving ideas.
What are your green Halloween traditions?