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Rooted in autumnal mythology, Halloween has become a thoroughly modern affair that offers kids and grown-ups alike a supernatural amount of fun. And everyone is getting in on the ghostly action in record numbers. According to new figures from the National Retail Federation, the increasing (and increasingly elaborate) amount of Halloween rites is no apparition: Two out of five of us plan to dress up, and half of all Americans will decorate their home or yard, which makes our national participation in the holiday second only to December's celebrations. That's a fearsome amount of trick-or-treating, and the consumption and waste it generates can be a real horror show for the Earth. Yet there's no unearthly reason Halloween has to raise such an environmental specter. These eerily perfect ideas can ensure it only causes the right kind of nightmares:

  • First, realize that you don't have to shop your way to an entertaining Halloween. Our helpful howl-to guide can help make sure the only thing haunting your celebration is a spirit of sustainability.
  • If you've conjured up all you can and still need to do some Halloween shopping, plan ahead, make a list, and stick to it when you're in the store in order to avoid the costly curse of wasteful impulse buying.
  • When done with them, put your costumes away for the second Saturday in October , which is National Costume Swap Day, a diabolically good chance to give old costumes a new life. Look for an event in your community or organize one yourself!
  • Participate in reverse trick-or-treating, which calls for kids to distribute Fair Trade chocolates to adults on Halloween, each attached to a card explaining fair trade solutions to cocoa industry issues. Kits are available for the cost of shipping from October 1-8 or until supplies run out. Or buy a set of 150 chocolates for $24.
  • Consider skipping trick-or-treating altogether and getting back to Halloween's roots as a celebration of the end of the lighter months of the year and the start of the darker seasons. Host a backyard bonfire with marshmallow roasting and spooky story telling.
  • Take the tricks and treats to those who can't get out themselves. Dress up with family and friends, load the goodie bags, and cast a heartwarming spell at a children's hospital ward, senior center, or assisted-living facility.

Ideas like these let you celebrate the season without giving your inner environmentalist the creeps! For more monstrously great ideas pay a disembodied virtual call on our good fiends at Green Halloween. photo: Paul Sapiano

Geoff the Inkslinger and his Dog

The Inkslinger has written about environmental issues for over 20 years and is a freelance writer for some of America's most iconoclastic companies and non-profits. His true loves include nature, music of the Americana/rock and roll variety, interior design, books, old things, good stories, pagan rituals, and his wife of 24 years, with whom he lives in an undisclosed chemical-free rural Vermont location along with his teenage daughter and two infinitely hilarious Australian shepherds!