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How to Have a Green Halloween

The month of October hits a soft spot for many fright fanatics as they dig their orange and purple decorations up from their mothball graves, begin planning a bewitching costume and stock up for every candy-lover’s favorite festivity: Halloween.

While sweets, ghostly garments and spooky paraphernalia are the building blocks for a successful night of tricks and treats, they can often result in every eco-friendly fan’s nightmare–a scary amount of unnecessary waste. Fear not! It’s entirely possible to eat, drink and be scary while still protecting the planet. Here are some simple, eco-conscious ways you can tweak your favorite Halloween traditions.

Chances are, your local Halloween retail outlet is brimming with disposable wall hangings, cheap plastic cauldrons and foam pumpkins. Instead of piling your basket high with baubles that probably won’t last more than one season, opt for decorations made from all-natural materials. Start at the farmer’s market; nab fall-themed ornamentation such as hay bales, corn bunches, gourds, cornstalks and–of course–real pumpkins. Search through your wardrobe for old, tattered clothing that could be made into a scarecrow, or repurpose cotton or linen sheets into ghastly ghosts that hang from your tree branches. If you do decide to buy your Halloween decor, ensure that your purchases are durable enough to last a few years.

Rather than dolling out fistfuls of sugary, bite-sized sweets, scour your local grocery story for organic or environmentally-friendly treats to feed the ghouls that ring your doorbell. Many companies even produce healthy, eco-friendly versions of popular, mainstream snacks! Look for items that are free of chemical colors and flavors. Alternatively, contemplate nixing the noshes altogether and handing out all-natural goodies such as seed packets to plant in the spring.

Half of the fun of Halloween is transforming yourself into someone or something else for the night through the use of a clever guise. Instead of buying another costume this year, try renting or borrowing one from family or friends–many people have a bin in the attic dedicated to witch hats and polyester pirate shirts. Take a look through your old clothing, too. Sometimes, staple pieces from past eras make the best authentic costumes; those old bellbottoms, groovy tops and bandanas may come in handy! For all of the ambitious costume creators out there, rummage through the house for recycled objects that can be repurposed into elaborate ensembles.

Call up your favorite party monsters and collaborate on a Halloween bash this season. While Dracula contributes decorations, Frankenstein can bring along some reusable dishes, cups and silverware. The more people that contribute to the soiree, the fewer items you need to purchase and dispose of afterward. Set out clearly labeled recycling bins and trash receptacles so your ghastly guests can dispose of their leftovers properly.

When the witches take flight and the ghosts board up their haunted houses for the year, wash and pack your costume for the donation pile, and make sure to turn your all-natural Halloween decor into compost. Gourds, pumpkin seeds and corn stalks can all be broken down to create an organic fertilizer.

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