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8 Ways to Have a Greener Halloween

The following post is from Katie of Kitchen Stewardship:

Eco-friendly Halloween Costumes
source: Kitchen Stewardship

Who says Halloween has to be orange and black?

Let’s make green the new black for October 31st and make sure our Halloween celebrations don’t make a dent in the environment the way all that sugar will impact our teeth.

Green Costumes

Rather than spending money on a brand new costume, the eco-friendly way to go is simply to buy used, borrow, trade, pass down, or make a costume from “found” materials.

You don’t have to force your kids to use only paper bags stapled together like I chose to do as a youngster. Believe me, that’s a particular problem when it rains.

Kids have the greatest imaginations if allowed some freedom to soar, so let your dear darlings “find” items and pieces of clothing in your house already and see what they can come up with. They may not win any costume party prizes, but their minds, the earth, and (bonus!) your pocketbook will be the better for it. (Duck, above, is a crib sheet, baseball cap, couch pillow, piece of felt and pipe cleaner.)

Green Face Paint

natural Halloween face paint
source: Kitchen Stewardship

Conventional Halloween face paint has to be riddled with artificial colors and probably lots of hormone-disrupting chemicals and other toxins, right?

I can’t say I’ve read the ingredients on a tube (they’re probably not even listed), but I just came across this natural Halloween makeup – it’s petroleum free, dye free, and lead free, if anyone is interested.

Green Crafts

If you have a chance to help plan your elementary child’s Halloween Party (er, fall harvest celebration?), suggest a fun activity using trash and recyclables to create monsters.

Kids can work in teams to build the largest, scariest, most creative, etc. monster, using cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, oatmeal canisters, plastic bags, and whatever else you can drum up.

Also, see if you can decrease the party waste by using as many non-disposable items as possible, or at least choosing paper over Styrofoam and plastic for plates and cups.

Green Pumpkins

How to make pumpkin seeds
source: Kitchen Stewardship

Waste not, want not. If you carve pumpkins, make sure you know how to make pumpkin seeds. Did you know “pepitas” (aka pumpkin seeds) are over $5/lb. in stores? No need to let those go to landfill.

If you’re not the carving type but prefer to paint your pumpkins, buy pie pumpkins and make use of the whole thing for healthy pumpkin muffins or grain-free pancakes.

Green Tricks

source: Kitchen Stewardship

Hopefully you won’t condone any “TP-ing” by your kids, whether they use easily biodegradable, unbleached toilet paper or not.

Rather than engage in any malicious trickery, what about “sneaking” some flower seeds into a neighbor’s garden? (Only do this if you know your neighbors and are willing to explain it to them come springtime.) You get the thrill of having a secret and the joy watching the flower come up to boot.

If you want to do something silly and a bit subversive with your kids, consider planting green as an orange and black trick.

Green Treats

Single serve packaging is kind of an earthy no-no, but in our day and age, you can’t really get away with offering homemade treats or something unpackaged to the ghouls who ring your doorbell.

Instead, consider fair trade chocolate (our health food store has small single bars for 19 cents each) or something locally made to reduce the carbon footprint of your treats.

For years, I’ve passed out small toys instead of candy. Although contributing to the landfill of “junk toys” in people’s houses may not be the most green thing to do, it avoids sugar entirely and ensures my husband and I don’t get stuck with the all-too-tempting “leftover Halloween candy.”

Green Trick-or-Treating

Walking to Trick-or-Treat
source: Kitchen Stewardship

Keep it simple. Make footprints on the sidewalk instead of a carbon footprint. Walk to trick-or-treat if you can, and if you have to drive somewhere, don’t leave the car running as kids dash in and out to knock on doors.

And this should go without saying, but make sure your kids don’t shed wrappers when they have a piece of candy. Bring an extra bag yourself and take the opportunity to demonstrate a lesson in environmental stewardship – pick up the trash other people drop on the sidewalk.

Green Clean-Up

how to take off Halloween makeup naturally
source: Kitchen Stewardship

Whether you get the natural makeup or just say, “It’s once a year,” and don’t fret too much about it, if you or your children wear face paint, getting it off can take as long as putting it on.

Particularly for the under-six crowd of little clowns and kittens, too much face scrubbing and harsh cleansers can really wreak havoc on their skin and attitude.

Your magic answer is already in your kitchen cupboard. Just about any oil will do the trick to naturally remove face paint or makeup (without tears!).

What do you do to keep the “green” in Halloween?

Katie Kimball has been “green” since 5th grade when she read 50 Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. She remains slightly disappointed that she didn’t actually save the whole thing back then, but now that she has 3 kiddos counting on her, she keeps plugging away hopefully. Katie blogs at Kitchen Stewardship about real food and natural living and is the author of Healthy Snacks to Go and other eBooks, available for Kindle.