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Halloween’s rustic origins have gradually morphed into a huge business of candy and costume-buying for both children and adults. How big? Well, experts project $6.9 billion dollars will be spent on the holiday for 2013—the fourth biggest U.S. holiday of all in terms of spending.
As anyone with children knows, Halloween candy most definitely does not go to waste, but things like plastic pumpkins for candy collecting, synthetic masks and costumes, and household Halloween decorations really don’t have much use by November 1st. In other words, a lot of that $6.9-billion-dollars-worth of goods will almost immediately go to waste once the holiday is over.
To help reduce some of that waste and increase the sustainability of the holiday, here are five ways to make this year a green Halloween:
1. Make Your Own Costume
Store-bought vinyl costumes and masks are about as environmentally unfriendly as you can get. Let’s face it, no one wears the same costume two years in a row, so these items are almost inevitably tossed in the trash after being used for about five or six hours. Dig deep into your closet to find some fun and outdated (for every day except Halloween) clothing you can fashion into something creative and clever. Thrift stores are another great resource for some truly crazy – and memorable – threads.
2. Organic Treats
It’s true, nobody wants to be known as the house that gives out the “good-for-you-but-boring” stuff like apples or granola bars (or heaven forbid toothbrushes, as neighborhood resident dentists always seem to do). Happily, you can almost always find an organic alternative to traditional goodie-bag favorites these days. Do your local kids a favor by providing a healthy, tasty treat instead of more of the same-old junk.
3. Walk, Don’t Drive
Sure, that affluent neighborhood two towns over where all the baseball stars and hedge fund managers live might give away the best candy, but is driving over there and then going through half a tank of gas as you creep up and down the streets really the right thing to do? Keep the car in the garage – where it will be safe from eggs, soap and other “tricks” – and keep things local by accompanying your tiny ghosts and goblins on foot in your own neighborhood.
4. Use Recycled, Not Disposable, Home Decorations
Some well-worn clothes stuffed with leaves make a great scarecrow and old sheets can be arranged around the yard to give the impression your house is being invaded by ghosts. Head into the back of the closet, down to the basement or up in the attic to find some items that with a little imagination can help turn your abode into a real haunted house.
5. Compost Your Jack-O’-Lantern
A jack-o’-lantern carved from a real pumpkin is certainly more green than some illuminated plastic thing from the drug store that plays “Monster Mash” whenever anyone comes within five feet, but pumpkins sent to a landfill will inevitably emit environmentally unfriendly methane gas. It’s much better to compost it, and help your own garden in the process.
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