|Dog/cow, copyright istolethetv (2008)|
The easiest way to wear an environmentally-friendly costume is to come up with the idea well in advance of October 31st, gather the items you need from the stuff in your home, and create the outfit yourself! This requires some planning but guarantees compliments if you pull it off well. For any materials you lack, browse your local thrift stores and garage sales to reuse what others no longer need. Kids can pass on their costumes to younger siblings, and throwing a costume trading party earlier in the fall is a good idea, too. Don't forget to donate your outfit to a charitable organization if you don't expect it will be worn again.
These days, it's pretty easy to find locally and sustainably grown pumpkins. After carving them, roast the seeds for a yummy snack! Once you no longer need their spooky faces (which you've been lighting with cleaner-burning, longer-lasting soy candles instead of paraffin/petroleum ones), make pies and cookies, and compost the scraps. As for the inedible type of decorations, as with costumes you can put your arts and crafts skills to good use and create your own from the items in your home. Not that creative? Consider renting decorations from a party supply store, or if you must buy, choose durable products that will last many years. Last but not least, if you hang up festive porch lights, choose LED over incandescent bulbs.
Pictured above is a great example of an earth- and health-conscious Hallowe'en treat: dried fruit in a recyclable container. I've also heard that apple sauce makes a great candy alternative, and those little plastic cups they come in are great for crafts. Generally speaking, look out for local, sustainable treats, although to be completely honest, I have no idea how sustainable or unsustainable chocolate bars are - just that they're pretty terrible for you. Try to choose products with as little packaging as possible, however keep in mind that food wrapped up in such a way that it may have been tampered with will be tossed out. Looking for something completely different? Give trick-or-treaters usable items, like pumpkin-shaped erasers! And remember to send the kids out with sturdy, reusable shopping bags or pillowcases, or those plastic jack-o-lanterns.
Have a happy, safe, and eco-friendly Hallowe'en!