Green Your Halloween with Eight Spooky Tricks

Treat yourself and the environment this Halloween. These easy strategies reuse and recycle — while avoiding or minimizing toxins and waste.


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1. Bag the conventional candy. Choose fair-trade chocolate. It may cost more, but you’re not supporting slave labor or unfair labor practices. Visit Transfair USA for a list of companies. Yummy Earth offers organic candies.

2. Reverse trick-or-treat. A Global Exchange program lets kids give adults donated, fair-trade chocolate from Equal Exchange, La Siembra and Alter Eco Fair Trade to raise awareness of the cocoa industry’s unfair labor practices.

3. Green your costume. Buy costumes at thrift stores or get creative with stuff at home. Renting keeps new materials out of the waste stream. If you buy, choose natural fibers and nontoxic face paints. Try Sarah's Silks or Nova Natural Toys and Crafts.

4. Pick your own pumpkin. Visit local farms rather than buying one shipped many miles. Call to find farms that use no or minimal pesticides. Or find pumpkins at farmer’s markets. Compost pumpkin “guts” or bake them into a pie.

5. Bag it right. Avoid plastic by providing youngsters with sturdy, reusable cloth bags. Try The Tote Bags.

6. Decorate naturally. “For zero waste and low cost, choose décor that can be eaten or composted when Halloween is over. Display sweet pumpkins, gourds, apples and pears,” says Corey Colwell-Lipson, co-author of Celebrate Green! (The Green Year, 2008). Another fun option? Make your own decorations. Old sheets, newspaper, a string and a marker make for a fun hanging ghost. Stuff old clothes with newspaper or fabric to create a homemade scarecrow.

7. Party hearty. Use recycled and reusable dinnerware from Recycline. Send electronic invites.

8. Recycle wrappers. Donate candy wrappers to TerraCycle, which will recycle them into products such as messenger bags. For each wrapper, TerraCycle donates 2 cents to the nonprofit or school of your choice.

• Visit Green Halloween, Celebrate Green and Costume Idea Zone for more green tricks.

• Get five more tips for an eco-friendly Halloween.

• Search for fun costume ideas.