Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: Green your Halloween with these eco-friendly tips

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Green your Halloween with these eco-friendly tips

Halloween is a favorite holiday for most kids, but it can be even better if your family takes steps to make your Halloween festivities just a little more green.

No, I don’t mean dressing up as Frankenstein or a dancing cucumber. I’m suggesting that you green up your Halloween by making it just a little more environmentally friendly with one of these easy tips.

Shop wisely

Halloween costumes have less plastic content than they used to, but they are still typically disposable, single-use items, often packaged in clear plastic bags. You can shop smarter. Look for sturdy costumes that will hold up well for play after Halloween, and reduce the plastic props and wigs that might not be necessary to complete the look.

Reuse costumes

My twins loved to play in their costumes all year long, and had a chest full of different outfits for dress up play. Now that they are older, their costumes have been passed down to their little sister, who seems to prefer being the Incredible Hulk over Cinderella.

Trade with friends

Hardly anyone wants to wear the same costume year after year, but some costumes are too great to only wear once. An awesome way to reuse costumes is to organize a swap with several other families. Someday, we’ll pass our costumes along to another family, probably one of the families in our local homeschool group, and hopefully they’ll be used and passed on over and over until they fall apart.

Even if you can't find enough families to do a swap, you can still borrow or trade costume elements with friends and family and put your own spin on a great costume someone else wore a year or two back.

Hit the thrift store

One of the best ideas I ever had was to set my twins loose in a Goodwill store and let them choose their own Halloween costumes. They’d had trouble deciding what to be that year, and a trip to the pop-up Halloween store didn’t help.

At Goodwill, my daughter found a prom dress and a tiara, which she used to design her custom "celebrity" costume, and my son found the makings of a great cowboy getup, all for less than $20. Not bad.

Use recyclables

A friend of mine made her son’s costume last year from a cardboard box and paints. He was a character from Minecraft, the popular blockhead-filled game practically everyone is playing. He wore regular clothes and the painted box for a mask, and he looked awesome. Better yet, virtually zero impact on the environment.

Avoid the plastic pumpkin

I love the sound of candy plunking in the orange plastic pumpkin carried by so many trick-or-treaters. But unless you already have one of these sitting around, they are a silly thing to buy. Skip the pumpkin and opt for a recycled sack or a pillowcase instead.

Treat bags made from recycled materials would also be a great crafting activity for kids who are old enough to learn how to sew. Consider this as a fun group activity before Halloween.

Skip trick-or-treating altogether

I grew up trick-or-treating, and I loved it. Really, I did. I looked forward to it all year, or at least from the day school started. But as candy prices skyrocket and fewer and fewer turn on their porch lights, trick-or-treating has lost a lot of its appeal. While I kind of mourn the loss of this tradition, I have to acknowledge that all the plastic generated by those individually wrapped miniature candies sure is wasteful.

Have a party instead

What’s better than trick-or-treating? A Halloween party! We’re going to at least two Halloween parties this year. One will be a community bash, with a hay ride and plenty of fun and treats. The other will be the annual Halloween party hosted by our local homeschool group, one of the most heavily attended events of the year for our group. Both events will be great opportunities for the kids to dress up in costume and have fun.

Avoid Happy Meals

From early October through Halloween, while supplies last, McDonald’s restaurants offer plastic buckets with their Happy Meals. Over the years, we threw away probably a dozen of these buckets before I started avoiding Happy Meals in October. If you can reuse them in a useful way, great, but I never did.

Donate extra candy

Instead of throwing away extra candy, along with all those wrappers, why not donate it to the troops or to senior citizens in a nursing home? At least that way, the candy gets eaten by folks who will enjoy it before the wrappers go in the trash. Check around your community or contact your local Blue Star Mothers to see how you can send candy to the troops.

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