Between costumes, candy holders, treat wrappers and plastic decorations, Halloween can quickly become a landfill’s worst nightmare. Multiply that by the number of kids you have, and you’re left with quite a bit of wasted junk on your conscience. Fortunately, just about anything you do can be done in a more ecologically responsible way, and it’s easy. Check out these tips to green your Halloween—and save some serious financial green in the process.


Consider hosting a costume swap day among a group of families. (Get how-to tips at Other ideas to go green and save green: recycle among your own family members; use an old karate or ballet outfit; break out the princess dress-up clothes. Google “Halloween costumes you can make at home for cheap” and start surfing. And don’t forget to check thrift stores and garage sales all year.

Trick or Treating

Grab that rechargeable or LED shake flashlight and head out the door. But don’t forget the decorated cloth bag you can reuse next year. An even cheaper route (and it’s space- and eco-friendly) is to go retro and use a pillowcase or go modern and use a cloth shopping bag. Take a separate bag to pick up trash as you follow your trick-or-treaters.


Just so we’re clear, I’m not of the camp that lumps eco-friendly with sugar-free. And even if you’re handing out healthy Halloween treats, chances are you’re still sending individually wrapped stuff into the world. Instead, consider handing out something that can be used or recycled. Ideas include pencils, erasers, quarters, crayons, juice boxes (recyclable cardboard), cool bandages, bookmarks or flower seed packets.


Instead of buying decorations that eat up batteries, consider strategically placing some hay bales in your yard or on your deck or front porch. Chrysanthemums, gourds, colorful corn, ghosts made of sheets stuffed with batting and scarecrows made of old clothes stuffed with hay are cheap and green choices. Nontoxic window paints are fun for kids to use on windows and doors. There are all kinds of Halloween crafts you can make out of materials you have around the house that can be saved for next year or recycled later. Crafts like bottle cap pumpkin magnets, tin can bat treat holders and an egg carton animal nose mask can also be a great activity at your Halloween party.


Speaking of decorations, pumpkins are the best decoration out there, and you can even grow your own if you have the space. Just toss a bunch of seeds in a large garden area, and you’ll have freebies for next year. Otherwise, take an educational trip to a local pumpkin patch so you support local farmers. Bake a pie and make sure you toast some pumpkin seeds, too.


After you send an Evite to the parents, start planning your green Halloween party. Instead of setting out individually wrapped treats, put carrots, orange slices and pretzels in bowls. Make sugar cookies in advance in cool Halloween shapes (bats, pumpkins and ghosts) and have guests frost and decorate them with orange and black frosting. Throw some newspaper on the table, break out the nontoxic paints and decorate some pumpkins.

Kerrie McLoughlin vows to someday fit into a Wonder Woman costume. Check her out at


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