Halloween can be an expensive and wasteful experience, so we wondered “what can be done to green your Halloween?” Thankfully, we had Ines Lopes, Green Team member and Faculty Assistant at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who researched the topic and compiled these six helpful tips to help you, your family, and your office enjoy a more eco-friendly, sustainable holiday without spooking Mother Nature!
1. Vintage, reused, DIY—oh my!
Instead of buying a pre-made costume, consider reusing or recycling costumes from previous years or even make your own from things you already have in the house. Mandy Farhoodi of FSS is keeping it classic and using an old bedsheet to dress up as a ghost. Browse thrift shops, flea markets or gather some inspiration from your own closet: an old prom dress, bowling shirt, or cowboy boots are all the beginnings of great costumes. There are many websites full of DIY ideas for you, children, and even pets. You can get started here.
Bonus tip: Masks and Facepaint— instead of a wasteful plastic or rubber face mask, try to choose face paint or make up without lead, that is cruelty free, and contains no harmful toxins. You can even make your own fake blood; there are various recipes on blogs and pinterest.
2. Get crafty
Decorating is one of the best parts of Halloween but also the most wasteful. As the second biggest decorating holiday of the year, many of the decorations are made from non-recyclable plastics. Use natural products like pumpkins and gourds to create an autumnal look. Old stockings can become spider webs, cardboard boxes become tombs. There are so many things you already have in your home that can be turned into ghoulish decorations.
3. Throw a green Halloween party
Throwing a green Halloween party will ensure you have fun without harmful effects to the environment. Start by sending electronic invites instead of paper. Use glassware and washable utensils or look for recyclable or compostable plates, cups and utensils rather than the kind that end up in the trash (Check out Susty Party, which sells compostable party products, and was started by a Harvard alum!) . Put out recycling bins for bottles and cans. Buy food for the party that is organic and locally grown, or head to your local farmers' market.
4. Purchase locally grown pumpkins
When you think of Halloween, you surely think of pumpkins. Lower your emissions by purchasing locally grown organic pumpkins. Remember to compost your pumpkins, save the seeds from carving for roasting them with a little oil and salt, or use the insides for delicious breads, pies, muffins, soups, and other recipes.
5. Choose organic, non-gmo candy
Buy candy made from natural ingredients, without artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Instead of candy, consider giving out things like pencils, temporary tattoos, or other fun treats. In addition to reducing the amount of garbage produced from those single-serve packages (which are not recyclable), you’ll provide a healthier alternative to sweets.
6. Go reusable
If you or your children plan on Trick-or-Treating, be sure to send children out with reusable buckets, pillow cases, or canvas bags. Rilda Kissel, a Green Team member in Degree Programs, will be helping her son fill his Cars pillowcase while trick-or-treating!