Who said Halloween has to be all orange and black? With a little do-it-yourself work and imagination, All Hallows' Eve can go green, too.
Like any holiday, Halloween offers an opportunity to go green without sacrificing an ounce of festive fun. Going green for Halloween is also a nice way to cut down on spending, as the average American is projected to spend over $75 toward the October 31st festivities.
With a bit of innovation, the staples of Halloween -- costumes, candy and trick-or-treating -- can all be redone with the environment in mind without sacrificing the spooky spirit of Halloween.
Also, check out our helpful infographic, Halloween: Recycled.
Plastic is perilous
Ready for a scary statistic? According to World Watch, Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags every year. Yes, that's billion with a "b," or in other words, 230 bags for every person in the U.S.
Avoiding plastic bags is the environmentally conscious choice whether it's Halloween or a regular trip to the grocery store, but trick-or-treating offers a chance to go plastic-free and show off your creativity. An old t-shirt can be upcycled into a trick-or-treating bag relatively easily, and not only will you child's candy bag stand out from the rest of the neighborhood's plastic bags, it'll hold more candy and be more durable.
For safety reasons, most houses that welcome trick-or-treaters make sure any candy that's given out is individually wrapped and sealed. Doing this makes sense to avoid contamination and tampering, but it isn't exactly eco-conscious. According to the EPA, over 30 percent of municipal solid waste in the U.S. comes in the form of packaging, including the fun-size candy wrappers for Halloween treats.
Unfortunately, candy wrappers are not as easily recyclable as other types of paper and plastic because they're comprised of mixed materials. This doesn't mean we should give up on recycling candy wrappers, though. Terracycle accepts shipments of approved candy wrappers to be recycled, including most of the fun-size wrappers handed out on Halloween. Other types of wrappers, like the foil from a Hershey's Kiss, can be recycled in a curbside bin along with other recyclables.
Frightening, yet frugal costuming
For many, the most appealing part of Halloween is the chance to be whomever -- or whatever -- you want for the day. One step in a Halloween store, however, and it's apparent that store-bought Halloween costumes aren't always cheap. They're also wasteful, as producing new costumes every year requires the use of resources and leads to increased carbon dioxide emissions.
It's estimated that the textile and apparel industry accounts for 10 percent of the world's entire carbon impact. To cut back on your carbon footprint this Halloween, check out a local thrift stores to build your costume or swap costumes with a friend.
If you're struggling for costume ideas, as many do, don't be afraid to look to a Halloween store for inspiration. This year, an estimated 32.8 percent of Americans will find their costume idea at a retail store. More often than not, it's possible to assemble a similar costume with thrift store items and things from around the home. This saves money and ups the creativity factor, which is a must if you're planning on entering a costume contest.
The National Retail Federation estimates Halloween spending will hit $6.9 billion dollars in 2013, which comes out to $75.03 per person. Assembling a do-it-yourself costume is an easy way to save money and resources this Halloween, while picking up packaging litter and turning a t-shirt into a candy bag represent environmental savings worth just as much as money, if not more.
Follow Mattias Wallander on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MattiasWall