How to have a green Halloween

You probably don't have any king vultures in your backyard, but the birds that do come will enjoy eating your leftover Halloween pumpkin – and that will keep it out of a landfill.

If you'd like Halloween's dominant color to be green instead of orange, here are some tips for how you and your family can celebrate the holiday with the environment in mind:

Reuse materials from thrift stores or yard sale to make costumes, instead of buying them, suggests Larry West, who covers environmental issues at

Blythe Copeland at Planet Green shares creative costume hints with "Top Homemade Halloween Costumes for the DIY-Impaired." How about turning a black pillowcase into Pac Mac with just a red marker?

Elizabeth Seward also presents some excellent budget-friendly costume ideas in "Make Your Own Cheaper, Better Halloween Costume."

Or, host a costume exchange with other families and recycle previous years' garb, recommends Green Halloween.

Save the seeds when you carve the jack- o'-lantern and roast them for a treat, says Mr. West. Then add the pumpkin to the compost pile to break down and improve the garden soil in which to grow next year's jack-o'-lanterns.

Protecting our Environment notes that if you don't have a compost pile – or don't like pumpkin seeds – you can put the jack-o'-lantern outside for the squirrels and birds and add the seeds to the bird feeder (after you've cleaned and dried them).

Sometimes you read about turning a jack-o'-lantern into a pie, but the best pie pumpkins are small ones, not the giants that are best for decorations. Also, a jack-o'-lantern isn't going to be edible if it's been cut days ahead or had a lighted candle inside.

It makes sense to look for organic treats, Fair Trade chocolate bars, and candy that doesn't have excess packaging, but you probably won't win any popularity contests if you hand out recyclable toothbrushes, as Umbra mentions.

She also advocates giving away "things that you own and are ready to get rid of, like CDs, books, jewelry, trophies, trinkets, and the like. Put them in a treasure chest of your own devising and let the children choose one item each."

Change the emphasis from getting to giving, suggests Grist. Have your kids feel good about themselves and help others by trick-or-treating for UNICEF.

Or have your youngsters ask people for their old cellphones, says Grist. Recycling cellphones helps get women and families get out of poverty through the Women's Funding Network.

Protecting our Environment recommends sending the kids out with reusable or recyclable treat bags -- pillow cases, for instance, or cloth shopping bags.

With these ideas, your holiday can be both fun and environmentally friendly.

Editor’s note: For more articles about the environment, see the Monitor’s main environment page, which offers information on many environment topics. Also, check out our Bright Green blog archive and our RSS feed. Or become a Twitter follower.

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