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Written by Laura Li   
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Thursday, 25 October 2012

Green Halloween

Ding-Dong! Trick or treat! It’s the time of year when kids of all ages dress up and explore their creativity, while being rewarded with goodies. Although many people choose to order expensive costumes that will only be worn once, there are ways to reuse and “up-cycle” everyday clothing and items to create a one of a kind creation. Let’s make Halloween green!

BENEFITS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Processing and production of Halloween costumes that are bought in stores emit extra pollutants into the air. As with anything that is reused and repurposed, up-cycled costumes reduce waste sent to landfill and reduce the environmental costs of a brand new purchase. Even using regular clothing in a certain combination to make a costume is a greener way to celebrate this fun holiday. There are even costumes that can promote environmental awareness and sustainability!

Cost: Low, you should have everything you need already in your home! If you want to buy extra decorative items, your local arts and crafts store should provide you with enough. If the clothing you have at home isn’t sufficient for your creative needs, the Salvation Army or any local thrift store is a great resource to allow you to reuse and repurpose for a good price as well.

Time and Effort: Varies anywhere from low to high depending out what level of creativity and festivity you want to invest in your Halloween costume.

The Simplest Pleasures – Green Halloween for the Lazy Teen: Don’t have time to assemble an actual costume? No worries! Everyday clothing can be combined to be used as a costume. These easy costumes will eliminate the need to go out and purchase a costume that wastes natural resources and emits chemicals, just for an item that will most likely be worn only once.
  1. Are you a strong, muscular man? Or maybe you would like to dress up as one? Look no further than your local market for some Brawny® Paper Towels. This lumberjack figure can be replicated by wearing a simple plaid top with good ol’ worker boots. You should probably carry around a roll of paper towels for identification purposes.

    Brawny Paper Towe Man
    Brawny Paper Towel Man 1

  2. How about a superstore celebrity for the ladies? The Morton Salt® girl on the very popular salt brand is a quintessential icon present in almost every kitchen. One can replicate this easily with a yellow dress or loose blouse, yellow shoes, and a cute umbrella. Voilà! Instant icon.

    Morton Salt Girl
    Morton Salt Girl 2

  3. Who doesn’t want to be a god or goddess for a day? This costume has been pulled off by thousands of frat boys and sorority girls across the nation – the toga. Just take a white blanket/ bed sheet and wrap it around yourself, throw the excess cloth over one shoulder, then tie at the waste with either a rope or string, anything you can find at home. Remember to accessorize with gold that you already have (or girlfriend has).

For the More Crafty Green Halloweener
  1. Every gal has an old bridesmaids or prom dress lying around the house. Skip buying another clothing item you can only wear once and repurpose it into a Miss America3 costume! Just take any formal gown that is way too formal for your annual business party and add a sash. Instant pageant queen! Enjoy more crafty looks by clicking here!

  2. Feeling super-hot? Why not go as a bundle of hot peppers!4 Just go to the market and pick out your favorite and most vibrant peppers. String them into a necklace, belt, headdress, or even earrings and drape them on your body against black clothing so they can stand out. Not only are you going to be adorable, but you will also be well fed the next morning when you remove, wash, cook, and eat your costume! Zero waste! This isn’t limited to just peppers! Use any vibrant fruit of veggie that is not easily squished and enjoy it the next day as a post party snack

  3. Did you recently lose weight? Celebrate by becoming a jolly clown5! Just wear your old bigger clothes decorated with pom poms and colored markers to create a fun and festive look. You can appreciate how far you’ve gotten while still enjoying Halloween.

  4. This is not a specific idea, but get creative! Look inside your closet for things you may not need anymore. Instead of just tossing them, recreate your used items into a fun costume. A tan dress can easily be converted into a great Native American costume by adding some trimmings to the top and bottom. Your ex-boyfriend’s sweater would be a great canvas to splatter fake blood to become either a zombie or vampire. Just be creative!
Raise Awareness about Sustainability this Halloween! A great costume can be both handmade and promote the awareness of environmental issues! My favorite is the Pacific Gyre.6 As many people may know, the Pacific Gyre, also known as the Giant Garbage Patch , is a floating mass of garbage that is twice the size of Texas. It is a huge environmental problem and is caused by improper dumping, as well as plastic bags and other litter drifting into the ocean. The costume is simple. Collect some clean garbage (non-food items) a few weeks ahead of time. Just find a plain shirt that you probably don’t want anymore and paste/tape/sew on plastic bags, crushed cans, soda 6-pack rings, and anything else you collected. Make sure to tell people what you are when they ask you!

Trick Guests with Green Treats

  1. Before we discuss green treats, we need to make sure we are putting these treats into sustainable and responsible bags ! Old shopping bags and reusable bags are the way to go.

  2. Some great treats to give out are juice boxes, bags of nuts, and maybe a bag of fruits. Afraid to be the “lame” house on the block? Create your own caramel apple booth! You don’t need to buy a bazillion apples. Slice the apples and provide some caramel, tooth picks, and some sprinkles and other decorative candies. Allow the kids to decorate their own caramel apple slices!

    Caramel Apple Sticks 7

  3. Jack-o-lanterns8 are a Halloween tradition, but throwing away the insides for this craft is such a waste! Take the pumpkin insides and bake it into a cake. Don’t forget the seeds! Place them on a baking sheet and bake them in the oven sprinkled with some salt, or caramelize it and sprinkle some sugar over it. As for the designs, create some environmental awareness messages! Carve the silhouette of an endangered species, or maybe just carve the globe into the pumpkin to promote global health! For more ideas check out this previous Greeniacs Guide on Halloween ideas !
I hope these ideas can help you make a Green Halloween happen. It is important to celebrate the holidays we love, but it is even more important to save our planet in its time of need. These small steps to make your Halloween more sustainable will not only help the planet, but make your costume, or your house, a unique addition to your local community during this community-based holiday! Happy Halloween and I hope you use these Tricks to make your Treats greener!

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 25 October 2012 )


Green Facts

  • A steel mill using recycled scrap reduces related water pollution, air pollution, and mining wastes by about 70%.

  • In California homes, about 10% of energy usage is related to TVs, DVRs, cable and satellite boxes, and DVD players.

  • An aluminum can that is thrown away instead of recycled will still be a can 500 years from now!

  • Due to tiger poaching, habitat destruction, and other human-tiger conflicts, tigers now number around 3,200—a decrease in population by about 70% from 100 years ago.

  • Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial fleet of airplanes every 3 months

  • Recycling 1 million laptop computers can save the amount of energy used by 3,657 homes in the U.S. over the course of a year.

  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year.

  • It takes 6,000,000 trees to make 1 year's worth of tissues for the world.

  • You’ll save two pounds of carbon for every 20 glass bottles that you recycle.

  • American workers spend an average of 47 hours per year commuting through rush hour traffic. This adds up to 23 billion gallons of gas wasted in traffic each year.

  • Americans use 100 million tin and steel cans every day.

  • If every U.S. household turned the thermostat down by 10 degrees for seven hours each night during the cold months, and seven hours each weekday, it would prevent nearly gas emissions.

  • Nudge your thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter to prevent 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

  • A tree that provides a home with shade from the sun can reduce the energy required to run the air conditioner and save an additional 200 to 2,000 pounds of carbon over its lifetime.

  • Glass can be recycled over and over again without ever wearing down.

  • Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy used to make the material from scratch.

  • You will save 100 pounds of carbon for each incandescent bulb that you replace with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), over the life of the bulb.

  • Washing your clothes in cold or warm instead of hot water saves 500 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, and drying your clothes on a clothesline six months out of the year would save another 700 pounds.

  • Recycling for one year at Stanford University saved the equivalent of 33,913 trees and the need for 636 tons of iron ore, coal, and limestone.

  • 82 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from burning fossil fuels.

  • A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.

  • Current sea ice levels are at least 47% lower than they were in 1979.

  • Less than 1% of electricity in the United States is generated from solar power.

  • Refrigerators built in 1975 used 4 times more energy than current models.

  • Bamboo absorbs 35% more carbon dioxide than equivalent stands of trees.

  • Shaving 10 miles off of your weekly driving pattern can eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

  • Turning off the tap when brushing your teeth can save as much as 10 gallons a day per person.

  • A laptop consumes five times less electricity than a desktop computer.

  • States with bottle deposit laws have 35-40% less litter by volume.

  • Every week about 20 species of plants and animals become extinct.

  • You will save 300 pounds of carbon dioxide for every 10,000 miles you drive if you always keep your car’s tires fully inflated.

  • Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute.

  • Americans throw away more than 120 million cell phones each year, which contribute 60,000 tons of waste to landfills annually.

  • For every 38,000 bills consumers pay online instead of by mail, 5,058 pounds of greenhouse gases are avoided and two tons of trees are preserved.

  • Recycling 100 million cell phones can save enough energy to power 18,500 homes in the U.S. for a year.

  • In the United States, automobiles produce over 20 percent of total carbon emissions. Walk or bike and you'll save one pound of carbon for every mile you travel.

  • 77% of people who commute to work by car drive alone.

  • One recycled aluminum can will save enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours.

  • The World Health Organization estimates that 2 million people die prematurely worldwide every year due to air pollution.