Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Green Halloween: Part 2 of 3

The great, local pumpkin. Take a tip from Cinderella and use a pumpkin from your 'hood -- if you can find one. Pumpkin shortages the past two years due to extreme weather made varieties from Australia and Italy popular (which entailed some hauntingly high fuel use for shipping), and some are pronouncing a shortage again this year. If you can, try to get a gourd from a nearby farm or farmers market, or find organic ones at the hippie store nearest you. And once you're done carvin' and cannin' and roastin', get to compostin' the ghost of lanterns past.

Trick or fair-trade treat. Nobody wants to be goblin high-fructose corn syrup, pesticides, or hormones. Thankfully, there's a plethora of alternatives, like fair-trade chocolate. Equal Exchange sells organic dark-chocolate minis, and Endangered Species chocolate which is not made from extinct animals comes in Halloween sizes and benefits "species, habitat, and humanity" by partnering with nonprofits. There's even fair-trade vegan chocolate minis. Other tasty options include organic candy, cocoa, and raisins, or Glee Gum, seeds (uber-seasonal!), and all-natural juice boxes. Or go inedible with stickers, seashells, Smencils, or coloring books.

Costume-benefit analysis. Whether you use thrift-store components or stuff you already have, DIY costumes are cheaper and lack the excess packaging of store-bought ones. As an added bonus, you can avoid freaky chemicals like lead in novelty teeth or the offgassing vinyl in masks; if you do get a mask, the Green Guide says it should smell like balloons (latex), not a shower curtain (vinyl). Community trading site Zwaggle is a free source of secondhand Halloween costumes; putting your used goods up for trade earns "Zoints" with which you can acquire others' costumes. Check out this slideshow for crazy recycled-costume ideas, or go punny as a cereal killer, black-eyed pea, or deviled egg. We're gonna go the ol' mermaid-killed-by-beach-pollution route -- keep an eye out for Umbra's eco-costume ideas, too.

Check back in soon for the final part in our three part eco-Halloween series.

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