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Ready for a Fun, Healthy and Green Halloween?

Halloween is just around the corner, which means department stores are bursting with fun-sized candy, costumes and elaborate décor. Parties are filling up the calendar. But if you’ve committed to living more sustainably, this holiday might make you want to turn off your lights and opt out altogether. This year, why not look for some fun alternatives to make Halloween a little greener?

Shop for locally-grown pumpkins for this year’s jack-o-lantern. You can even take a trip to a pumpkin patch with the family to pick out your own. Skip the can–your favorite pumpkin recipes will be even better with fresh pumpkin too, and roasted seeds make a tasty snack. You can also use pumpkins, along with gourds, hay bales and fall leaves as seasonal decoration.

Get creative with dressing up. Cardboard boxes, old clothes and craft supplies can be used to create unique costumes. Check out area thrift stores, Freecycle and costume swaps as free or inexpensive alternatives to traditional department stores.

Trick-or-treating poses challenges like sugary candy, individual packaging, plastic bags for toting treats and safety concerns. Many communities are cutting back on trick-or-treating in favor of parties. Organize a neighborhood or school party with sustainability in mind. Volunteers can bring in reusable plates, cloth napkins and homemade snacks in order to save money, reduce waste and cut back on unhealthy treats.

If you do plan to give out treats Halloween night, opt for healthier choices for trick-or-treaters. Passing out apple cider, hot chocolate or juice is a nice change from candy, but it’s a good idea to get to know the parents in the neighborhood before handing out homemade food and beverages. Also, you can offer treasures instead of treats: yo-yos, crayons, puzzle books or coloring books, pencils and erasers will last longer than candy.

Some parents are also using Halloween as an opportunity to teach kids about children’s servicesfair trade, and other causes.

How are you going green this Halloween?