1) Costume Slostume: Remember when you were a kid and you trotted your one of a kind costume up and down your street? Maybe your mom spent weeks making a costume that looked exactly like a chicken. Or maybe you pieced it together yourself - out of your dress up box, your grandmother's closet, and some aluminum foil. The handmade costumes of our youth were not only more eco-friendly than the current rows of polyester Sponge Bob and Power Ranger costumes. They were more meaningful, too.
If handmade costumes don't ring your doorbell, though, you can still go green by reusing a costume (This very well may be my son's third year as Thomas the Train.), swapping one on the mothers' club board or with friends, or scouting out local thrift stores.
2) Green the Halls: Decorating for Halloween can be truly sustainable. Fall leaves gathered from sidewalks can grace tables. Colorful pumpkins, locally grown and hauled home from the farmers market, are transformed into pies, soups and muffins once autumn's holidays are memories. After several years of preschool, I'm stocked for life with Halloween art. Construction paper Frankensteins lounge over the mantel. Ghosts made from small footprints peer out the windows, accompanied by their friends, tissue paper candy corn and thumbprint pumpkin patches. Even the centerpiece of Halloween - the Jack O Lantern himself - is Mr. Eco. He's locally grown, stuffed with a clean burning, farmers' market beeswax candle and the result of some true quality time in both a field alongside the coast and on the kitchen floor with a sharp knife. In the end, all of Halloween's decorations end up in our stomachs, the compost bin or the art box.
3) The Not So Sweet Treats: Here's where Halloween gets a bit tricky for me. I have yet to find something truly "eco" to give the little goblins and ghosts who bang down my door on All Hallow's Eve. Last year, I blithely passed out candy bars only to later learn about the dark side of chocolate. Most chocolate is grown in the rainforest. It's ever-increasing demand has resulted in massive deforestation, dramatic pesticide use, and child labor. Fortunately, those bitter side effects can be ameliorated simply by choosing fair trade and organic varieties. Whole Foods carries some brands, as well as organic lollipops, and other varieties of fair or ethically traded chocolate can be found here and here. Organic raisins, fruit leather or similar healthy snacks that could subsequently be packed in a lunch are also great alternatives. If you want to skip sweets entirely, other treat options include handing out coins, pencils, soy crayons, stickers, tattoos, or others item that will not become landfill fodder.