Halloween is a typically wasteful holiday, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to reduce, reuse and recycle without skimping on spooks and tasty treats.

Conserving this HalloweenWith the last quarter of the calendar now upon us, the ritualistic display of holiday detritus has engulfed the shops and drugstores. Hoping to cash in on the long, lucrative holiday-themed winter months, cheaply made garbs sit individually packed with the intention of being used once, and then discarded. To be sure, today’s ways of celebrating All Saint’s Day shine as a great example of the most consumerist lifestyle. Think anyone could pull off a 100% reuse-driven holiday on October 31? Let’s consider the options. Don’t get me wrong, a strong infusion of cash is something that’s dearly needed into our still-limping economy, but from the new “green” perspective, the strong emphasis on purchasing new and copious amounts of the three necessary Halloween components — decorations, costumes and candy — serves as a surefire way to increase our rates of needlessly filling landfills. Take a close look at each entity to see how plausible a reuse option might be.

Costumes

No less than two months prior to All Hallow’s Eve, ghosts, goblins and several dozen Disney characters line specified aisles of the retailers we frequent. While many are still adjusting to the new school year, tons of money is spent putting itchy wigs and cheap material into plastics bags ultimately destined for the trashcan. The eco-friendly fix here is simple as well as bursting with age-old practicality. When purchasing or making a costume, try to end up with one that is durable and likeable enough to be worn time and again. Choosing a character or theme that never fades from the Halloween theme is ideal. Just think of how many generations of people have gone to parties or trick-or-treating as a vampire, witch or Frankenstein. A second option is put together a costume from articles of clothing one might already own, or could procure easily without having the need to throw them away come November 1. The Sarah Palin costume was a good example of this a few years back. All one needed was a pair of wide-rimmed reading glasses, a fashionable female suit of sorts, a bubbly persona and an archaic disillusioned view of the world.

Decorations

The spider webs, banners and black cat baskets that are omnipresent this time of year follow the same sustainable-minded solution as costumes: simply reuse items that were displayed the year prior. This might be the smallest revenue earning of the three categories, as many people have a few old boxes in the attic or basement holding such curiosities. Plastic pumpkins and ghoulish signs can simply be stored for the 11 months of the year they aren’t displayed around the house. Sure, a few new curiosities might be purchased from time to time as more singing skulls and mechanical zombie parts hit the market, but try not to replace the vast majority of decorations from one year to the next in hopes of achieving good eco-karma.

Candy

And now, the tricky issue: candy. Dare I suggest people keep their leftover and uneaten candy for an entire year? There are probably a number of health and safety professionals that would disagree. Perhaps the candy itself can’t be annually reused during such festivities, but the wrappers sure can. Some crafty person has created a colorful creation of spent candy wrappers that adds to the lexicon of fashion with these purses and handbags. And maybe the chocolates can’t exactly be saved from one Halloween and handed out the next, but instead of buying those little pumpkin buckets that some argue are no less than “toxic looking,” we all know a sturdy pillow case will suffice to collect goodies. Not to mention that they hold way more candy. With these green tricks we can all be sure that at least some of our candy-grabbing habits aren’t equally destructive to nature. All in all, it looks like a Halloween celebration could easily be very near eco-friendly. As always, the important factors are being aware of how to reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible. Try not to purchase items that were made halfway around the world and then loaded on carbon-belching ships just to end up being used for a few hours. And going back to the candy thing, I’ve always held a loose suspicion that candy corn is the only eco-friendly treat in that it’s already rock solid, nobody really likes it and it would probably be the only companion for cockroaches after a nuclear holocaust.