Living Green: Don’t Be Scared — Just Green Your Halloween

Greening your Hallo-ween doesn’t have to be scary.

By: Melissa Chaun

Greening your Hallo-ween doesn’t have to be scary. As the David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green reported several years ago, you’ve got options, whether it’s creating the perfect costume for yourself or the kids, or providing treasured treats.

First, the challenge should be to try to avoid plastics as much as possible, whether in your decorations or costumes, or, yes, even with those treats. Our world is full of plastics and many single-use items don’t necessarily end up in our landfills so much as in our oceans, contaminating our soils and ultimately killing wildlife. Now that’s scary.

With this in mind, try to avoid the perhaps tempting — i.e., colourful and cheap — plastic Halloween decorations, and have fun thinking of more sustainable options.


Besides pumpkins and gourds of various shapes, colours and with/without “warts,” there are a number of indoor and outdoor plants available at your local grocery store or nursery, such as orange pansies, chrysanthemums, gaillardia, kalanchoe and the ornamental pepper plants.

Whatever you decide, avoid the invasive Eurasian Physalis alkekengi (sometimes listed as P. franchetii) or Jack-o-lantern vine. Unfortunately, some stores continue to sell this plant (with a subtle warning label) but it’s better to avoid it altogether. They are invasive, spreading via underground rhizomes and by reseeding, so should neither be planted outside nor composted. Moreover, Chinese lantern plants are poisonous — mind your children and pets — and apparently subject to many plant diseases and insect pests.

You don’t have to wait until Christmas to have fun with decorations. Incorporating plant material into various arrangements can be eye-catching and satisfying for the creative streak in you. Think about using the colours of the season in wreaths, swags, garlands, window boxes, cornucopias and how about Halloween kissing balls?

For an overall glow, there are orange lightbulbs. (There’s orange cellophane too, named because it’s actually made from plant-based cellulose, not plastic.)

Consider yourself really crafty? is an excellent how-to website with countless fun ideas to explore with the little people in your life, such as ghost terraria and mummy jar lanterns. (Avoid plastics and Styrofoam, wherever possible, substituting with paper/fabric instead.)


Challenge yourself and your kids to repurpose something you already own. Some of the most creative costumes I’ve ever seen have been repurposed and handmade. It’s also fun to visit your local thrift store for inspiration. How about organizing or suggesting a costume swap/trade with friends and family? As well, you can always rent a costume.

Use non-toxic make-up and hair dye, especially on your children. Choose non-toxic options or you can create safe Halloween make-up with a recipe from (which provides lots of crafty ideas as well). You’ll need simple ingredients like vegetable glycerin (found at health food stores), cornstarch, and food colouring (there are plant-based options now).Bottom of Form


Buy bulk to cut down on excess packaging. Look for Fair Trade chocolate and organic candy. In addition to roasting pumpkin seeds to make a tasty nutritious treat, try turmeric-dusted popcorn from Vegetarian Times magazine. For the vegetarians and vegans out there, look for chewy candies made with vegetarian alternatives such as tapioca syrup, agar agar or fruit pectin.

Whatever you do this Halloween, challenge yourself to be more planet-friendly and have fun getting to know your neighbours by walking with your children as they trick or treat — not driving them to another neighbourhood.


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