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Go Green This Halloween!

Stores across the country this week will likely be filled with frantic folks snapping up whatever is left of the Halloween costumes and accessories for the upcoming holiday.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) projects that in 2013, Americans will spend $2.6 billion on Halloween costumes for adults, children, and pets. Total spending, including candy and decorations, is expected to reach $6.9 billion! In the NRF survey, the average consumer anticipated shelling out $75 for the holiday.

While I was once one of these consumers, now I like to keep things simple. There are lots of ways to celebrate that don’t involve devoting hours in front of a sewing machine or parting with significant amounts of cash.

Costume Swaps and More

National Costume Swap Day provides the opportunity for communities to gather and trade costumes and outfits, not buy new ones. Held this year on October 12, the event brought together people in more than 30 states around the country. Worried you’ve missed out? Not to fret: the online events guide lists additional swaps scheduled to take place between now and Halloween in California, Illinois, Ohio, and more (or, you can organize your own!).

If you can't find a costume swap in your area, check out local thrift stores or consignment shops for low-cost, gently used costumes, or for clothing and accessories that you can adapt creatively to make your own.

Green Halloween

Started in 2007 by Corey Colwell-Lipson, Green Halloween has grown from a small movement in a few Belleview, Washington, neighborhoods to a national partnership with Green America.

Colwell-Lipson shares that her reason for starting the organization stemmed from a personal experience taking her two children trick-or-treating, and their excitement at receiving non-candy treats like bubbles and stickers. This led her to begin thinking about a way to make it easier for parents to move away from doling out candy and to give more Earth-friendly treats and treasures. The "treasures," which often last much longer than any candy, can be recycled, natural, or sustainably sourced—ranging from polished stones to colorful seashells.

This year, 64 zoos and aquariums across the country have teamed up with Green Halloween to distribute more than a million units of healthier, greener treats, replacing conventional candy with energy bars and eco-friendly crafts at events from coast to coast.

You can also join Green Halloween for a Twitter party on Tuesday, October 22 by following them @GreenHalloween. The party will be an opportunity to share tips and advice on ways to maximize the fun while still being green. 

If you’re connected to a school in your neighborhood, check out Green Halloween's special website section for schools, which offers tips and tricks for teachers as well as contests and activities for kids.

Go Natural

You’ll find additional inspiration at The Daily Green, where there’s a good list of top 10 ways to go green at Halloween. The list includes information on where to get reusable Halloween bags and how to decorate your home with natural flourishes from your own yard or local farmers market.

Most of all, don’t forget to save everything that’s non-perishable for next year!

Anna Awimbo is the Collaborative Communities Program Director with the Center for a New American Dream.

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