Halloween is only a little more than a week away. If you haven’t decorated yet, it is crunch time.
I’m often a last-minute Halloween decorator because it seems like Halloween always “sneaks up” on me, so to speak. But I don’t want my house to be unfestive when the trick-or-treaters come.
This year I’ve gotten a little ahead of the game and tried to find some eco-friendly ways to decorate.
The first and possibly best way to make your house spooky but environmentally friendly at the same time is to decorate with organic materials and avoid buying any of the cheap plastic props that show up in all the stores this time of year.
Crops that are currently in season and are great for decorating with. You can pick up all sorts of pumpkins, squash, hay bales and dried corn at local grocery stores or even many local farms.
Once you’ve got your organic decorations, there are countless ways to arrange them. Have some fun with it and hold a family competition to see who can arrange the decorations most attractively.
You can also add in fall-blooming flowers like mums. Mums come in all sorts of appropriate halloween colors, from dark red and purple to bright orange and yellow. They go well with any fall-themed or halloween decorations.
There are two different main ways you can go when decorating during this time of year — you can decorate with a fall theme and avoid the ghosts and bats, or focus your decorations on Halloween creatures and lore — witches, grave stones, cobwebs, etc.
I like to go somewhere in the middle, with a nice fall theme plus a couple jack-o-lanterns. That way, because I can be kind of lazy about changing my decorations, I don’t feel bad when the same decorations are still up at Thanksgiving.
Instead of buying plastic buckets or bags for trick-or-treating, repurpose an old pillowcase. If it’s a pillowcase you don’t need anymore, you can even let your kids decorate it.
You can also use plastic bags from the grocery store for trick-or-treat bags before you recycle them.
Candy is a huge part of halloween. Last year, we spent more than $2.3 billion on Halloween candy in the U.S. Candy is delicious and Halloween wouldn’t be the same without it, but you should be a smart environmental shopper when it comes to candy.
Instead of buying candy wrapped in plastic, look for paper-wrapped candy or candy that’s not individually wrapped.
You should also check the labels on the candy and sweets you buy at Halloween (and throughout the year). Lots of candy contains palm oil, a crop grown primarily in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Palm oil is a very versatile oil found in many different foods. Palm oil itself is not necessarily environmentally unfriendly, but the way we produce it is often extremely harmful.
In many cases, valuable rainforest land is being destroyed to make space for more palm oil plantations, driving orangutans and other endangered animals from their natural habitats.
Without enough habitat, these animals are having a harder and harder time surviving.
Not all palm oil is harmful to animals’ natural habitats — some companies have made sure that the palm oil they are using is grown in sustainable ways without destroying rainforest habitats.
It’s usually not clear from the labels which candy is made with sustainable palm oil and which is not.
You can find a list of candies made with sustainable palm oil by visiting http://bit.ly/SafeHalloweenCandy. Use this list when buying your Halloween candy to make sure your kids can have candy while animals can keep their homes.