Liz Swafford: Making Halloween ‘eek-o-friendly’

October 22, 2014 Posted by admin

Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 11:25 pm

Liz Swafford: Making Halloween ‘eek-o-friendly’

By Liz Swafford

Nestled in the chilled embrace of the autumn air is the imagination of the Halloween season. As the leaves turn gold, red and brown, corn mazes, pumpkin patches and haunted ghosts tours are bustling with activity in anticipation of the holiday. People of all ages dream up a creative costumes to wear to parties or creepy home décor to startle their guests. Yet not all is well in this season of fright — it’s one of the most expensive, unhealthy and wasteful holidays we celebrate. Help make it less frightful by implementing healthier and greener practices to transform this holiday into one that is much more eek-o-friendly.

Costumes are a must have to participate in the creepy celebrations. Individuals may spend hundreds of dollars just to get the right look for a party or event. Yet, just like a prom dress, a costume typically only gets worn once. To make better use of costumes set up a swap meet with family and friends about a week or two before Halloween. Children and adults can trade costumes and get something to wear that is new to them. Get tips to organize a swap from the National Costume Swap day website:

Choose organic, healthy and fair-trade treats to give the little monsters visiting your door. When shopping for candy to give visitors look for those that are labeled as natural, organic and use fewer preservatives. A variety of fair-trade chocolates and sweets made with pure cane sugar and natural fruit juice are usually found in the natural foods or organic section of the grocery store.

Non-traditional treats you can include are organic dried fruits, popcorn packets and granola bars. If you want to stay away from food items all together you can give treats like Halloween-themed hair clips, seed packets, erasers, recycled newspaper pencils, stickers, soy based crayons or pretty stones. Giving non-food items may be a welcomed change for kids that have food allergies.

Many Halloween decorations are made with plastic materials that are not recyclable in our community. Avoid artificial materials and decorate your home with biodegradable items such as pumpkins, gourds and cornhusks. You don’t have to limit your color scheme to green and orange; however, if you use natural products such as the lumina pumpkin distinguished by its pale, white skin. In outdoor areas straw bales can add height and help create a focal point. After the holiday you can place the items in your compost pile or use them in to make some autumn favorites like roasted pumpkin seeds.

Use vintage clothes, worn bed sheets and miss-matched accessories as the base for new costumes. Bend old wire hangers into the shape of wings for angels and fairies. Skip plastics masks and use non-toxic makeup to complete the look you want. A costume prop such as a doctor’s bag or a diva’s glittery purse can be a creative way to collect some treats while staying in character.

Host an eco-friendly holiday party the easy way by providing guests with clearly labeled recycling bins and trash bins. Avoid disposables such as single-use napkins, plates and cups if possible. If not, use disposable items that are made from recycled materials or are compostable. Before and after the party, clean using green cleaning products you can make at home or commercial cleaners made with fewer chemicals.

Craft spooky decorations from the items piled in your recycling bin or storage areas. An entertaining craft is the milk jug monster that can be used as a decorative center piece or treat bowl. To get started you’ll need a clean milk jug, small knife or kitchen scissors, a marker, paint, and if desired, craft tape, scrap papers, glitter and other decorative items. Using a marker, draw the mouth for your monster on the side of the jug opposite the handle. Carefully cut out the opening using a small knife or strong scissors.

Once you’ve decided what kind of monster you’ll make, paint the jug and let it dry. A green monster would make a good Frankenstein, while a jug painted orange could be a jack-o-lantern. If you don’t want to paint the jug, you can always glue on scraps of paper. Decorate your monster by cutting out and gluing on eyes, fangs, horns, feet and claws. By creatively reusing materials you’re keeping your celebrations more “eek-o-friendly.”

Liz Swafford is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Have questions about recycling in Whitfield County? Call (706) 278-5001 or email

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014 11:25 pm.

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