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Happy Eco-Friendly Halloween

One of the best parts about this haunted holiday is that it can transform easily into an eco-friendly celebration all month long. Here's how to give your Halloween a green makeover this year.
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Apples, pumpkins, cozy scarves and the crunch of ruby and amber-colored leaves underfoot: fall is hands down my favorite season. Combine all this with loads of candy, spooky sights and the ability to act like a kid again--what could be better? I just love Halloween. And one of the best parts about this haunted holiday is that it can transform easily into an eco-friendly celebration all month long. Here's how to give your Halloween a green makeover this year:

Décor do's. There's no need to stock up on spooky plastic decorations this year; there are loads of ways to deck your Halloween halls that involve some creativity and just a little effort. Make a wreath of garlic bulbs, upcycled tombstones from unexpected supplies or pumpkin garland from leftover paper towel tubes. Get the 411 on these ideas and others from WebEcoist. And don't forget to stockpile pumpkins and gourds galore. For the busiest of us, these brightly-colored and fascinatingly-shaped squash add instant interest and pops of color inside or outside your home. Choose local and organic if you can, and next year, plan to grow your own bumper crop.

Smart, safe costumes. If you're selecting a costume for you or a child in your life, listen up. Resist the urge to buy cheap, premade costumes and supplies off the rack. In planning for mass distribution, many manufacturers use nonrecyclable petro-chemical based plastic and synthetic fibers. The same goes for items like face paint, makeup and fake blood. In a 2009 study, Campaign for Cosmetics found 10 out of 10 analyzed kits contained lead or other dangerous metals and chemicals. As a rule, homemade is best. Create costumes from clothing or items you have on hand, made from natural fibers. Look for makeup kits labeled "non-toxic and organic" or better yet, find an online tutorial and make your own. If you must shop, try thrift stores first to give preowned clothes a second life.

Party smart. When planning Halloween festivities, make sure all your choices are eco-friendly. Send digital invitations through a site like Evite and select organic candy with minimal packaging. For the rest of the delicacies, focus on whole, clean, organic black, orange, green and seasonal foods. Guests can enjoy organic warm apple cider (spiked with organic rum or not!), mini orange bell pepper and black olive pesto pizzas, air-popped popcorn, roasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin muffins. Want Halloween fun for kids without the candy craze? Gather neighbors and plan a progressive party where kids dress in costume and participate in a scary-fun activity at each home. Make scary masks out of recycled paper bags, host a skeleton assembly relay race and of course, bob for organic apples!

Clean green. If you've celebrated all you can and are lying on the couch in a candy coma, get moving to tackle the Halloween aftermath. Store Halloween specific items in reusable containers for next year and do a deep green cleaning to prepare for the holidays that lie ahead. Need help? Call a local green cleaning service to get you clean and get organized. Using earth-friendly cleaning practices and environmentally safe products will have your home in top shape for the rest of the season.

Enjoy décor all fall. Just because the spooky season has passed is no reason to toss decorations. Instead, think of ways to repurpose Halloween décor to last through the Thanksgiving season. Cornstalks and hay bales transition perfectly to the Thanksgiving landscape, as long as Halloween-specific adornments make their way to storage containers for next year. Non-carved pumpkins do darn good double duty when painted with a sparkly gold or bronze ecofriendly paint, like those offered by Modern Masters. Use them indoors or out for a little Thanksgiving bling on end tables or in a centerpiece. Or, carve up your organic pumpkins, roast the seeds and save the pulp for breads, muffins, even pastas. For pumpkins you can't reuse, add them to your compost pile instead of your garbage can.

Talk to us: What eco-friendly tips do you have for celebrating Halloween?