Healthy Halloween Decorations

We've scared up some eco-friendly ideas to make it a green Halloween

celebrate a green halloween with diy decorations
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Move over orange and black: Green's soaking up the limelight this Halloween. It may take a bit of planning, but unearthing earth—friendly ideas this season—without losing one shred of freaky fun—is easier than you think.

Windows and Walls
Before launching your DIY decorating projects, replace the toxic skeletons in your closet, such as plastics, glues, and paints, with healthy alternatives. Green building-supply stores, including ECO Supply Center, in Richmond, Virginia, and Bettencourt, its sister store in Brooklyn, New York, stock eco-friendly paints by AFM Safecoat that are either low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) or zero-VOC.

For the wee ones or those who are just kids at heart, Hearthsong has plenty of crafty products, such as nontoxic window paint and gel clings, party favors made of eco-friendly yarn and felt, and a mist-maker that does not use dry ice or chemicals.

Tabletop Decorations
Pack up the family and head out to a local farm, says KC Eisenberg, the founding interior designer of Ahimsa Design in Ronkonkoma, New York, a studio that specializes in creating eco-chic environments. (Visit Local Harvest to find a farm near you.) Choose an assortment of pumpkins, squashes, and gourds in appealing shapes and colors. At home, arrange the larger pumpkins, carved or uncarved, on the front porch to greet trick-or-treaters. If you do decide to carve a pumpkin, enter our pumpkin-carving contest.

Inside the house, place groups of three or four smaller gourds on side tables, bookshelves, and the coffee table. For a season-appropriate centerpiece, place a larger group of gourds of various sizes in the middle of the table, with the largest in the middle and the smaller ones around the sides. Place the grouping on a bed of dried leaves collected from the yard and integrate a few beeswax candles or tea lights in glass votives into the arrangement. Create the same kind of arrangement with apples. Buy a variety of colors and sizes for a more relaxed look or go for modern elegance by choosing just one variety. After Halloween, these decorations can be turned into soups, pies, and other autumnal delicacies.

Move over orange and black: Green's soaking up the limelight this Halloween. It may take a bit of planning, but unearthing earth—friendly ideas this season—without losing one shred of freaky fun—is easier than you think.

Windows and Walls
Before launching your DIY decorating projects, replace the toxic skeletons in your closet, such as plastics, glues, and paints, with healthy alternatives. Green building-supply stores, including ECO Supply Center, in Richmond, Virginia, and Bettencourt, its sister store in Brooklyn, New York, stock eco-friendly paints by AFM Safecoat that are either low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) or zero-VOC.

For the wee ones or those who are just kids at heart, Hearthsong has plenty of crafty products, such as nontoxic window paint and gel clings, party favors made of eco-friendly yarn and felt, and a mist-maker that does not use dry ice or chemicals.

Tabletop Decorations
Pack up the family and head out to a local farm, says KC Eisenberg, the founding interior designer of Ahimsa Design in Ronkonkoma, New York, a studio that specializes in creating eco-chic environments. (Visit Local Harvest to find a farm near you.) Choose an assortment of pumpkins, squashes, and gourds in appealing shapes and colors. At home, arrange the larger pumpkins, carved or uncarved, on the front porch to greet trick-or-treaters. If you do decide to carve a pumpkin, enter our pumpkin-carving contest.

Inside the house, place groups of three or four smaller gourds on side tables, bookshelves, and the coffee table. For a season-appropriate centerpiece, place a larger group of gourds of various sizes in the middle of the table, with the largest in the middle and the smaller ones around the sides. Place the grouping on a bed of dried leaves collected from the yard and integrate a few beeswax candles or tea lights in glass votives into the arrangement. Create the same kind of arrangement with apples. Buy a variety of colors and sizes for a more relaxed look or go for modern elegance by choosing just one variety. After Halloween, these decorations can be turned into soups, pies, and other autumnal delicacies.

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Exterior Decorations

 

Exterior Decorations

Instead of throwing out old clothes, says Eisenberg, use them to make a scarecrow. Take a shirt and pair of pants and stuff them with newspaper or plastic bags. (Just make sure they won't blow away!) Support the scarecrow with a broomstick pushed into the ground. For the head, glue spare buttons onto a brown paper bag to make eyes, a mouth, and ears and tie the bag onto the body. Top off your scary creation with an old hat.

To bring out the boo, says Eisenberg, spook houseguests with ghosts made from old, white sheets or holey socks. Cut the sheets into circles or ovals of various sizes. Place stuffing (such as newspaper, plastic bags, or leftover material from the sheets) in the center of each round to make the ghost's head and tie with ribbon or string. For a sock ghost, stuff one sock into the toe of another and tie with string. Then decorate your ghosts with old buttons, ribbons, and other forgotten items sourced from the back of your craft drawers. Hang the ghosts at varying lengths from the ceiling or stoop.

Use Forest Stewardship Council–certified lumber, which is derived from a responsibly managed source, sustainable plywood, or reclaimed/repurposed wood to make spooky build-your-own decorations, such as tombstones for the yard, says Paul Novack, director of sustainability for Green Depot, an environmentally friendly building-materials supplier. Novack also recommends using repurposed household items, such as old, rundown furniture, when creating a haunted house, and tin buckets for apple bobbing.

Lighting
Novack suggests setting the witchy mood with "eerie lighting that uses energy-efficient or compact fluorescent black lightbulbs." You can scare some up at Blacklight.com. Homeowners might also consider buying energy-saving LED (light-emitting diode) lights to illuminate the lawn for trick-or-treaters. "Energy Star–qualified LEDs provide a dazzling light display while saving money for you," says Karen Villeneuve, director of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's (NYSERDA) Residential Efficiency and Affordability Program (REAP). NYSERDA is a public-benefit corporation committed to helping New Yorkers find safe, economical, and efficient ways to solve the nation's energy and environmental problems.

"The LED bulb is made up of tiny light sources the size of the head of a pin, but what they lack in size, they make up for in brilliance," she says. "LEDs come in Halloween orange and black, as well as many other colors; are 90 percent more efficient; last ten times longer than incandescent light strings; and give off very little heat."

Got any green Halloween ideas of your own? Share them with other This Old House readers.
 
 

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