Celebrate a 'Green' Halloween

Move over black and orange ... there's a new color popping for Halloween this year: Green.

Environmentally conscious people are interested in the best ways to celebrate Halloween in an earth-friendly way. Little changes can mean a world of good this season. Here's how to enjoy the spirit of trick-or-treating and other Halloween fun with an eco-friendly spin.

* Participate in a costume exchange. Chances are kids and adults have one or more Halloween costumes tucked in the closet from years passed. Instead of heading out and purchasing new costumes, organize a costume exchange with friends or family. This will save everyone money and natural resources.

* Save energy. What better time to dim the lights in the house and rely on candles or energy-saving LED accent lights? Create a spooky atmosphere and reduce the electric bill in the process.

* Eliminate the phantoms and vampires lurking. Phantom Load or Energy Vampires are terms used to describe appliances or other electronics that may be eating away at power even when they're off. Cell phone chargers, for example, continue to draw power even when the phone is disconnected. So remember to unplug any unused items.

* Give out non-food, green treats. Instead of mass-produced, heavily packaged candy, think about other treasures for children. Items such as modeling dough, acorn craft creatures, pencils and paper for drawing, stickers, handmade friendship bracelets, and glass craft beads all make good stand-ins for candy.

* Purchase fair trade chocolate. Look for candy manufacturers who practice fair trade policies. Cadbury, for example, now offers fair trade cocoa products.

* Make recycled costumes. Turn everyday items into a great costume. Aluminum foil, soda cans, paper towel rolls, and fabric scraps can be turned into an ideal costume. When done, put the items in recycling bins instead of the trash.

* Host a green party. To host a green Halloween party, purchase items that can be used beyond Halloween, so they don't end up in the trash come November 1. Here are some other ideas.

- Choose dishes and cups that are neutral in design.

- Consider hollowed-out pumpkins and gourds for serving vessels.

- Use electronic invitations instead of paper ones.

- Choose organically grown foods to serve at the party. Also, pick foods that are in season.

- Organize a party carpool to save on energy.

* Use cloth trick-or-treat bags. Instead of plastic bags that often end up in the garbage, use reusable bags for gathering treats. An old pillowcase works just as well, too.