This Halloween as you walk through your neighborhood after dark, flashlight in hand, think about what you are using to power that flashlight. If you have not yet made the switch to rechargeable batteries, you can recycle your old batteries at the Computer Coop (2807 Old Canton Rd., 601-981-6925). But now is the time to think about using rechargeable batteries for all of your portable electronic devices. They cost slightly more up front, but you can use them again and again, and you can find them at most stores where regular batteries are sold. Or if it is time to buy a new flashlight, consider high-efficiency LED flashlights, solar flashlights, or flashlights powered by cranking or shaking.
The paraffin wax candles you might find in the typical store can release noxious chemicals into the environment. This year, think about soy and beeswax candles as green alternatives, which often avoid using harsh chemicals, animal fats or petroleum ingredients. Beeswax candles also last longer and burn cleaner than typical candles. For the most environmentally friendly option, look for Mississippi-produced beeswax candles to help light your jack-o'-lanterns' faces.
Besides greening the candles inside your pumpkin, green your jack-o'-lantern by choosing an organic pumpkin grown in Mississippi from the Belhaven Market (904 E. Fortification St.). Save the seeds to toast and eat, rather than throwing them away. If you choose a small baking pumpkin, you can also save the pulp you carve out for baking. When Halloween is over, start a backyard compost pile with your used jack-o'-lanterns in order to reduce organic material in the landfill.
Ditch the store-bought costume made with synthetic materials and too many dyes, and make your own. With old clothes, props and other items you already have around the house, you can add a creative touch to your costume. If you have to buy costume-making materials, repurpose used items from local thrift stores. Get together with friends for a costume-making party or a costume exchange, where you trade your old costumes for something new to you. Costume rental is also an eco-friendly alternative.
If your costume needs face paint or makeup, this is a good opportunity to green up your cosmetics and hair products. Look for products without artificial colors or fragrances, petroleum byproducts or preservatives. Also, support companies that do not use lab animals to test their products.
Avoid buying new decorations this year. Instead, reuse decorations from years past and supplement with your own decorations created from materials around the house. Try a scarecrow made from old clothes stuffed with raked leaves. Or, go natural with decorations like pumpkins and fall plants. Most importantly, avoid the use of effects requiring electricity—lights, sounds, smoke.
It is hard to go green with Halloween candy, because almost everyone gives out individually wrapped candy for safety's sake. This goes against the environmentally sound principle of buying products using minimal packaging to reduce waste. You can make homemade treats for your Halloween party, neighborhood kids you know or for the break room at the office, but for most of your trick-or-treat guests, you will need to give out small pre-packaged treats. To make these treats more environmentally friendly, choose organic and fair-trade chocolates, candies without artificial colors and flavors, locally produced treats or healthier non-candy alternatives. Non-edible treats include coins, pencils made from sustainably forested wood or small homemade gifts.
Invite your Halloween guests without using paper or the postal service. Send waste-free online invitations or e-cards to your computer-savvy friends. For those who do not have e-mail, give them a phone call instead. If you must use paper invitations, choose products made from recycled materials or make your own cards with reused materials from around the house.
Green cosmetics and hair