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October 31, once known as All Hallows Eve, is now a $5 billion enterprise called “Halloween.” As the holiday draws nearer, visit the neighborhoods after dark and discover an assortment of twinkling orange and black lights and inflated witches, monsters and ghosts. Lawns will be decked with faux grave stones, huge spider webs and perhaps a skeleton or two.

“Consumers see Halloween as a seasonal celebration to bridge the gap between the end of summer and the winter holidays,” said Tracy Mullin, president and CEO (in 2006) of the National Retail Federation. “Halloween offers a little something for everyone and people of all ages will join in the fun.”

The ‘spooktacular’ event maintains its spot as the second-biggest decorating holiday of the year after Christmas. A 2006 study by BIGresearch showed that decorations continue as a strong category, as 67.0 percent of consumers planned to purchase Halloween décor
and almost half (48.6 percent) planned to decorate their homes or yards. Most people surveyed (95.7 percent) scooped up plenty of candy – the average consumer spending $18.72. Costumes also increased in popularity; consumers spent an average of $21.57 to dress up.

How does one go about adding green elements to this increasingly popular holiday? Starting with the decorations, long-lasting, energy-efficient Halloween lights are a great way to create a spooky, yet safe, environment. To light the way for trick-or-treaters, create an eerie backyard haunted house or cast a spooky glow over a costume party, the local Target (2209 Howard St.) sells strings of LED lights featuring pumpkins and skulls and spiders … oh my!

With many families’ budgets stretched to the limit, it seems unnecessary to spend money on new Halloween decorations and costumes when a community can organize a neighborhood costume swap for both kids’ and adults’ outfits. The swap can also include decorations (indoor and outdoor). Members of FreecycleEvanston can request or offer gently used costumes, wigs and accessories.

DIYers can make scary, trendy or silly costumes from clothing and other items found in their own homes. Just be sure to leave room for the wearer to see and breathe clearly.

Now on to the task of providing green treats to the little ghosts, goblins and princesses who show up at the door. A good start is awareness of where candy-makers are sourcing their ingredients. Look for the words “Fair Trade” and be assured that no child-trafficking was involved to harvest the cocoa beans used to make the chocolate.

Equal Exchange (http://shop.equalexchange.com) produces organic and fairly traded chocolate bars that can be ordered online. Locally, the small-sized bars can be found at Ten Thousand Villages, 719 Main St. (847-733-8258).

The Global Exchange’s online store (www.globalexchangestore.org) sells a first-of-its-kind “Fair Trade Trick-or-Treat Kit” that has everything needed to make Halloween something special. The kit includes a 40-piece supply of mini fair-trade chocolate bars, festive postcards to hand out and a 100 percent-recycled-paper Trick-or-Treat bag.

YummyEarth (www.yummyearth.com) another online retailer, makes organic lollipops and candy drops with no chemical colors, artificial flavors or corn syrup. This brand might be found locally at a Whole Foods Market or a Toys R Us, but phoning the store ahead is highly recommended.

NaturalCandyStore.com (www.naturalcandystore.com) carries an extensive selection of organic candies, including an assortment of Halloween-themed lollipops. This family-owned business is run by a mother and her two daughters.

With LED lights and recycled costumes to fair-trade and organic candy, here are all the resources needed for a green Halloween.

E-mail Eco Gal at ecogla247@yahoo.com or read her blog at http:..askecogal.blogspot.com.