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Don’t let reports of toxic chemicals in face paint and costumes frighten away your fun on Halloween. Follow these easy tips to make sure the only thing scaring you and your kids are ghosts and goblins!

Creative Costumes: Skip the store-bought plastic or vinyl costumes, especially masks. Vinyl may contain hormone-disrupting phthalates. Instead:

  • Opt for costumes made with cloth.
  • Buy used costumes from a local theater troupe or dance studio.
  • Visit thrift stores or yard sales. Old prom dresses are perfect for princesses, brides, or scarier variations thereof.
  • Try eBay—be sure to filter your search to include only pre-owned items.
  • Raid your own (or your dad’s) closet. A red flannel shirt is like the Swiss army knife of costumes, enabling you to choose from fisherman, lumberjack, construction worker, and more.
  • Reuse some otherwise less interesting household items for costumes:
    • Turn anything with a handle into a Grim Reaper scythe
    • Big cardboard boxes can become almost anything from a robot to life-size legos to a samurai warrior
    • Some old, unwanted clothes can be torn and redesigned into scary ghouls, superheroes, cartoon characters and more.

Makeup and Masks: Vinyl and other plastics are even worse when they cover your or your child’s face. Halloween makeup may contain heavy metals or ingredients linked to cancer and other health concerns. Instead:

  • Use face paint and pencils made from clay or other natural ingredients, such as Natural Earth Paint.
  • Make your own edible face paint with these recipes.
  • Make a paper mâché mask using an empty milk jug, strips of used paper, wheat flour, and water.

Carving Pumpkins: Don’t let all those good pumpkin guts go to waste!

  • Make a Halloween snack: Rinse the seeds, pat dry, and coat with a little oil, or melted butter, and salt. Spice them up with chili powder, curry, or another favorite. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 250 degrees. The seeds are a great source of magnesium, iron, and protein.
  • The pulp can be steamed for half an hour, then served similarly to squash or used as a base for soups, muffins, quick breads, and pies.
  • Feed the garden, too! Add your pumpkin to your garden compost bin instead of disposing of it in the trash. It’s easy to start if you don’t already compost: break up the pumpkin and layer it with raked-up leaves and other yard waste in an outdoor area. Keep moist and turn regularly. Learn more.

Trick or Treating: Ten percent of the products we tested contained levels of bromine consistent with brominated flame retardants, including two Disney-themed Trick-or-Treat bags. Leave potentially toxic bags and one-time use plastic buckets on the shelf.

  • Use old pillow cases or reusable shopping bags
  • Don’t buy plastic pumpkins
  • Decorate a paper grocery bag with construction paper
  • Oatmeal cylinders or ice cream cartons can transform into candy totes
  • Give out organic candy and snacks. If you can’t find organic candy locally, try

Decorations: Decorating for Halloween shouldn’t bring unnecessary toxics into your home. Vinyl wall stickers can contain regulated phthalates, such as the Disney Wall Art set we tested which contained 16% regulated phthalates.

  • Cut and paint egg cartons to make bats and spiders or use toilet paper rolls to create a whole host of characters, like witches, scarecrows, and mummies.
  • Stuff old clothes with leaves and place them outside. You can make a paper mâché face for it as well!
  • Use outdoor solar lanterns and old white sheets to create ghosts that seem to float in midair as they light up your walkway.
  • Reuse old decorations, preferably non-vinyl, from previous Halloweens.