Halloween week is here and if you have kids, no doubt they have been talking about, “What they're going to be.” Halloween is often ranked number one as kids' favorite holiday. Nothing seems to be more fun than to dress up as a favorite character, super hero, or something terribly frightful.

There is also a lot of waste that comes with Halloween. One thing I have never understood is how so many people can spend so much money on a flimsy little covering that ties over their kid's clothing, strap on a plastic mask with an elastic string that pinches all night and call it a costume. At the end of the night, it all goes in the trashcan!

I was recently at several stores in our area and wandered through the Halloween aisles. I could not believe how commercialized Halloween has become.

You can make Halloween a whole lot more green, spend a lot less money, and have a lot more fun doing it, too! Instead of purchasing the flimsy costumes, talk with your kids about what they want to be. Figure out how you can make that costume come to life. If you can sew, great! There are some wonderful patterns and fabrics. When my kids were very young, I made their costumes out of the Halloween flannels, so their tiger, bear, and other costumes could double as snuggly pajamas. My kids loved wearing these costumes to bed all winter long!

If you cannot sew, no sweat, visit your local thrift store and discover how a billowy shirt would be perfect for a pirate, Romeo, or even for a prince! When my kids got a little older, we always hit the thrift stores; that really aided in our character enhancement projects. A long black dress made the perfect witch or warlock gown. A plaid shirt and overalls became the base for a scarecrow.

Kids have a lot more fun if they can use their imaginations and be creative with the pieces and parts they can put together for their costume. I think you will have more fun, too. Helping put together these creative costumes that cost a fraction of the flimsy tie-on ones can soon become a family affair.

The best part is that costumes pieced together from items at a thrift store are recycled and help another organization, as well. Most likely, you can find the finishing accessories in your closet, drawers, or around the house.

Don't forget to sit down and make a plan of what you need before you go on the hunt, saving time and money. The important part is you're doing it with your kids and spending time together.

Halloween is a memorable holiday for kids of all ages, but it doesn't have to be wasteful. With a little careful planning, you can save money and resources. Happy HalloGREEN!

Lynn Youngblood is the Executive Director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City, Missouri; a certified Residential Energy Client Service Coordinator by the National Energy Retrofit Institute; and a past nature center manager for 20 years, including over 17-years with the Missouri Department of Conservation.