Shrieks, gasps, shivers… And I’m not talking about reactions to the twists and turns of the general election or the teeter-tottering economy. It’s almost Halloween! And that means it’s time to scare up some fun. Every kid wants to be something other than himself for Halloween, so once again eco-conscious parents are forced to find that delicate balance between creepy for kids and eerie for the environment.

The truth is that for the same reason manufacturers shy away from incorporating organic or sustainable fabrics into the production of Halloween items (no one wants to pay a high price for costumed event that lasts only one-day), parents should make every effort to ensure that as they canvas the neighborhood for treats, their family’s carbon footprints are as small as possible.

Below are six ways to green this Halloween:

1) Use your long-range vision: By consulting with your small-sized superhero (or tiny terror) before dress up time draws near, you can brainstorm ways to fashion a costume from too-small clothing items – and boy do kids have a lot of those. Depending on age, he can be a lobster or a giant Lego man, while she can be a sweet little princess, or Spider… er woman. There are also tons of ideas for costumes made from recycled t-shirts or household items online.

2) Swap meets are always scary: Host a pre-Halloween costume swap. Last year’s Spidey can be this year’s Superman. Pirates and Princes can trade places. And even if a kid can’t find that perfect costume at the swap, he might be excited about a costume mash-up. Up in the sky! It’s green… And it’s red… And it’s metal… It’s Iron-Spider-Hulk!

3) Say Boo! to big box stores and shop local: Visit your neighborhood farmers market for Halloween staples such as apples, squash, pumpkins and even organic raw wool and yarn to embellish your homemade costume. Some larger markets anticipating the holiday, may even have special offer items such as organic sweets. And what’s scarier to kids than the sight of all those vegetables?

4) Allow some stuff to get sucked into a wormhole: Stash away reminders of this year’s trends until after Halloween. Wall-E gets swept under the sink, Star Wars figures get sucked into a wormhole and anything Batman gets temporarily banished. Instead try to encourage a costume that is created in your child’s mind, not just put there by clever marketing.

5) Placate the Monster Child: If your kid wont let you get away with any of the above, and he simply has to have that Joker costume with the recently bought smell of polyester felt, consider taking as best care of it on Halloween day as possible. On November 1st, donate it to a charitable organization that will gift it to a kid next holiday. This extends the life of your bought items and keeps them out of a landfills for the time being.

6) Challenge yourself: Need a little incentive to crank out a killer costume? There are various community contests – both local and Internet-based – available to enter your creation. Parenting magazines and craft websites host annual costume contests and most only require that you send in a photograph of your child.

Get crafty and help make this Halloween green.

(Photos from pt’s MAKECRAFTHALLOWEEN Flickr stream)