Going Green on Halloween

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COLUMBIA - On Halloween the only things to fear are small witches, ghosts, and miniature Incredible Hulks roaming the streets. But after the holiday is over, there's something even scarier, environmental concerns.

Many of us will put away our costumes, that in many cases, will just sit and collect dust before eventually being thrown away. But there's a way to avoid pricey costumes that won't be worn again and take up space in your closet. Instead of buying a costume, why not rent it. There are more than 1700 costume stores throughout the United States, like Gotcha! in downtown Columbia, which offers customers access to hundreds of costumes ranging from the typical cowboy and indian get-ups to enormous bird disguises.

Ashley Jessipe says she's opting to rent a costume this year because of what she wants to dress up as: an ewok from the film series Star Wars. "Obviously, I don't have one of these lying around my house," Jessipe said.

Gotcha! manager Aaro Froese said he believes renting costumes is popular because it's more affordable than actually buying one, and it allows customers to pick and choose what they need. "People come into the store with an idea of what they want to be, and we try to make that vision come to life. It could be anything - say they want to wear vampire fangs and a flapper dress. Well, now they're a flappire. It's great," Froese said. Froese said between five hundred and one thousand costumes are rented each Halloween.

After trick-or-treating is over, there are other ways to help the environment, by properly disposing of your pumpkin or jack-o-lantern.

Instead of just tossing it in the trash, there are a few things you can do with a leftover pumpkin.

- Scoop out the seeds, rinse them and bake them in the oven.

- Puree the fleshy insides and freeze them to make pumpkin-based recipes for the next few months.

- Bury the remaining pumpkin core and stem in the ground. It will decompose and enrich the soil.