Dear Umbra,

Every year my friends and I throw a big Halloween party, and I had the amazing idea of dressing up as Sarah Palin. Unfortunately, I just found out that’s currently the most popular costume in my city (and most likely the U.S.), so I’m thinking about tipping my hat to my love of the environment instead. Do you have any suggestions for a good eco-costume?

Seattle, Wash.

Dearest Hanna,

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I believe Halloween is a rich opportunity for altering popular discourse about environmentalists. I don’t need to describe to my dear readers any of the negative stereotypes of the environmentally concerned person. Halloween costumes on an ecological theme are an opportunity for eco-heads to represent themselves as informed, witty, and, if appropriate, hot. In other words, it’s time for the Grist readership to step forward.

Try something Gore-y.

By the way, do not succumb to the temptation to get your eco-message out through your child. Children’s Halloween costumes are sacrosanct, unless the child freely chooses to dress up as an oil-covered gannet. At Halloween events truly dedicated to the frightening, an adult “Downstream from DuPont” costume might be appropriate, but the same costume would only be rude at a children’s party.

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Adult eco-themed costumes must walk a fine line between depressing and funny — the eco-line we all walk every day, I know. The cleverest adult costumes are topical, cleanly executed, and have a touch of humor. I have baked up some sample ideas here, with input from a few of Grist’s keenest. Each is accompanied by a short, friendly sentence of explanation, but with hope that will be unnecessary at your party. Here are some undoubtedly dopey proposals; may you be stirred to greater heights:

Al Gore bitten by polar bear. Find Al Gore mask (eBay?) or pomade hair and add cardboard armature to chin area. Attach stuffed polar animal by mouth to humorous body area of your choosing.

CFL bulb. Wear shiny white body suit and electrify hair in some way (Bride of Frank wig?). Build CFL filament around yourself, using white foam tubes, stuffed white fabric/socks, or white balloons.

Prius owner. Dress in clean, tasteful clothing and walk around with contented air, holding Prius key casually at chin level (paint small matchbox black and write “Prius” in shiny letters or, if you have actual Prius, write “Prius” on key). Stuff pockets to overflowing with money saved on gas.

Landfill. Don dun clothing with the following attached by tape or thread: lots of garbage, toy bulldozer, seagulls, trash pickers, or, for international credit, houses.

Glacier in 2050. Carry glass of water.

The nation’s highways. Wear black, put yellow stripes down your middle. Add local humor with toy vehicles, signs, and figurines referencing specific transportation dilemma.

I leave the rest to you, dear readers. Add ideas of your own below, and if you do indeed end up with an eco-costume on the big night, please send in a report — or even better, a photo.


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