Our sainted mother was many things, but a spendthrift she was not, especially when it came to Halloween costumes for her kids.

One year, she painstakingly sewed little devil costumes for all three of her boys, only to have her handywork undone by the Ohio weather, which necessitated that we don heavy winter coats over her red satin masterpieces.

After that, it was pretty much whatever could be thrown together on the cheap and on the fly.

There were ghosts (old bedsheets), hobos (old clothes and charcoal smudges on the face), pirates (like the hobo, but with eyepatch and  bandana) and army guy (dad’s fatigues).

One year though we begged for something that might actually place in the school costume contest.

She went to the garage and picked out an old moving box. She cut out holes for our arms and neck and then painted it black.

Then she stenciled on a block letter epitaph:

Here lies a cowboy/Strong and tough/He shot fast/But not fast enough

She added birth and death years from the 1800s, stapled a few weeds onto the sides and voila, we went as a tombstone for Halloween.

Won first place in both our neighborhood contest and the school contest, which sadly was the pinnacle of our academic achievement.

Little did we know, but Mom’s recycling effort was probably our first green Halloween costume.

Too bad she couldn’t be here to see it become all the rage.

Our friends at The Daily Green have a whole slide show with recycled costume ideas. Some are pretty novel,  like the Babyman above. And most, like the batwings made from from broken umbrellas, aren’t nearly as elaborate. Others though, like the two samurai costumes, look like they could run into some time. And we’re not really sure how green one of those is, given that it requires you to cut up several perfectly good Rubbermaid trash cans.

A lot of other sites have cool stuff too. In fact, there’s a whole website called greenhalloween.org, and Treehugger.com has some pretty useful tips as well. And this site suggests that you go as Mother Nature, with a white gown, a flower necklace and a garland in your hair. They recommend you use crutches or a sling, and when people ask you about it, you can reply that people haven’t been treating Mother Nature kindly.

A nice sentiment, but we’d probably have to shave our legs to pull it off, and we’re far too lazy for that.

So we’ll probably just stick with our original idea: Invisible ninja. If you don’t see someone at your door, it’s probably us.

— John D’Anna