Oh how I love Halloween - the holiday that brings back such good memories of being a kid and getting all excited about my costume (well maybe that didn't exactly end when I was a kid), dumping my bag at the end of a good trick or treating run and comparing my stock to my friends & siblings, being on a chocolate high for weeks...I could go on and on. I now look forward to Halloween for my son, even though he hates dressing up and last year was giving people back their candy when they didn't give out M & M's.
10 Easy Ways to Green Your Halloween!
As excited as I still get about Halloween, I have to admit that this cherished holiday which hits the "childhood memory sweet-spot" doesn't quite jive with my green and healthy ways. From the excessive amount of waste generated, to the litter and mass amounts of candy sold containing loads of artificial colors and chemically-altered substances, Halloween just isn't the most eco-friendly & healthy holiday.
I came up with some easy ways to "Green Your Halloween," with some help from my friends at Celebrate Green, who have made greening your holidays fun & simple and also started a national "Green Halloween" movement. This list also includes a tip or two from Lisa Borden, who is also one of my favorite greenies and works tirelessly to spread the green word.
TEN WAYS TO GREEN YOUR HALLOWEEN:
1) Instead of buying a new costume, attend a costume swap in your area or trade costumes with your friends.
There are costume swaps being held all over the country, to locate one near you click on this link. The Whole Foods Market in Schaumburg is hosting Green Halloween festivities this Saturday the 16th from 12pm - 2pm. Bring your old costume to swap and enjoy eco-friendly crafts and activities. There will also be giveaways from local green vendors (like Ecominders & Surf Sweets)
2) Use a reusable tote for trick or treating instead of a plastic bag!
This might be the easiest tip and simplest way for you to go green this Halloween. At this point I would imagine that most people have a reusable tote or ten around their house that can be used. Take a reusable tote that you already have and add some personalized Halloween decor, which is a fun thing to do with your kids. There are also adorable Halloween-themed reusable totes available or you can make your own with some felt and glue that you can use for years to come.
3) Choose healthier candy options to give out to trick or treaters.
Pick-up a bag of Halloween candy and read the ingredients...talk about scary!!! Most candy on the shelves has any array of oh so lovely ingredients, like genetically modified sugars, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and artificial colors like Red #3 and Yellow #5. Did you know that Yellow #5 is made from coal tar? Who doesn't want a little coal tar with their candy? Companies like Surf Sweets offer healthier candy options without artificial colors & flavors and are available at your local Whole Foods Market.
4) Or instead of giving out candy all together, choose reusable & fun items that kids can actually use after Halloween!
Non-toxic crayons, eco-friendly pencils like Miss Brittany's Eco-Tree Colored Pencils and eco-friendly stickers like Ecominders (shameless plug) make great trick or treat giveaways, don't cause excess waste and are actually useful while encouraging green choices & changes.
5) Try to buy organic pumpkins that were grown without the use of pesticides, and make use of the entire pumpkin.
Conventional pumpkin growth requires the use of a lot of pesticides, and most people buy them, use them for decoration and then toss 'em. Try and use as much of the pumpkin as you can - start with baking and eating the seeds and then after Halloween use the pumpkin to bake a pumpkin pie or try a new unique pumpkin recipe. And be sure to compost the rest of the pumpkin if you can!
6) Choose safe and non-toxic face paints instead of chemical & lead-filled options.
Stage makeup, halloween makeup, and play makeup contain some of the highest concentrations of toxic ingredients you can find in makeup, including lead! Lead is one of the worst things you can expose your children too, as it especially harmful to growing brains & bodies. Stick to face paint and make-up that is free of harsh chemicals (you can check the safety of make-up at The Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Database). The women of Celebrate Green also teamed up with Terrafirma Cosmetics to create healthy & organic Halloween make-up that you can purchase here. There are also these great non-toxic face pencils available that are very simple to use called Lyra Face Paint Pencils.
7) Reuse your Halloween decorations each year!
Be sure to pack away your Halloween decor each year so that you can reuse it as opposed to buying new each year. Not only will you save needless waste from landfills but you will save money too! Invest in decor that will last or make your own, like these adorable Halloween luminaries made from used cans around the house. CFL bulbs are now available in black and orange, which is a great eco-friendly way to add the Halloween spirit around the house.
8) Think green when hosting your Halloween party.
If you are hosting a ghoulish gathering this year, try to keep the environment in mind. Choose reusable over disposable, but if you must use disposables opt for brands that are more kind to the planet, such as Bare by Solo paper goods and biodegradable & compostable utensils like Eco Products utensils. Also be sure to provide recycling options (and composting if available) at the party by having separate garbage cans.
9) Stick to your neighborhood when trick or treating.
Instead of driving to a trick or treating location, stay in your 'hood and get some exercise. Think about it as an opportunity to burn off some of those Halloween candy calories!
10) Have your kids do some good for others while trick or treating by bringing along a UNICEF box!
Why not kill two birds with one stone...as long as you are going door-to-door why not help get donations for UNICEF, which provides immunizations, clean drinking water and education to children around the world. This also helps make Halloween less "all about the candy" and allows you to teach an important lesson - i.e. not all children are fortunate enough to have clean drinking water, let alone the opportunity to celebrate such fun holidays like Halloween!