Halloween is a favorite holiday for many families — about 36 million trick-or-treaters hit the streets in 2010. Each year, it leaves a thought-provoking “impact” - plastic candy wrappers, miles in the car, bought and discarded costumes, to name just a few. Recently, in talking to a number of families, we came away with the impression that that more and more people are thinking about the impact our beloved holiday has on the environment. It seems that little by little poeple are choosing to incorporate eco-friendly ideas into their Halloween. We also want to “green up” our Halloween, so we looked into it and thought we’d share what we came up with so far.
- Consider swapping costumes instead of buying a new one. If just half of children’s costumes were swapped instead of discarded, annual landfill waste would shrink by 6,250 tons, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Transportation. The website Greenhalloween.org organizes costume swaps http://www.greenhalloween.org/CostumeSwap/index.html around the country each year on Oct. 8. That day has passed this year, but there is always next year and there’s still time to organize one with friends or neighbors. This is a wonderful site where you can also read about the National Halloween Costume Swap Day, check out video clips and get lots of ideas on how to organize it.
- If you love to make your own costumes, there’s plenty of ways to do that in an eco-friendly fashion. In addition to greenhalloween.org, check out, National Geographic at http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/create-ecofriendly-halloween-costumes-2611.html for some more great ideas.
1. Clothes from an old dance recital or school play can make a great starting point for a new costume. Even clothes sitting in the closet, like dark tights and a turtleneck, can be the base for a butterfly costume.
2. Thrift stores are good places to find boas, hats, props and clothing from across the decades.
3. Try to avoid facemasks made of polyvinyl chloride- it’s non-recyclable and documented as a possible carcinogen. Go for natural latex instead.
4. Likewise, opt for non-toxic, water based face paint. If you choose other types of face paints, consider reading up on the ingredients in fine print on that particular package (they are all different)……you might be surprised.
Costumes are also a great way to make an environmental statement. Here are some ideas:
1. Dress up as your favorite environmental activist.
2. Dress up as “the change you want to see”: be a compact fluorescent light bulb, mother nature, or a burlap bag as opposed to a plastic one.
3. Go as the bad guy: dress up as climate change himself (or herself), become a vampire appliance, like a television or computer, that sucks energy even when it’s turned off. Here’s a scary story: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-vampire-appliances.htm.
Candy, while delicious, tends to be unhealthy and creates lots of waste in discarded plastic wrappers. Here are some alternatives to consider:
- Consider treasures instead of treats, like collectible cards small used dolls or action figures. It’s best if they’re not plastic, or used and even better if they’re from nature, like polished rocks, gems or seashells.
- You might also want to consider purchasing organic candies and treats made from real fruit – small juice boxes or even fruit leathers could be an alternative.
- You could look into buying chocolate that is fair trade or gives a percent of its earnings to environmental causes, like Endangered Species Chocolate. Many grocery stores offer at least a small selection now where people can find some alternatives.
- Or, you could make your own scarily delicious treats! Decorating cookies and cupcakes with the family can be a great family Halloween activity — one that could turn into a tradition. Here are some ideas: http://www.lilsugar.com/12-Homemade-Kid-Friendly-Halloween-Treats-5812845. For more ideas on healthy treats, check out these sites: http://greenhalloween.org/content.php?page=treats and http://www.sheerbalance.com/nutrition/8-eco-friendly-and-healthier-halloween-treats/
Pumpkins go with Halloween just as pine trees and candles go with the gift-giving holidays, with a whopping 931 million pounds being produced each year. As with Christmas trees, growing and transporting that many pumpkins can result in lots of carbon emissions and pesticide use. Some ideas for going green in this area might include buying reusable pumpkins or local or organic pumpkins. Reusable pumpkins can be made from glass or ceramics and can be painted – another fun family activity. Real pumpkins are, of course, the favorite and a great choice especially if they’re bought from a local resource. Farmers markets or farm stands make good places to look. Heirloom varieties are also very cool and can make your front porch really stand out! And once all the fun is over and done, don’t forget to try and compost them.
Finally, for a treat and grab bag of ideas on how to green your Halloween, check out The Daily Green. And, on a different note, if you haven’t done so already, check out our free organic cotton jacket giveaway hosted on Facebook. There is one week left to enter. For more information, see our last blog post or head over to http://www.facebook.com/ashmorecarey and look for the Giveaway tab. Okay, that’s it for now! Happy Halloween!