Halloween is one of the most exciting times of year, especially when you have children in your life. But unfortunately, the holiday also comes with a bit of an ethical dilemma, because almost everything associated with a typical celebration is disposable, single-serving, synthetic, and full of high-fructose corn syrup and all manner of nasty chemicals. For those of us who strive to live as healthfully and as eco-consciously as we can, All Hallow’s Eve can feel like a bit of a green nightmare!
So if you’re interested in giving the holiday a “green makeover”, just keep reading!
1. Choose Homemade or Secondhand Costumes.
- Homemade/secondhand means you’re saving on packaging, shipping, and all the other energy that it takes to get brand new items onto store shelves. Using what you already have is hands down the “greenest” way to go – and it also allows you to flex your creativity muscle!
- If you do desire a specific or pre-packaged costume, a great solution is to set up a pre-Halloween costume swap with a group of friends (for you) or parent friends (for your kids). This is also a good event to coordinate the week after trick-or-treating, guaranteeing you’ll be all prepared when next year rolls around.
2. Conserve By Saving or Donating.
- Don’t throw that beautiful costume away! If you’re not going to swap with friends, make sure you save your costume to be used again, or pass it along to someone else who will use it. Growing up, our costumes were always added to the “Dress-Up Chest,” to be played with year-round. Alternatively, you can donate costumes to a local theatre or charity, or to neighborhood schools or preschools. Just whatever you do, keep it out of the trash!
3. Skip Individually-Wrapped and Artificially Colored/Sweetened Candy.
- Depending on your community, you may be able to make your own treats (like baked goods or popcorn balls) and wrap them in tissue paper, which can then be recycled.
- If you don’t think the parents in your neighborhood will go for that, you can hand out healthier treats, free from high-fructose corn syrup, chemical coloring, and artificial flavors. Check local Health Food Stores, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods for organic options.
4. Make Sure Your Makeup Is Non-Toxic.
- The majority of makeup, and pretty much all costume face paints, contain lead and other heavy metals. This is a serious issue and something to keep in mind when planning you and your children’s costumes. You can read more about heavy metals in face paint and costume makeup from the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics [inert as hyperlink — http://safecosmetics.org], and you can learn how to make you own all-natural face paints, here [insert as hyperlink — http://ecochildsplay.com/2014/10/29/diy-3-recipes-to-make-your-own-natural-face-paint-for-halloween].
5. Homemade and Natural Decorations.
- Make your own creative decorations using recyclable materials like cardboard, newspaper, and aluminum foil. This also doubles as a great afternoon art project for the kids!
- If you like a more rustic look, why not use nature to decorate? The natural world is so beautiful this time of year. Try a spread of brightly colored autumn leaves, some knobby and twisted dried willow branches, or a collection of pretty pumpkins and funky gourds.
- Most commercial candles are made from paraffin, which is a petroleum product. For your jack-o-lantern or other decorations, choose fragrance-free soy candles instead.
6. Skip the Store-Bought Candy Bucket.
- The orange pumpkin pail is cute and nostalgic, but it’s also made by cheap labor overseas in China, and the flimsy plastic is leeching BPA left and right. Have kids collect their candy in a pillowcase or wicker basket.
7. Use LEDs.
- If you think you’ll need extra light while trick-or-treating, make sure you pick out an LED flashlight. LEDs not only burn brighter, but they last infinitely longer than standard bubs, which makes them the best choice for energy efficiency.
8. Party smarter.
- If you’re going to host a bash, make sure to provide visible recycling containers for guests, so they can properly dispose of their used items like bottles, cans, etc.
- For smaller gatherings use your own cloth napkins, kitchen plates, and cutlery. Ask a few friends to pitch in on the clean-up and dishwashing.
- If you’re hosting a much bigger shindig, make sure you buy the party cups/plates/napkins/cutlery that are made from recycled or sustainable materials.
And there you have it – 8 great tips to get you started for your Green Halloween!