Want to make your Halloween more eek-o-friendly? Here are some tips from savvy green parents to help reduce the impact of your spooky celebration.
Rooted in ancient celebrations of the fall harvest, modern-day Halloween has become a multibillion dollar holiday filled with chemicals, sugar, and mountains of waste. You can help shrink the monstrous environmental footprint of Halloween — and keep your kids safe from questionable chemicals in costumes, face paint, and candy — with some great ideas from these top green bloggers!
Micaela of Mindful Momma takes a balanced approach to this highlight of the kid calendar:
“My attitude toward Halloween is not to try to fight it but instead to work in greener, healthier practices that still allow kids to have fun. Some parents allow kids to have a few pieces of candy and then buy or exchange the rest for a toy or something the child will be happy to have. I’ve personally never done that but I find that the excitement of the candy wears off after a few days and younger kids won’t notice if some of it disappears. My boys are older now (11 and 15) so there’s no messing with their candy – but they know the importance of healthy eating and how to be mindful of how much candy they are eating. Frankly, I’m not too worried about it. I do make sure they eat a healthy meal before trick-or-treating though!!
As for costumes and decorations – YES to thrift stores! I love the creativity that goes into costumes – especially when you mix and match things yourself!”
Sommer, the Green and Clean Mom, also believes moderation is key:
“I think with everything it comes down to doing your best and thinking moderation. For example, I don’t make my own costumes but we try when possible to re-use costumes or share our old costumes with others so they don’t buy a costume. My children reuse the same felt bag each year when trick-or-treating, and we limit the candy consumption.
When it comes to the classroom parties, I try to offer to bring in fruit or make cute snacks like this one. We can’t all be perfect and be 100% eco-friendly for all holidays and each day of the week but we can try our best. So if you give out candy, consider organic lollipops, or better yet something the children will use, like pencils and school supplies.”
Lori at GroovyGreenLivin keep the treats on the healthier side with candy exchanges:
“It’s definitely an ongoing, delicate challenge to balance raising an eco-family and allowing kids to be kids. When my boys were younger we would strike a deal with them on Halloween. They agreed to swap out their collected candy for safer alternatives that didn’t contain artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup and GMOs. As the years have gone by it’s nice to see that there are more and more options for safe treats making their way onto the shelves in our stores. Now my boys just want cash in exchange for their candy. I can live with that!”
Kim (aka FreshGreenKim) of Our Daily Green has some novel ideas for shrinking Halloween’s footprint:
“I have started a local ‘Borrowing Group’ through Facebook, where people post what they have to lend and what they need to borrow. It’s all by referral so whoever does the borrowing knows someone who knows someone. We are doing it with costumes, party decorations, books, formal dresses, you name it. Canning equipment, ladders, etc.
As far as the candy goes, one year we gave out coins for a local ice cream parlor, another year we gave out movie rental gift cards. I remember one family used to set up a popcorn machine and give out bags of fresh popped popcorn! (Everyone LOVED the popcorn house — but that only works if you have a popcorn machine & everyone can see you making it that moment, I know folks worry about poisoned candy — or is that a thing from my generation only?) I don’t like the single wrapped candy racket at all, but I have ordered it from Equal Exchange.
I am not a “decorator” by nature, so our biggest decoration on Halloween is a bonfire. Everyone knows “that’s the house with the bonfire” when they come trick or treating… In fact, last year, one of the kids was overheard saying as he walked up our sidewalk, “Dude, I’ve been coming here for years, they ALWAYS have a fire” (he was probably 7 or 8)… so we don’t have the plastic skulls and gravestones, we don’t have fake spiderwebs, but we’re the house with the bonfire.
I’ve never done this, but I’ve seen some pretty cute jack o’ lantern decorations with recycled jars… Made me wish my kids were still little (they are 18 & 20).”
Dawn at Small Footprint Family skips trick-or-treating altogether, and enjoys a fun-filled party with like-minded friends:
“We do not “Trick or Treat” and do not eat candy, unless it’s of the homemade sort. My daughter has many food allergies and can’t have it anyway.
Instead, several families we are friends with, who also share our values, rotate having a potluck Halloween party each year, with plenty of wholesome and allergy-friendly homemade treats made with whole food ingredients. Someone usually makes homemade apple cider! We each bring plates, cups, etc. for our families, so there’s no disposable plasticware to throw away.
The kids wear costumes and play games organized by the parents, and have a great time, and the adults get to socialize too. It’s a great celebration of the seasonal harvest and a fun community builder!
Then later, my daughter opens the door for the kids who come to our house Halloween night to Trick or Treat, and gives out organic lollipops or mini-fair trade chocolates (available at any natural food store), which are less yucky. She loves to see all the costumes, and meet new kids, and doesn’t feel she’s missing out since she had such a fun party with her friends.”
Eliza at Happy Simple Living has some suggestions for natural decorations:
Make a natural centerpiece for your table by putting a heatproof glass votive candle in the center of a shallow wooden or pottery bowl. Surround it with pretty autumn leaves, acorns, pine cones and other found objects.”
Eliza is also an expert on ways to use pumpkins! Her new cookbook 101 Things To Do With Pumpkin (Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2015) includes a recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds, which she’s generously sharing (see healthy snacks at the bottom of this post).
Some other tips worth checking out:
♦ Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food has some more bright ideas for ditching sugar.
♦ Tara at Sustainable Baby Steps has more tips here.
♦ Healthychild.org has lots more helpful advice on avoiding toxins this Halloween.
♦ Learn how to do a zero waste Halloween from Skip the Bag
♦ Check out these ideas for upcycled Halloween decorations from Everchange Productions
♦ A Green and Rosie Life has 7 tips for greening your halloween
♦ My post on Eartheasy outlines all the major Halloween pitfalls and how to avoid them.
♦ GreenHalloween.org has lots more ideas to make this Halloween a green one.
♦ ♦ ♦
Looking for healthier but still fun and yummy Halloween treats?
♦ Check out the delicious and healthy treats you can make with pumpkin!
♦ Healthy Holistic Living.com offers 5 Healthy Halloween Fun Food Ideas.
⇒The most affordable, available, less-full-of-nasty-stuff candy I’ve found is Yum Earth Lollipops if you want to hand out candy and are looking for a relatively benign alternative to Nerds and Laffy Taffy.
Eliza Cross’s ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS (from 101 Things To Do With Pumpkin)
2 cups pumpkin seeds
8 cups water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the pumpkin seeds, water, and 2 tablespoons salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain in a strainer. Spread the seeds on paper towels and blot to dry. Transfer to a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, and toss to combine.
Spread the seeds evenly on a heavy, rimmed baking sheet and roast until lightly browned, stirring once halfway during cooking, for about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on the pan to room temperature. Makes 4 servings.
Variation: After drizzling boiled, drained seeds with olive oil, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder in addition to salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Proceed as above.
Thanks to all the generous bloggers who contributed to this post!
How will you make your Halloween more eco-friendly this year?
Image credits: jack o’ lantern — Tomasz Stasiuk; pumpkin seeds — Brian Jackson via Flickr
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Shared at Waste Less Wednesday