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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Green Your Halloween

Halloween is coming up and with it these questions: Should we do what we do every year and just have fun or should we try to be green and if so, how?
I overheard quite some conversations about this topic during the last past months. Shockingly, a ton of people confessed that they throw out most of the Halloween candy that the kids are collecting, even though they have no problem with the kids eating candy in general (which is a completely different topic which I don't want to discuss at this point :-)

So here's my problem with this: Many people think that for one day per year (really? Only this one day?) we shouldn't worry so much about nutrition and the environment and just do what the tradition calls for: hand out and collect cheap, harmful candy that requires a ton of energy to be produced, wrapped, shipped and then to be tossed???
Of course we also need a new costume every year, if possible each and every family member. Again, a lot of energy for production, wrapping, shipping... you get the idea.
Then we need all those decorative items for inside and outside the house, preferably also new each year.
Oh, and not to forget the parties with the typical candy stuff, disposables (why, of course it has to be Halloween themed paper napkins, plates, tablecloth etc. etc. Right?)

Scary? Yes!

I believe we can have fun and act responsibly at the same time. Here's some tips how to Green Your Halloween:

  1. To end the tons and tons of cheap, harmful candy that goes into the landfill every day after Halloween, why don't you think about giving out all those chatskies that your kids received at all the parties during the year? Think pencils, figurines, animals, notepads, stickers,... There's a ton of alternatives to the "traditional" candy out there - even pennies might do it!
  2. Chocolate is, like coffee or tea, serves a big market throughout the world. Unfortunately, most of the cocoa used for the production of chocolate is harvested and processed in non-humane and non-environmentally friendly ways, including child labor and even slavery. Global Exchange has launched Reverse Trick or Treating, where kids hand out a piece of fair-trade chocolate along with an informational sheet to adults to spread the word about the labor and environmental problems of conventional cocoa and coffee farming. The kits can be ordered online or are available at Terra Tea Salon if you live in the Montclair area.
  3. Costumes: Have you ever tried to make a costume out of something that you already have? I personally can't think of any other thing that can be so fulfilling as to do just that. Dig deep into your box of hats, scarves, old clothes etc, and you might be very surprised at what might come out of there. Think pirates, clowns, even trees. Be creative. Have fun. And if you're not so handy (or think you're not), consider getting your costumes at a local thrift store or from friends and neighbors.
  4. When it comes to decorations you're better off with nature-made items such as pumpkins, gourds or hay bales. Fragrance candles often give off toxic compounds which are not good to inhale or for the environment. If you own Halloween decoration already, use it again and again and again and again (instead of tossing it and buying new stuff each year).
  5. And finally, if you throw a Halloween Party, ditch the disposables and pick reusables instead. We really don't need the Halloween themed single-use dinnerware and napkins (and we have never, ever needed the plastic throw-away after one use "silverware"). How about an orange tablecloth with black dinnerware (most people, including me, owe some kind of black plates), decorated with gourds in different sizes and colors and some hay? Just to throw out a few ideas...
Hopefully there's some options for you to Green Your Halloween.
Have fun!!!

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