These days, parents try their best to promote an earth-friendly household. And Halloween, an upcoming favorite family holiday, is an ideal time to encourage wholesome snacking, recycling, and buying in moderation. Organizations, such as the nonprofit Green Halloween, provide ideas to make the celebration – and your community – healthier and sustainable.
While cutting down on candies and décor is possible, parents should remember that Halloween, perhaps more than other holidays, is supposed to be cheerful, sometimes gluttonous fun. “ Halloween isn't green. Halloween is black and orange,” says Susan Shwartz, a fantasy and science fiction novelist and godparent of two in New York. “If you take down the consumerism, it will be more green,” she says, “but Halloween is a time for fun. Simply supply more ecologically appropriate accessories and see what happens.”
Here are some tips to promote an environmentally friendly and self-sufficient Halloween.
- Go neutral. Drape your home in subtler palettes and avoid holiday imagery. For tablecloths, stick to harvest colors you can display during the entire autumn season, instead of buying Jack O’Lantern linens for Halloween or napkins with turkey images for Thanksgiving. “Decorate with natural fall items: pumpkins, hay bales, dried cornstalks,” says Nicole Sicuro-Leipski, an admissions counselor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
- Create a candy collective. Buy candy in bulk with your neighbors, says Karine Henschen, a mother of two in Hebron, Ohio. “You could have two or three neighbors grouped together, and they can place the candy in large bowls with a little scoop, like at a candy store,” she says. Treats can be distributed every two or three houses instead of every house.
- Enjoy an evening stroll. “Walk with your kids. I've seen parents drive their kids from house to house –and wait in the car with the car running – even when those houses are literally 20 feet from each other,” says Sicuro-Leipski. Tow little ones in a Radio Flyer wagon, or trick-or-treat in a caravan of bicycles. But walking in the neighborhood, still, is your best bet. If you’re concerned about safety, visit a neighborhood that welcomes trick-or-treaters and is known for its active Halloween participation, as some neighborhoods opt not to participate in the holiday.
- Put twists on a traditional campfire. Consider “an all-natural bonfire at a neighborhood party,” says Essa Adams, a green consultant in South Bend, Ind. Sip organic cider or chocolate soy milk, for instance, and avoid soda at night. In lieu of toasting marshmallows or making S’mores, place banana slices onto skewers and dip them in small bowls of natural honey. Light candles instead of clicking on flashlights.
- Give the gift of growth. When trick-or-treaters come knocking, hand out seeds for planting in addition to or instead of traditional treats, suggests Vanna Valdez, a ceramic artist in New York. “You can explain what kind of seed it is and get them excited to grow it.”
- Wear toxic-free makeup and natural materials. According to GreenHalloween.org, store-bought costumes, makeup, and accessories like fake teeth may contain phthalates, lead, and other toxins. Select costumes made of cotton or wool. “Try the local wear-it-again shop,” says Adams. Visiting a thrift shop instead of purchasing a new outfit means your child won’t just learn to shop frugally, but will head to her classmates’ party with a costume no one else has!
- Don’t attempt to do too much. “You can't get rid of wrappings on candies because parents will go through the swag and toss anything that looks as if hands have touched it,” says Shwartz. “However, you can give things like boxes of raisins or packs of sunflower seeds and concentrate on nutrition, rather than avoiding packages.”
These tips are merely starting points. If you take a closer look at the items in your home, and take the time to infuse your creativity into the holiday, you’ll see it’s easy to green your Halloween.