Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. When the kids were young, I absolutely loved decorating the house inside and out for this creepy day. We had so much fun with that and with creating their costumes. Our house was for many years a must-see site at Halloween and at Christmas. I know Halloween is now a target for the silly ultra-politically correct crowd. That is sad because for kids and forever–kid adults, it is one of the most fun days of the year.
Here’s a spooky Halloween fact: Last year alone more than 40 million kids went trick-or-treating. All that trick-or-treating really adds up to a huge amount of consumerism – and, unfortunately, waste with ghoulish impacts on our environment, as well as our pocketbooks. It is big business.
As you’ve probably figured out from walking into any store for months now, Halloween has become a bit of a nightmare for the environment. These days anything short of an entire yard transformed into a lit-up plastic graveyard or manufactured plastic costumes made of petro-chemicals has come to be considered un-festive.
Now you may wonder with the excessive commercialism tied now to Halloween, is it possible to have an environmentally-friendlier "green" Halloween? I believe it can be done. I came across some really great tips from The Wilderness Society that I think any environmentally-conscious witch or mummy or zombie would approve of:
Costumes: Leave the toxic Halloween costumes on the rack. Halloween costumes are supposed to be fun-scary, not scary-scary. Yet, store-bought costumes are often made up of nonrecyclable petro-chemical based plastic and synthetic fibers. Those Halloween costumes can include one of the scariest plastics – polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a soft plastic and known carcinogen that releases harmful toxins in its creation and breakdown. Avoid these toxic Halloween costumes and go for a green Halloween costume made of natural fabrics and materials. Make it yourself out of stuff around the house. If you are not that creative, take a look at sites like Pinterest for loads of cute and easy ideas. Your kids will love you for it.
Face paint: In their 2009 Pretty Scary report, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics sent 10 kid’s make-up sets to a lab and found that all 10 contained lead, which can lead to neurological damages in children, as well as nickel, cobalt and chromium. Six out of 10 contained cobalt and/or chromium at levels far exceeding safety standards. These metals are not listed on product labels. Look for organic, non-toxic face paints that comply with standards set by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics or try online homemade recipes for your green Halloween face paint.
Fake blood: Similar to face paint, fake blood can contain stuff that’s not so nice. Try making your own fake blood from natural products like cream cheese and cherry juice or cornstarch.
Shop the ultimate green Halloween markets: All those plastic costumes for Halloween and the packaging they come in create enormous amounts of waste. Consider having some fun sorting through costume selections at thrift shops, like Goodwill. Or consider having a swap party or hand-me-down effort with other neighborhood, school or church families.
Select not-so-scary trick-or-treat bags: Avoid the ubiquitous bright orange plastic jack-o-lanterns that have no chance at ever breaking down in a landfill. Instead, use reusable shopping bags or canvas totes. Make them memorable by decorating them with your kids.
Choose green Halloween treats with less packaging: In this day and age, treats need to come in individual packaging for safety reasons, but try to decrease candy packaging waste by buying in bulk and selecting Halloween candy that uses the least packaging. Candies that come in individual boxes have a chance at getting recycled, whereas those that come in plastic don’t. Yes, you could give out other types of non-edible useful items, but, for crying out loud, it is Halloween and kids want candy.
Give organic Halloween candy: Yes, it’s a bit pricier but certainly less scary for the environment. Organic means less environmental damage during production and transportation as well as healthier ingredients. For example, Yummy Earth sells certified organic individually wrapped lollipops.
Halloween pumpkins: Buy organic, if possible. Save seeds for roasting with a little oil and light salt. Save the pulp for pies, muffins or homemade pumpkin spiced lattes. Consider composting your pumpkins so they don’t add to the landfill.
Decorations: Halloween is the second biggest decorating holiday of the year, and so many of the decorations being peddled are made of non-recyclable plastics. If you do buy new items, at least choose durable nonpetroleum-based items that will last for many years. Otherwise, make a dent in the waste by creating your own homemade decorations with recycled household items. How about a giant spider? Use black trash bags for a giant tarantula (stuff with garden leaves or newspapers, but be sure to recycle the newspapers and trash bags when you’re done). Make a ghost by stuffing old bed sheets with leaves or newspaper, tie with a string to form a head and hang from trees. You can create spider webs with shredded black pantyhose or cotton balls, instead of the synthetic ones you buy. If you’re extra crafty, weave a web of yarn near your entryway from eco-friendly yarns.
The ideas are endless and you can find more ideas online and in plenty of magazines at this time of year. With just a little effort, this can be your "greenest" Halloween ever!
Make every day an environmentally-kind day by making a difference with Keep Liberty Beautiful – call 880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Halloween!