Halloween was always an exciting event for me as a child. I was never a huge fan of the haunted houses or games that required sticking my hand into something goopy and guessing what it was, but dress up like a princess and have people line up to give me candy? I was all over that.
As a parent, I’m not thrilled to have my kids repeat the candy gorging I did as a kid and the wastefulness of the holiday rubs the green part of me the wrong way. Halloween traditions can be fun without harming the environment. These simple tips will help you green your Halloween and make this holiday a celebration you can feel good about.
- Participate in a Halloween Costume Swap – Making your own Halloween costume from things you already own is ideal but if you aren’t crafty or don’t have the time to make your own costume, consider participating in a Halloween costume swap. You can organize your own costume swap with your friends and neighbors, participate in community costume swaps, or participate in an online costume swap. Craigslist.org or Ebay are great places to buy or sell gently used costumes or if you are feeling generous and want to give away your old Halloween costumes Freecycle is always a great choice.
- Use Reusable Halloween Treat Bags – Why create more waste than you need to? Use a reusable bag for yourHalloween treats instead of buying a plastic bag or Halloween bucket. You probably already have a reusable container laying around your home. Growing up we always used pillow cases (and let me tell you, we filled those things). If you don’t have reusable bags, consider buying some reusable grocery bags that you can use to reduce the waste you create long after Halloween is over. If you want a Halloween themed bag, make your own or look for reusable Halloween trick-or-treat bags that you can store and use year after year.
- Trick-or-Treat in your Neighborhood – Save some gas and trick-or-treat in your own neighborhood. Not only will you and your kids get some extra exercise but you’ll help your kids develop a sense of community as they get to know the people who live in your neighborhood.
- Hold a Healthy Trunk-or-Treat - It you want your kids to have a healthier Halloween, consider organizing a healthy trunk-or-treat in your neighborhood. A trunk-or-treat is when you get together with friends or neighbors, park your cars in a local parking lot, and have kids trick-or-treat at each car. You can decorate your car, include Halloween games for the kids at each car, and offer healthy treats. Since you know the other people participating in the trunk-or-treat you don’t have to worry about checking Halloween candy for evidence of being tampered with and you are free to give out treats other than prepackaged candy such as fresh fruit and homemade treats.
- Buy Local Pumpkins – Purchasing local fruits and vegetables is good for your health and the local economy. Keep things local this Halloween by buying local pumpkins from pumpkin patches or farmer’s markets near your home. Buying straight from the farmer allows you to talk with the person who is growing your food, which can be informative since many small farms follow organic practices but do not have the organic label because of the cost involved.
- Go Reverse Trick-or-Treating – Support a good cause by going reverse trick-or-treating and collecting money for UNICEF or spreading the word about fair trade chocolate.
- Make your Own Face Paint - Face paint, even if it labeled non-toxic often contains many harmful substances, including lead and formaldehyde. Keep your child healthy and save some money in the process by making your own Halloween face paint.
- Make your Own Eco-Friendly Halloween Decorations - Rather than wasting money on Halloween decorationsthat are designed to be thrown away after one use, try making your own out of materials you have around the house. An old sheet stuffed with old rags and tied with a ribbon makes an adorable ghost that you can hang by your front door. Have your kids help you make Paper Bag Pumpkins or make Ghost Feet and use them to decorate your window or door.
- Give Out Healthy Halloween Treats -Rather than bombarding all the kids in your neighborhood with unhealthy treats, try giving out organic lollipops, fruit leathers, or pencils. My kids got toothbrushes one year when they were out trick-or-treating (which you can get for practically nothing if you make a habit of using coupons) and I was shocked when it was one of their favorite treats.
- Turn Your Halloween Candy into a Science Experiment - Last year we turned our Halloween candy into a Homeschool science project with the help of some of the ideas from CandyExperiments.com. We had a blast and we used up a good portion of our Halloween candy without suffering the consequences to our health.
Photo by Amy V. Miller