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Archive for the ‘safety’ Category

Lead Poisoning Threshold Lowered by CDC

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

by Wendy

The US Center for Disease Control recently made an announced the lowered the set lead poisoning threshold by half, making the number of cases of children under the age of 6 at risk to rise almost 6 times the previous average, from 77,000 to 442,000 cases.

Lead poisoning is toxic to everyone and no level of lead in your system is safe. It harms tissues and organs, such as the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, reproductive and nervous systems. Since lead poisoning also interferes with the development of the nervous system, it is especially toxic to children and can cause potential learning and behavior disabilities. Unsafe levels of lead in your blood can cause symptoms that range from headaches, stomach pains, anemia, confusion and irritability.

Let’s work to keep our children safe. Here are a few tips on how to remove and prevent any potential exposure of lead in your home environment:

Repair Chipped and Peeling Paint and Vacuum Frequently – paint, especially from older homes, can flack off, get into the air and settle on toys and other surfaces, such as carpet, tabletops and windowsills

Eliminate Lead-Containing Objects – such as bowls sealed with lead paint, some blinds, toys and jewelry that have stained glass, ink, paint, and plaster

Keeping Kids Hands Clean - wash their hands frequently and discourage them from putting them in their mouth to avoid picking up bacteria and other contaminates on the ground or on common surfaces

Increase Intake of Calcium and Iron – good nutrition can help reduce the amount of lead that’s absorbed in a child’s body

Run the Faucets in the Morning – helps to flush out the most contaminated water from old lead pipes

Use Only Cold Water from the Faucets – hot water contains higher amounts of lead than cold water


What are some other tips that can help prevent lead poisoning?


Wendy Yu is a digital marketing professional living in New York City. When she’s not using the power of social media to share ideas on how to be more environmentally friendly, she is exploring the city, trying local foods, and learning more about how she can reduce her carbon footprint.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Green Halloween® or our partners.

Must Have Reference Books for Your Home

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

by Wendy

In this day and age, we’re always curious at what we’re putting on and into our bodies and looking for ways to eat better, feel younger, and stay healthier. Whether it’s the food we eat or the shampoo we use, we scan through aisles of products and see words like, organic, all natural, gluten free, and fat free being used.

And since we’re also trying to be more eco-friendly and more aware of what we give our families, taking a peek at the ingredients label has become more and more important. But what happens when we come across ingredients like Butylated Hydroxyanisole? What’s that? I wasn’t quite sure until I looked it up and found that it’s commonly used as an antioxidant and preservative in food, food packaging, animal feed, cosmetics, rubber, and petroleum products.

Here are 2 must have books for your home that can help you figure out what those labels are telling you:

A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives – This book will tell you all you need to know about more than 12,000 different ingredients that go into the food we eat. From preservatives, pesticides, and even growth hormones, you’ll learn about the items you’re purchasing from your supermarket shelves and what to avoid.

A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients – Cosmetics always have ingredients you’re not too sure about that promises to help you become “wrinkle free” or “get healthier skin”. Find out what they’re really putting into that bottle before you put it on your skin.

Be aware of what you’re putting into your body as well as your family. Making a few changes to what you put into your shopping cart can make a big difference.

What are your must have reference books for your home?


Wendy Yu is a digital marketing professional living in New York City. When she’s not using the power of social media to share ideas on how to be more environmentally friendly, she is exploring the city, trying local foods, and learning more about how she can reduce her carbon footprint.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Green Halloween® or our partners.

Announcing: The new 2011 Guide to a “Non-GMO Halloween”

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

by Corey

We are thrilled and honored to partner with Non-GMO Project to present the first-ever Guide to a non-GMO Halloween!

Offered to parents as a toolkit, the 2011 Guide contains a list of Non-GMO Project Verified Halloween treats (such Nature’s Path organic crispy rice bars, Endangered Species Chocolates and Glee Gum minis), fun ideas for “treasures” (non-food goodies) and even a healthy recipe from our very own food blogger, Kia Robertson.

Get the facts about “Frankenfoods” and learn more about what actions you can take (throughout the year) to protect your family and planet at Then, Tell the FDA to Label GMOs! (Thanks to Healthy Child, Healthy World for posting this petition on

Get the Guide here.

Green Halloween® is a nationwide non-profit initiative started by mother-daughter team Corey Colwell-Lipson and Lynn Colwell. In 2010, Green Halloween became a program of EcoMom® Alliance and has events in cities across the U.S.

10 Hot Tips for a Healthy & Cool (Planet) Halloween

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Oleg Prikhodko/iStockphoto

Want to get on board with making Halloween healthier for kids and the planet but don’t know where to start? We’ve got 10 easy ideas that will help you celebrate an EEK-O fab holiday while keeping all the F-U-N.


The basics

Get a jump start. Unless you’re a Halloween junkie, like most moms, you likely hit the stores the week (or even hour) before the festivities begin. But greening your Halloween is a lot easier if you take just a little time to plan.  Not too much, just a bit – we promise.

Planning allows you to save money (last minute purchases = impulse buys) and to assemble eco-friendlier items from treats or treasures to décor without the stress that comes from last-minute decision making.

So grab a notebook and make a list of what you need. Do you want to hand out organic candy? Have your kids make their own costumes from what you’ve got on hand? Whip up your own face paints to avoid chemicals in commercial brands? Honestly, none of this takes much time when you plan ahead.

Get the kids on board. The second secret to pulling off a green Halloween is to get kids to buy in – by your positive attitude. Children who are told out of the blue, “We’re not going to buy you a new costume this year,” or “No candy for you!” certainly won’t be interested in supporting green efforts.

You know your children best, but a great way to approach them is by selecting one or two ideas from the list below and asking, “What would you think if….” You may be surprised that when you approach from a positive framework, i.e.” This is going to be a lot of fun and we’re going to make it happen together”—most children will get excited.

Once you’re got your shopping list and your kids enlisted, it’s time to carve out your eco-friendly options.

Here’s 10 of our favorite tips:

1. Choose no-waste pumpkins. Instead of purchasing one big pumpkin, how about selecting several smaller ones, then, instead of carving, painting on faces with non-toxic paints or decorating with yarn, ribbon, bottle caps and other found items. Smaller pumpkins can be put in the fridge when not on display to keep them fresher and once Halloween is over, you should be able to cook ‘em up instead of tossing.

2. Use beeswax candles. If you do carve and put a candle in your pumpkin, choose 100% beeswax. Most candles are made from paraffin, a petroleum by-product. Beeswax burns cleanly, lasts longer and releases a wonderful, all natural aroma. You may have heard that soy candles are a good alternative to paraffin, but soy is often genetically modified and its planting and harvesting can bring up other environmental issues. Beeswax comes from—bees! It is not modified in any way although natural color may be added to candles.

3. Use LED lights. By now everyone knows that incandescent lights don’t last very long, cost pretty pennies to use and burn HOT. LEDs now come in every size from mini-flashlight to outdoor spotlight. They are the safer, more sustainable option.

4. Seek out alternatives to conventional candy. For many families, this seems challenging. But we know that kids will go for treats and treasures other than what you usually associate with Halloween.

Over the last four years, we’ve tested the theory with a display board with dozens of alternatives—everything from beautiful colored stones to organic lollipops, whole foods bars, seed packets, pencils made from recycled paper are just a few. Literally thousands and thousands of kids from four to teen have told us they would be excited if these choices were in their bag. In fact, for the most part, kids are much less stuck on conventional candy that parents think. So go to Green Halloween and with your kids, look over the long list of treats and treasures, then pick out a few you’d like to try this year. Still skeptical? Offer a choice.

5. Set up or participate in a costume swap. According to Robert Lilienfeld of the Use Less Stuff Report, roughly 25 million children in the United States celebrate Halloween. Swapping just half of their costumes would reduce annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons, equivalent to the weight of 2500 midsize cars! And this doesn’t even address adult costumes.

You can set up your own neighborhood swap of course, or join the fun on National Costume Swap Day, the second Saturday in October. Check out the National Costume Swap Day website for ideas on how to set up a swap as well as link to swap sites both local and online.

6. Make décor instead of buying. In 2009, spending on all aspects of Halloween totaled $4.75 billion. This figure of course, includes décor, candy, costumes and other items, since Halloween is the second biggest holiday after Christmas for décor, obviously a huge chunk of change goes toward glowing lawn art, orange and black table decorations and millions of sets of Halloween-themed light strings.

If you’re aiming for a Green Halloween, try cutting your décor budget by 25%. Then fill in the difference with handmade items. Just Google “Halloween crafts,” and you’ll find hundreds of suggestions. One of ours is to make a Halloween tree by taking a branch from outside, then having the kids draw and cut out ghosts, pumpkins etc. and hang them from the tree. More ideas can be found here.

A fun way to get started with “upcycled” décor is to set a timer for 15 minutes, then send family members on a hunt around the house for items that can be transformed into décor. An orange and black t-shirts for instance, can be secured around pillows.

7. Hand out less. Everyone acknowledges we have a childhood obesity problem in this country. Nonetheless, people say, “Why not give out bunches of candy? It’s only once a year.”

The fact is that kids are exposed to candy and other sweets daily. It’s in everything from cereal to the lollipop they get at the bank.

We’ve shown that Halloween can be just as much fun even when a child brings home significantly less than the average of 10 pounds.

Like everything else in America, Halloween has become supersized. Today’s parents can remember being given one or two candy bars. Today it’s handfuls.

Whether you opt to give out conventional candy or alternatives, you can help steer children away from excess by offering just one or two items. What a concept, eh?

One successful strategy is to put a variety of items in a large bowl. When the doorbell rings, instead of inviting kids to dig in, explain that you are offering everyone a choice of one special item. Look each child in the eye and ask, “What special treat would YOU like?” As their hands seek out their choice, encourage them and smile and congratulate them on their final choice.

We can hear you saying, “But I get 25 kids at a time storming the door.”

To which we reply, “So?”

What’s wrong with slowing things down? Paying attention to each child, supporting their health (and your pocketbook – think how much less you’ll need to purchase) and having fun is what Halloween should be about. If some kids don’t want to wait, that’s up to them, but more likely, word will quickly get around and line will go around the block!

8. Walk in your neighborhood, don’t drive. One year we lived in Colorado and on Halloween evening the temperature plunged into the teens. We had moved up from Arizona and our blood was still as they say, a bit thin. But we braved the elements and had the best time.

We’re all about driving in this country, along with getting through whatever as quickly as possible. This is what we teach our children when, instead of walking the neighborhood, we drive them house-to-house or even block-to-block on Halloween.

In addition of course, driving creates emissions and idling is even worse. So bundle up and walk.

Another option to going door-to-door? Wrangle a few neighbors and co-host a Halloween-themed “progressive party.”

9. Bag it, green style. Instead of buying a single-use, disposable candy-carrier, make your child’s goodie bag from a pillow case or anything else you already own that goes with the theme of the costume. A purse for a princess? A backpack for a mountain climber? A helmet for a football player? Or, purchase a keepsake, reusable Green Halloween® trick-or-treat ChicoBag. (Designed each year by kids! Enter the design contest here. 10% of the sales support the Green Halloween initiative.)

10. “Recycle” candy & natural décor. Food rotting in landfills leads to the release of methane gas, which contributes to climate change. So don’t toss leftover candy and rotting pumpkins – recycle them! Composting turns food waste and natural décor (such as hay from your scarecrow) into nutrient-rich food for your plants, shrubs and trees. And even if you don’t have curbside composting or a home-composter, you can still compost at home. Watch this video and see how easy-breezy it is. Here are a few additional ideas for what to do with leftover candy.

Green Halloween® is a nationwide non-profit initiative started by mother-daughter team Corey Colwell-Lipson and Lynn Colwell. In 2010, Green Halloween became a program of EcoMom® Alliance and has events in cities across the U.S.

Now THAT’s spooky! The importance of celebrating green this Halloween.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Halloween is big on fun but, unfortunately, it’s also big on unhealthy traditions and waste. Many moms and dads worry about the impact of this holiday on the health of their kids and the planet.

And for good reason.

Almost $6 billion a year is spent on costumes, candy, décor and other accessories, most of which are made from unhealthy, unsustainable materials, by people who may not be paid living wages or treated fairly. Most of the stuff – what isn’t consumed – winds up in landfills.

And scary news about high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, lead laden accessories just fuel parent’s concerns.

But our goal is to show families that it’s easy and affordable to keep the fun, while losing the unhealthy, un-Earth-friendly traditions. It’s not about telling parents how they should celebrate – it’s about inspiring them to make choices that make sense to their families, their budgets and their schedules. And when many families make healthier and more sustainable choices for Halloween – taking even the smallest of steps – big impacts can be made for the short and long term.

Here are a few of the “spooky statistics” that might fuel your desire to help change the way you celebrate Halloween:

  • One in three trick-or-treaters born today will develop diabetes.
  • One-third of America’s trick-or-treaters are overweight; 17% are considered obese.
  • Today’s trick-or-treaters have a life expectancy that is shorter than their parents.
  • 1 in 13 trick-or-treaters suffers from food allergies.
  • Coco beans used for chocolate that are grown in full sun (as opposed to shade) are susceptible to disease and therefore require heavy doses of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
  • The chocolate industry has engaged in the use of child slaves and other unethical treatments of growers.
  • Store-bought costumes, makeup and accessories may contain phthalates, lead and other toxins.
  • One test of multiple brands of face paints found detectible levels of lead in all of them. (According to experts there are NO safe levels of lead).
  • Over 6,000 synthetic chemicals are used in the processed-food industry. Most Halloween “treats” are processed.
  • A 2004 study with 1800 three year old children found that behavior measurably improved after a one week diet without preservatives and artificial colors and dramatically worsened on the weeks they were given preservatives and artificial colors (present in most Halloween candy).

For more “why’s” of Green Halloween®, click here.

Green Halloween® is a nationwide non-profit initiative started by mother-daughter team Corey Colwell-Lipson and Lynn Colwell. In 2010, Green Halloween became a program of EcoMom® Alliance and has events in cities across the U.S.