Busy parents need greening to be simple. Whatever the choice may be (goodies, costumes, décor, etc.), adding an eco-friendly twist shouldn’t increase stress and chaos to an already hectic holiday season.
But making healthy and green choices is, in fact, easier than it seems.
The key is thinking (and acting) outside the conventional candy box.
- Plan ahead. Halloween is a fairly last minute holiday, resulting in a lot of knee-jerk choices that aren’t good for kids or the planet. But if you make a habit of thinking ahead, you can find exactly what you want while saving time, energy and reducing stress. One idea is to create a reoccurring appointment in your calendar for each October 1st. Decide what you are going to give away this year and, if necessary, order it online or pick it up. If you have the bandwidth to coordinate with a few friends or co-workers, you can save money by buying online, splitting the quantities and dividing the shipping charges. If the recycled plastic tops or eco-themed temporary tattoos are a hit, make it easier on yourself by giving the same thing away next year. (Make your green goodies a tradition.)
- Take a different road. Who said goodies have to be bought at grocery stores? Most of us run out to the grocery store the night before Halloween to pick up that 10 pound bag of candy (or two), but what if we realized that great, green goodies can be found elsewhere, too? What about picking up some seeds while you’re at the nursery? Or some cool glass beads when you drive by the art supply store? Playing cards with magic tricks, recipes and Halloween jokes can be found at bookstores and toy stores. Lots of ideas for “treasures” can be found here.
- Include the kids. Going green is a family affair, so make it easier on yourself and include the kids by asking for their ideas. When they’re involved from the get-go, they’re more like to stay involved and to have positive attitudes.
- Relax. Going green isn’t an all or nothing deal and busy moms have a lot on their minds and plates. So start with simple green steps that will work for your family this year. You can always add more the next time around. Holidays should be about the fun, not about the stress. Even green choices, if stressful, won’t be sustainable over the long haul.
- When it comes to which goodies to hand out, take a cue from doing laundry. Why? What “treasures” do your kids stash in their pockets? Polished rocks, feathers, seashells, and other items from nature are timeless treats for children of all ages. (And we’ve polled thousands of kids – toddlers to teens – who say goodies like these get two thumbs up!)
- No matter what goodies you give away, give just one (instead of handfuls). When we were kids, most of us received one treat and each door, but now everything is supersized – including trick-or-treating. Giving away just one of something is easy to do, costs you less and is better for children and the planet. And here’s a tip: Place goodies in a bowl and let kids know – with barely contained enthusiasm – that they can choose just one really special treat. When you do, something magical will happen. The kids will get excited about picking that one perfect treasure – more excited than if they had received a handful.
- Many stores have healthier options for Halloween, but they might not know it (or market them as such). Take a quick stroll through the aisles and consider treats and treasures such as: Larbars, honey or agave sticks (may cost as little as 5-10 cents apiece), Stretch Island fruit leathers, all natural gum (like Glee Gum), or mini packs of all natural or organic crackers, granola or granola bars, cookies, or dried fruit. For treasures, stickers, bookmarks and pencils all made from recycled materials. Click here for a big list of ideas.
- If you want to give out candy, consider organic options such as Endangered Species “Bug Bites” and look for candy in bulk. While still made with sugar, organic and all natural ingredients are better for children and growing foods organically is better for the planet and the people who grow them. Companies such as Surf Sweets sell organic candy with low price points.
- Go green, save time and money by shopping for your child’s costume at a consignment or thrift shop such as Goodwill.
- Celebrate National Costume Swap Day™ (www.CostumeSwapDay.com). Have a lunchtime costume exchange with co-workers who are parents, or with your church, after a weekend soccer game or combine it with a ladies night.
- Set the timer and let your kids go on a hunt through the house looking for Halloween costume components. (Be sure to tell them if any parts of the house are off limits). Let their imaginations fly. Instead of being a superhero or television character, the might just want to flex their creative muscles and be something unique.
- If buying, look for costumes made from petroleum-free fabrics that are less likely to contain phthalates, lead or other toxins.
- For the goody bag – use something you already own that goes with their costume. A chef can carry a bowl, a mountain climber a backpack, a princess a purse, football player a helmet, etc. Or go with the adorably eco, keepsake, reusable Green Halloween® trick-or-treat ChicoBag®.
- Instead of buying petroleum based or disposable décor items, think about using items from nature such as pumpkins, gourds, hay, etc. When you’re done, simply toss them into your yard waste bin (if allowed in your area) or compost. Or buy items that are recycled, upcycled, handcrafted or ethically sourced (e.g. Fair Trade) such as those found here.
- Candles are a popular Halloween décor item, but paraffin is an unsustainable product and contributes to poor indoor air quality. Instead choose 100% beeswax candles (available at most health food stores in a rainbow of colors, shapes and sizes). They burn cleaner and longer and don’t make as much of a mess. They also smell naturally sweet.
- Instead of buying décor for the entire lawn, consider decorating just the doorway. Go simple in the house, too, by choosing one area to spruce up. Focusing and simplifying will save time, money and resources.
- At the end of the holiday, pack reusable décor away carefully so that it stays in good shape and can be used for years to come. (Remember, when it comes to holidays, reusing=traditions.) While it may take some extra effort at clean up time, doing so will save money, time and resources in the long run.
- Don’t make food ahead, instead, make it an activity. Here are a few ideas that are easy and fun to make (not to mention healthy and high on the ‘yum’ scale):
- Pumpkin smoothies
- Pumpkin seed “gorp”
- Halloween pizzas (use pre-made, whole wheat crusts and have available orange, black and green veggies to customize)
- Halloween-ka-bobs (let kids make their own with Halloween colored foods)
Putting some green into your Halloween does not have to be difficult or costly. In the continuum of being green, all families can hop on board! You can start wherever you are. For example, if your family eats organic and shops mostly locally, Green Halloween offers additional ways you can make your holiday even healthier and more green with tips even seasoned health-conscious parents will find useful. If your family has yet to try healthy alternatives, this is a great year to start. The Green Halloween website (www.GreenHalloween.org) offers even green-newbies fun, easy and affordable ways to start new holiday traditions your whole family will enjoy. Being a part of Green Halloween means trying one new tradition–or trying them all. By going green for just one part of your Halloween, you’ll be making a difference you and your family can be proud of.
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 EcoMomÂ® Alliance and has events in cities across the U.S.