By Kim Robson
Halloween is a fall tradition that has been around for hundreds of years. Its origins come from ancient pagan harvest festivals. We all have fond memories of our own childhood Halloweens and, of course, more recent Halloweens with our children and grandchildren. It can be frustrating, however, for those who want to provide a fun and memorable holiday for their kids, without all the plastic and sugar. Read on for some tips about how to make this one a “green” Halloween.
Avoid plastic decorations and costumes. I remember how much fun it was to raid my parents’ closets, looking for outfits to wear. Get creative! Click here for 50 ideas you can consider for DIY costumes. If possible, try to find organic or vegan makeup. If you do decide to purchase plastic decorations, make sure they will be used year after year.
Get to the local organic pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Let the kids choose the ones they want. Throw a pumpkin carving party! Save the seeds to clean and toast with sea salt. Don’t forget indoor ceramic jack-o-lanterns that can be used every year. Get a food-grade pumpkin and make a roast pumpkin fondue pot.
If creepy monsters aren’t your cup of tea, you can still create beautiful natural decorations inspired by the harvest season. Imagine pumpkins of all sizes and colors, winter gourds (which can be preserved, hollowed out, and/or decorated), dried Indian corn with husks attached, straw bales, pomegranates, and twigs. Also, this way you can keep your decorations on display through Thanksgiving!
Forget that boring old plastic jack-o-lantern treat bag. Host a craft day when your kids (and their friends or neighbors) can have a blast decorating their own personalized bags made from old pillow cases or canvas shopping bags. Browse craft stores for non-toxic paint and seasonal doodads like witches, ghosts, black cats, and skeletons. When you go out trick-or-treating, give every kid his/her own shakable or solar-powered light or glow stick for fun and visibility.
As for treats, there are plenty of options that will still make kids happy. (No toothbrushes!) Consider fair trade chocolate. Green & Black’s, Nirvana, and Sjaak’s all sell fair trade dark chocolate in bite-sized portions.
Global Exchange has started a program called Reverse Trick-or-Treating that highlights the plight of cocoa farmers and showcases the benefits of the Fair Trade Movement. You can help raise awareness while handing out chocolates at the door (great for older kids). Sign up to receive samples of fair trade chocolates, along with information cards that outline the program, to hand out to adults.
Look for candies made with cane sugar, agave nectar, honey, or fruit juice, and with natural colors. For a list of companies that sell certified organic, all-natural candies, click here. Healthy treats like organic dried fruit, granola bars, and popcorn packets all come individually packaged, so even the most safety-conscious parents won’t trash them.
GreenHalloween.org has some great ideas for non-candy treats. Below is a mere sampling:
· Acorns (kids love items from nature)
· Adhesive bandages with pirate, black cat and other fun themes
· Barrettes or other hair accessories
· Bean bags (homemade)
· Coins (U.S. or collectible)
· Confetti (biodegradable, water-soluble)· Crayons
· Earth tone feathers
· Fake jewels (lead free)
· Glass beads or marbles
· Mini cookie cutters
· Printed items like word games, word search, joke books, or crossword puzzles
· Pumpkins (mini, dried)
· Recycled glass tiles
· Sachets (homemade)
· Seed Packets
· Spinning tops (recycled plastic)
· Temporary tattoos