Walk through any number of stores at this time of year and it’s clear that Halloween is looming around the corner. While the omnipresent vampires, witches, and ghosts certainly look scary, scarier still is the thought of the tons of plastic trick-or-treat bags and disposable batteries heading for landfills after October 31st.
Eco-conscious consumers, including parents seeking to rein in spending (those ready-made costumes don’t have to be the norm) will appreciate knowing options exist when trying to plan a more environmentally-friendly and cost-conscious holiday for both big and small gremlins. Here are some ways to mix orange and black and get green.
Eco-Friendly Costume Ideas
Part of Halloween’s appeal is dressing up. Years ago, this entailed raiding closets and scouring attics, plus a little imagination. Today, the mass-produced costumes inundating stores are generally manufactured with a host of unfriendly materials, including chemically-dyed, petroleum-based fabrics. If you’d rather skip the polyester and PVC, consider outfitting your kids in natural fabrics, like organic cotton, silk, hemp, and wool. Search on-line and try major fabric stores; many retailers are now carrying these “greener” materials.
Don’t overlook ordinary household items (a great incentive for cleaning out the junk drawer?), cardboard boxes and outgrown clothes. Encourage older kids to design their outfits; their creativity often turns nothing into something. Gaiam Life which advocates sustainable living choices, suggests giving new meaning to green goblin this Halloween by adding the words create, rent, and share to the mantra of reduce, reuse,and recycle.
Many younger children dislike wearing masks. Face-painting is a reasonable alternative; however be aware that some products contain toxic ingredients like lead and mercury. Even makeup without these can cause allergic reactions. The Daily Green suggests using natural cosmetics to limit chances of such reactions, and also recommends doing a patch test on a small area of skin before applying products to the face since non-synthetic ingredients still might trigger irritation, especially in sensitive skin.
Tricks and Treats
Try substituting treats made of organic ingredients instead of typical sugar-laden, preservative-filled candies. Many markets, both super and specialty now carry these varieties. Give some thought to skipping the candy altogether by offering little trinkets, like themed pencils, crayons or stickers instead. Either way, don’t bother offering trick-or-treaters homemade goodies. However wholesome your ingredients, most parents won’t allow their children to accept them out of concern for safety.
Whatever loot your kids collect, they’ll need to stash it somewhere. Rethink the standard plastic or paper containers. Most kids will be happy to design their own from cloth tote bags or old pillowcases. Baskets also make handy treat holders. Adding fabric scraps, some paint, or buttons can give each creation some individual flair. And for trick-or-treating after dark, power up flashlights with rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones.
“Greening up” parties save money and cut waste. Start by sending e-mail invitations and opting for reusable plates. Skip store-bought decorations and craft your own (enlist kids’ help), then save for next year. Decorate pumpkins with wood pieces and non-toxic paint. Sheets stuffed with newspaper or cloth scraps can be tied with rubber bands to make hanging ghosts, bats, and cats. Simply scattering around some small pumpkins, jazzed up or not, is a quick way to add Halloween spirit.
Better for You, Better for the Planet
Planning Halloween fun shouldn’t scare you out of your wits. Seeking simpler alternatives to mass consumerism might actually help overcome typical holiday induced stress. Also, by choosing earth-friendly goods whenever possible, you won’t be frightened by the thought of post-Halloween waste haunting landfills forever.