Boo! Scaring up some 'eek'-o-friendly tips this Halloween
Halloween is here! In my day, we fashioned hand-sewn costumes and reused our uncle's Army jackets or grandma's wig. It was the '70s and recycling was all the rage. Then came the 80s and all bets were off. America kept abusing the planet, including at its holidays, with reams of wasted wrapping paper and ribbons piling up in our livingrooms like non-green monsters.
We can do better.
Here are some tips, courtesy of ECOlunchboxes of Northern California:
Make Your Own Decorations
Consider using upcycled and recycled items for decorating, and definitely avoid that nasty “spiderweb” plastic people spread all over their bushes! Create paper cut-outs to decorate windows (which can be stored flat and saved for next year). Cover formed chicken wire with cheesecloth to create floating ghosts in the yard.
Party Like a Zero Waste Rockstar
Use non-breakable, kid-and-planet friendly items such as stainless-steel camping trays in lieu of paper or plastic plates, cups and utensils.
Sustainable Candy & Alternatives to Candy Treats
Parents of kids with food allergies, sensitivities, or who want a healthier treat may not appreciate the candy offered by some neighbors. Look for organic and/or sugar-free candy options. Also consider making crafts to give out. Make sure to ask children if they have any food allergies before stuffing that Snickers with peanuts into their bag.
Paraffin in candles is a waste product from the petroleum industry and releases carcinogenic toxins when burned. Benzene and toluene are found in the sooty residue from burning candles. The EPA has classified benzene as carcinogenic and toluene is toxic to the nervous system. Choose 100% beeswax candles to still achieve a spooky atmosphere while being environmentally conscious. Or, if you’re feeling especially crafty, make your own soy candles.
Don’t buy new costumes. Instead, create a brilliant costume from upcycled thrift store purchases. Mix and match pieces to make a one-of-a-kind creation. Another way to recycle is by hosting a costume swap. As I mentioned above, also consider sewing or cobbling together your outfit. I was a carrot one year - I made felt for the 'leaves' and my roommate sewed the orange onesie-type 'carrot'.
Make Your Own Make-Up
Many commercially available Halloween face paints contain scary toxins including heavy metals and a variety of parabens, which are estrogenic (they mimic the estrogen hormone) and disrupt hormones. By crafting your own face paint, you control the ingredients and get to do a creative activity with the kiddos.
Bring Your Own Bag
One plain and simple way to green your Halloween is to bring a reusable bag. Give your costume some extra flair by making your own reusable treat bag. Use any crayons or felt-tip pens around the house. Don't forget to search behind the sofa cushions (THAT'S WHERE ALL MINE ARE!)
Bonus Tip: Take a Trip to the Pumpkin Patch
By going to the pumpkin patch, not only are you having a fun day out, but kids learn where pumpkins (and food) come from. They get to interact on a farm and choose their own pumpkins. You’re also supporting the farm directly.
Photo: The author's late mother Kathleen Leonard, a former elementary school teacher in California, enjoying one of her favorite holidays.
ECOlunchbox is a family-owned business striving to save the oceans from plastic waste, and has developed 100 percent plastic-free containers. Read more about this Northern California-based company here.