Halloween’s just a few spooky, ghostly—balmy, in some parts of the country—days away. If you think about it, with all those wrappers from individual candies, costume clothes worn once, and pumpkins carved then thrown in the trash, it’s a pretty wasteful holiday (though not as bad as some, as we discovered for our Nov-Dec issue; scroll down to “Numbers Game”).
With that scary motivation in mind, Corey Colwell-Lipson founded Green Halloween, to change the focus of the holiday from sticky, sugar high-inducing treats to those less harmful to the Earth and to children. In 2009, the movement that Colwell-Lipson started in her small corner of Washington State made its way to cities across the country from Los Angeles to New York City.
Mother-of-two Colwell-Lipson offers some great tips on how to tone down the eco-harm this Halloween. (These are just a few. The Green Halloween website has many other fabulous ideas.)
- Swap out the sweets. Giving out toys in lieu of candy seems an obvious solution to a healthier Halloween. But remember, plastic toys are just as bad—some might say worse—for the environment than candy wrappers. Try a few of these treat alternatives: fruit leather or fruit snacks, granola or breakfast bars, seed packets (though careful of giving these to anyone too young), or toys made
from recycled materials. Click here for a full list.
- Jazz up old jeans. Or any clothing for that matter, and turn them into a snazzy get-up. No need to purchase pre-made costumes that may contain toxic dyes or come from petroleum-based products. This is a perfect opportunity for hand-me-downs. And though it’s too late for this year, think about taking part in National Costume Swap Day next Halloween; events happen many places across the country.
- Institute a household trade. Allow your children to trick-or-treat, let them pick a few pieces of candy to eat, then offer them made-up currency—Colwell-Lipson suggests “pumpkin points”—for each piece they trade in. With enough currency, they earn a non-candy treat, whether it’s an activity they’ve wanted to try or something else they’ve been eyeing. If it’s doable in your area, recycle or compost the leftover snacks.
- Compost the pumpkin. After the last trick-or-treaters head home and the holiday buzz subsides, you'll still probably have a jack-o-lantern staring you in the face. Don’t dump it in the garbage, but instead, compost it. If you don’t have a bin at home (here’s how to start one, if you want to learn), search for composting in your city, like these from New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Need any more motivation to make small changes this Halloween? Check out these stats from the U.S. Census: In 2008, there were 36 million would-be trick-or-treaters and Americans consumed 23.8 pounds per capita of candy.