Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Eco-Friendly Halloween Part II: Greener Treats

Thank you all for your patience with me! I promised you another Green Halloween post weeks ago. Now it's October, and hopefully as the day approaches you'll find some of these ideas helpful!

Every year, millions of Americans hand out plastic-sheathed, corn-syrupy treats with pesticide-riddled ingredients to costumed tots at their doorsteps. Don't get me wrong, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups have always been a weakness of mine, and I'm sure as Jem gets older he'll be allowed an occasional nibble as well. However, with obesity rates and health problems related to processed foods on the rise, you might be one of the parents who chooses to go a different way this year.

I'm not suggesting you should try slipping carrot sticks and celery into the kids' buckets...we all remember that random box of raisins the neighborhood cat lady sneaked into our bags when we were little, that just floated around, ignored, till all the good stuff was gone. There are, however, alternatives to the big name candy brands that might help to put your eco-conscience at ease. The one you pick might boil down to how much time you have, how much traffic you expect to get going by your door, and how close-knit your community is.

If you live in a small, close-knit, kid-friendly community, you might consider making your own treats. Cookies baked with organic, unrefined sugar and flour, cut into Halloween shapes and wrapped in decorated foil or chemical-free parchment paper could be a great treat in such neighborhoods. Pesticide-free candy apples dipped in organic, fair trade chocolate would be extra special!  If you don't have time for homemade goodies or don't live in such a trusting neighborhood, websites like and YummyEarth sell organic, vegan and allergen-free candy in bulk (though the prices are, admittedly, quite a bit more than you'd pay for that mixed bag of brand name candy at Wal-Mart).

If you live in a high-traffic area with lots of kids you don't know dropping by, you might think about opting out of the edible treats altogether and going for something fun instead. How about non-toxic crayons (you can even recycle old used crayons), or coloring pages printed on recycled paper? Marbles are fun and fairly cheap and can be divided up into little paper baggies (though remember they are a choking hazard for kids under age 3). Here's a neat idea: rather than giving the kids more treats, how about giving them a fun way to recycle all of those candy wrappers when they're done with them? Starburst and Tootsie Rolls are very popular Halloween candies, and this tutorial shows how to make chains out of those wrappers that can be used to make jewelry, hairpieces, keychains or decorations for the Christmas tree (I used to make these with gum wrappers when I was a kid). Slipping a little copy of these instructions in a child's bag might help to keep some of those non-recyclable wrappers out of the landfill for awhile longer!

So which of these ideas will I be using this year?  I honestly have no idea. I'm thinking coloring pages and the candy chain tutorial might be the way to go for us...though I do hope to at least bake enough organic sugar cookies to give to the kids in the neighborhood whose parents we've already met!

I have bought some felt to make the bottom half of Jem's Halloween costume, and I have a friend with an awesome WAHM-made crocheted hat business, Happy Hats by the Girls, working on the top part (which he can keep using as a winter hat after Halloween is over). So what will he be? Well, I'll give you a hint: we're going to be dorks and we're all going with Harry Potter costumes this year. Hubby and I are planning to be Lupin and Tonks (I'm hoping I can find a natural way to temporarily dye my hair purple...blueberries, maybe?) Jem will be...something in keeping with the theme. :-)

Hope you all have a blast with your Green Halloween preparations! I know I plan to!

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