Hallowe'en is just around the corner, and for some of us, the spookiest, scariest part is how much waste will be created. How can you help your kiddo to have a fun, enjoyable, safe Hallowe'en without all the plastic? Here are a few ideas about how to make your holiday more eco-friendly, from decorations, to costumes, to the all-consuming candy dilemma.
Think organic, edible, recyclable and reusable.
Compostable: One of the best decorations for Hallowe'en is a pumpkin, of course! Pumpkins can be placed on the porch as decoration, carved into scary shapes, and you can also use smaller gourds and miniature pumpkins to add to the festive vibe. Getting a pumpkin from a local farm supports the community and is more sustainable than a big box retailer. Remember to choose a sustainable soy or beeswax unscented candle (or a flashlight works well, too). Compost your pumpkins when you're done and make sure to roast the seeds for a tasty snack!
Recyclable: From construction paper bats and spooky spirals, to scary creations made out of egg cartons, the possibilities are endless. The materials can be ones you have around the house or simple construction paper free of glitter and shine that can be recycled.
Reusable: Sometimes you can invest in some decorations that can be used year after year - we have a Dia de los Muertos ceramic skull that is creepy, pretty, and durable. We also have ghostly steel tins that hold candy and can be used over and over. If there is a particular decoration that is plastic but can be used over and over for many years, it's much better than a single use, cheap one that just gets tossed out on November 1st.
COSTUMES & MAKEUP:
Try upcycling, recycling, repurposing, and going clean!
The best way to have a sustainable costume is to use clothing and accessories you already have at home. I used to raid my mom's closet for gypsy ideas, and a ghost or witch can easily be created from household items. Encourage creativity for wacky, clever costume ideas. Other options include a costume swap where parents bring used costumes to trade or checking out your local thrift shop. For a candy bag try a recyclable canvas shopping bag (will hold a lot of loot!) or if you have a plastic pumpkin, make sure to keep it and reuse it year after year.
For makeup, try to avoid the very cheap face paint found online and in craft stores that is often contaminated with lead and other chemicals, untested and unregulated. When a sample of commonly found face paint for kids was tested by the Campaign for for Safe Cosmetics, nearly half of them contained lead and cadmium, and some contained up to 4 metals. Other elements found included parabens, endocrine disruptors, formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds. For a safer option, consider using makeup from a clean beauty company that screens its products rigorously for heavy metals - we will be using Beautycounter this year!
This is the hardest one for me. Obviously, wouldn't it be great if we could make homemade treats or hand out apples? For safety and allergy reasons, candy has to be packaged and separated, which can mean a lot of wasteful packaging.
Some better options include:
- Non-candy items like pencils, crayons, coins or tiny playing cards in paper boxes
- Candy wrapped in foil (Peppermint Patties, or chocolate honey coins found at Trader Joe's)
- Candy in a paper box (Junior Mints)
- Organic options like Yum Earth and Wholesome are often made more sustainably, without pesticides, dyes, artificial flavor and color, gluten-free and lower in sugar.
- Buying in bulk can sometimes help, putting all (wrapped) candy in a bowl rather than in additional individual bags
- Avoid treats with nuts, or if you must, keep them in a separate container clearly marked so allergic kiddos don't run the risk of contamination and just tossing them out once they get home.
If you have sustainable, conscious Hallowe'en tips, we would love to hear them! Have a safe and happy Hallowe'en!