|Seven Tricks to Green Halloween|
by Michele Berger, Forbes
October 30th, 2012
This Halloween, the trick-or-treaters will be out in their ghoulish splendor, scoring sugar-laden loot by the bucketful, then wolfing it down piece by chocolaty piece. All that candy generates one serious bellyache—and some serious waste. But celebrating Halloween doesn’t have to include every established tradition. This year, why not swap one of them for something a little more eco-friendly, say making your own decorations or mixing up some homemade face paint? Here are seven ways to green your Halloween without giving up any of the fun.
1. Trade costumes with friends. Halloween outfits get worn once or twice for a few hours. Swapping with a pal means saving money—the average consumer spends about $30 per costume, according to the National Retail Federation—and it lessens the clothing’s environmental impact. “Swapping half the costumes kids wear at Halloween would reduce annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons,” says Corey Colwell-Lipson, founder of Green Halloween, a non-profit aimed at making Halloween less harmful to the planet. No need for a big soiree to exchange get-ups; bringing together a few people works, too. Search National Costume Swap Day for an event nearby.
2. Cook up face paint in your kitchen. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 10 face paints for heavy metals in 2009, and the results would spook anyone: All contained low levels of lead, and six had allergens like nickel, chromium, or cobalt. Mixing face paint in your kitchen actually isn’t tough. Start with a thick substance like unscented lotion or pure cocoa butter, then add natural food coloring or edible elements: blueberries for blue, beets for red, cinnamon for brown, you get the idea. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics offers recipes. To prevent adverse reactions, always patch test on the inside of the wearer’s wrist, Colwell-Lipson recommends.
3. Give candy wrappers a second life. If you simply must eat the candy Halloween brings—admittedly, most of us do—try something unique with those Snickers wrappers. For the craft-minded, take on a project like this colorful pouch or these cute barrettes. For a simple solution, send the trash to TerraCycle’s Candy Wrapper Brigade. The company, which donates two cents for every waste unit collected, takes wrappers of any size candy and from any brand. Poof, your garbage becomes a notebook, a tote bag, even a park bench. Since the Brigade began three years ago, nearly 5.5 million wrappers have been upcycled instead of heading to a landfill.
4. Get crafty. Spook your neighbors with your spectacular skill. Colwell-Lipson suggests, for example, making a candy collector from an empty coffee can. “Every year, put the date, what [your child] dressed up as, and a little note until they’re done trick-or-treating,” she says. The craft becomes a family memento. For decorations, get creative: make ghosts from old sheets, tie cobwebs with black yarn, or fill empty jars with colored liquid “specimens.”
5. Stock up on green candy. No need to give up sweets just to lessen your environmental footprint. There’s candy-with-a-cause sold by companies that donate a percentage of profits to charity. Or maybe you focus on organic or fair trade products, which consider environmental impact (the former), as well as economic and social criteria (the latter). You could ditch the treats altogether and instead give out non-food items—what Colwell-Lipson calls treasures—something like seed packets or toys made from recycled materials.
6. Use the whole pumpkin. Purchase one that’s local, preferably from a nearby farmers’ market rather than the grocery. Here it’s helpful to procrastinate; the longer you wait before getting your pumpkin, the longer you have before it rots. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins—those that typically get carved—are edible, but according to the University of Illinois, a smaller variety called the sweet pumpkin is best for cooking. When carving the orange globe, save the innards and seeds for eating, and at the holiday’s end, compost the gourd. (Check out this Audubon blog post for more tips on using the whole pumpkin.)
7. Toss out routine. Try reverse trick-or-treating, a Global Exchange program where children give out fair-trade candy or a note explaining the initiative. Or plan a progressive Halloween with stops at several homes. “Go to each house and have one activity and one treat,” says Colwell-Lipson. For example, drink apple cider and play pass the pumpkin, then move on to the next place for different food and fun.
Dentists are even in on the action, participating in a program that buys back candy from kids then sends it to troops overseas. So no matter how big or small your sweet tooth, there’s a shade of green for you this Halloween.