It’s not too early to start planning for Halloween. If you’ve been in any retail outlet over the past few weeks, you've seen that Halloween costumes, decorations and treats abound.
If you want to have a green Halloween (and I hope you do!), you’ll want to use the next few weeks to plan ahead. Last fall I wrote about ways to green your Halloween. This year’s column offers a few new ideas and recommendations along with some of the old tried and true.
Over the years, we have given candy, popcorn, pretzels, playing cards, and have offered a mix of more healthful choices along with, or instead of, sweets. My kids cringe when I go the healthful route (lest our house become known as “that” house) so we try hard to find a happy, healthy medium. Fortunately there are lots of great choices for every budget. Some appealing options include honey sticks and organic lollipops.
When you can, buy local. I once again recommend Trader Joe’s, My Organic Market, and Whole Foods for more healthful options. For fair-trade chocolate, give Ten Thousand Villages a call. If they don’t have enough mini-chocolate bars on hand, they will order some for you (with a 10 percent discount for bulk purchases). To ensure you are well stocked by Halloween, place your order with store manager, Kate McMahon, at 703-684-1435 by Oct. 22.
Online, the Nature Candy Store offers lots of organic and fair-trade treats. If you go the online route, plan extra time (and money!) for shipping. Some sites offer free shipping for a minimum order. Check with friends and neighbors to see if they'd like to place an order with you to avoid shipping fees altogether. The Daily Green offers a great list of healthier and more sustainably produced treats.
Some in our neighborhood offer alternatives to snacks and treats. Instead, we have gotten crayons, puzzle books, Halloween-themed drinking cups, etc. If you go this route, consider packaging, sustainability and usefulness. Avoid items that are likely to break or be destroyed quickly, or wind up under the couch or in the trash.
We have been making homemade costumes for years using materials we have at hand. It’s a tradition that grew out of my own childhood. Thanks to a particularly talented brother, our family’s costumes were often the big hit of the school-ground halloween parades. We’ve made a skeleton, a dog, cats, bats, witches, and characters from the Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter. You’ll be surprised and thrilled to see what you can come up with when you restrict yourself to using only what you already have at home.
Not up for that challenge? You can still get a costume without buying new:
- Plan a costume swap with friends and neighbors. Host a snack potluck: invite friends and neighbors to bring a favorite treat along with customes they no longer need or want and let the fun begin!
- Post a request for costumes on Freecycle. It’s a great way to share things you no longer need with people who do.
- Shop local consignment sales. Our Kids offers one of the best guides to local consignment sales in the D.C. metro area.
In addition to the recommendations from last year to decorate for the season vs the holiday and use natural elements (pinecones, leaves, pumpkins, and gourds) and reusable materials (newspapers, plastic bags, old clothes, old sheets, and egg cartons), here are a few additional suggestions:
Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill pumpkin sale, now in its 19th year, donates 100 percent of the sale proceeds to more than 20 organizations including the Carpenter's Shelter and ALIVE!. Offering pumpkins in all shapes and sizes (along with baked goods and other treats) daily between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. beginning on Oct. 7 through Oct. 31. You are sure to find a pumpkin you’ll love.
Skip the plastic decorations and opt for homemade scare crows using old clothes stuffed with hay purchased at your local garden center. A quick web search for Halloween craft ideas will yield many hours worth of scissors-slinging fun.
If your freshly carved pumpkins will be illuminated by candles, go for candles made from soy, vegetable, or bees wax instead of petroleum-based products. They reduce the level of pollutants released into the air when the candles are burned. Look for candles sold in a recycled metal tin versus candles individually wrapped in plastic.
If you string lights, string more energy-efficient LED lights instead.
Whether you are buying candy or candles, pay attention to the packaging. Buy products packaged with recycled materials and ones that use as little packaging as possible.
What you are you favorite ways to green Halloween? Tell us in the comments section.