Don't you love when the air gets crisp, the leaves turn and start to fall? Fall is definitely here, which means Halloween is around the corner. It is my husband's favorite holiday. He says it's because of all the candy. I have to disagree.
I believe it is possible to enjoy a holiday without abusing our planet, surrounding ourselves with toxins and feeding our bellies unhealthy foods. So I've gathered some tips and ideas to help us have a green Halloween and still enjoy those things that makes it a holiday!
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
- Decor. When decorating your home, or a party, chose decorations that have been previously used or that can be used again; shop thrift stores, have an exchange with your girlfriends, or have the kids make some decorations. I Found this blog through Pinterest that rounds up 7 eco-friendly halloween crafts for kids.
Let mother nature help you decorate. Use pie pumpkins as decorations; you can use them to make homemade pumpkin puree (for baby, pies, smoothies, coffee creamer, lots of creations!) and replace them as needed. Go to a pumpkin patch and let the kids pick gourds, use straw that can later be used to mulch your fall garden.
Make ghosts out of pillowcases and sheets. Make a scarecrow with straw and outgrown cloths from the kids. You can go all out and make a whole family of scarecrows after your own family!
- Party supplies. If you are throwing a party, whether it is for the kids or the kids at heart, use reusable supplies. Just think to yourself "where can I reduce waste?". Cloth napkins are a great option. I like using thin face cloths as kids napkins, plus they are very inexpensive.Try to use real plates, cups, and silverware. It's more work, but think of all the waste going to landfills, our planet's resources used to produce all those disposable items, and the impact it would have on planet Earth (and our wallets) if we didn't use any disposable party supplies!
If you really must use disposable items go for compostable spoons and forks, or these biodegradable bamboo plates that can be reused for up to 6 months.
2. Real Foodify it!
- Avoid GMOs. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are animals or plants genetically altered (altering the DNA) to remove or add desired characteristics. GMOs contain a much larger quantities of pesticides and herbicides, and their long term health repercussions have not been fully studies. You can read this article for more information.
- Avoid Food additives. Avoid processed foods and foods that come prepackaged because they contain not only GMOs, but also an array of food additives. Some of those are: processed sugar like HCFS (more on HCFS), dyes like tartrazine and FD&C Yellow 5 and Blue 1 that can alter a child's behavior (source), emulsifiers like gums and soy lecithin, and stabilizers like benzoates, nitrates, and sulfites.
- Real Food to the rescue. Kids can still enjoy treats without the damaging effects of processed foods; chose real ingredients, look for chocolate that is certified organic and fair trade. Having a party? Serve homemade treats like these mini ghost peeps or these ice cream cookies.
What about trick or treaters? As much as I want to pass out toothbrushes and apples (my husband won't let me, and I don't want my house TP'ed) I believe there are tasty alternatives; organic and fair trade chocolate as mentioned, these organic lollipops, and fruit leather. If you are throwing a party forgo the usual favor bags full of candy, you can add mini boxes or raisins, apples, stickers, and small toys (avoid soft plastic as they may contain PVC). If you are feeling crafty you can make this pumpkin spice playdough, put it in containers like these ones, and adding them to the favor bags!
3- No toxins!
- Costumes. A quick Pinterest search for homemade costumes will keep you entertained for hours. No need for new and expensive costumes. Many of them are made cheap plastic full of PVC, which is a carcinogen (source) and gives off gasses called VOC, or volatile organic compounds like dioxin, responsible for birth defects.
A costume exchange with other moms is a great idea, children's consignment stores have great deals, too.
- Makeup. If possible avoid costumes that require makeup. The cosmetics industry is not regulated in this country, and very harmful chemicals can be found in conventional makeup, ever more so, on cheap Halloween makeup. Lead, nickel, and cobalt, neurotoxins, can usually be found in lipstick. According to the Environmental Working Group most of the ingredients used in makeup are not even listed make it impossible to decipher what's really in them. (Read here the top 10 chemicals to avoid in beauty products.)
- Don't light up my fire. Who doesn't love a jack-o-lantern, or those apple cinnamon spice candles, right? The problem with candles is that they are made of paraffin, a derived from petroleum. When they burns they send VOC into the air, contaminating it.
Fortunately there is an easy and safe solution. Beeswax candles. I am not a fan of soy candles because even those are usually made with some paraffin. For indoor use beeswax candles are great, they are very durable and nontoxic. For inside your pumpkin my favorite trick is using LED tea light.They are extremely inexpensive, durable, and do a great job a lighting up that pumpkin!
I Hope this Halloween is green, fun and safe for you and your kiddos!
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