An Eco-Friendly "Trick-or-Treat"
Are you ready to have an eco-friendly Halloween? Our MOBstirs and Youth team have come up with some really great ideas to help you and your friends keep your Halloween fun and healthy! Check it out...
Once associated with magic, mystery and superstition, the more modern-day Halloween celebrations are a time for costumes, spooky decorations and, well of course, candy! And with the growing population, it is no surprise that commercialization has turned this once simple traditional holiday into a multibillion dollar business. Celebrating more than 2,000 years, Halloween is the second largest holiday after Christmas; the United States alone spending over six billion dollars on decorations, costumes and candy. Unfortunately, this also means that there is even more waste and pollution being produced as a result. However, don’t let this ruin your holiday extravaganza, there are many ways to slow down and even prevent this negative impact on the environment from this ghostly holiday.
Here is the eco-friendly way to get your spook on this Halloween:
Dressing-up for the part
When it comes to Halloween the first thing that comes to mind is the costumes. Whether they are silly, elegant, or down right scary, costumes don’t have to be new. The costumes purchased in the store are cheaply made from non-recyclable polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and often don’t make it through the night ending up littering the streets until they are eventually sent to a landfill. Rather than purchasing a mass-produced costume, use your imagination and create your own unique costume!
First, start in your very own closet, branching out to other family member’s closets and your friends’ closets; those old clothes tucked in the far back, they make for perfect Halloween costumes! Be creative! You can dress like a hippie, a zombie, a rainbow, and even a rainbow-hippie-zombie (again, be unique and creative, it is Halloween!). If you don’t want to use your imagination, borrow or rent a Halloween costume, and remember to return them on time!
Instead of going to your local drug store for Halloween make-up, raid yours or your sister’s/mother’s/grandmother’s/aunt’s etc. make-up first (make sure to get there permission!). Household products, such as ketchup, Elmer’s glue, starch, Kool Aid etc., can work perfectly to create a gory look without harming your health. That is correct, your health can be in jeopardy if you apply Halloween make-up to your skin.
According to Healthystuff.org Halloween make-up contains small levels of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and other chemicals that are known to contribute to reproductive and developmental disorders, neurological problems, memory loss, immune system disorders, kidney and renal problems and even cancer; not to mention what these toxic chemicals are doing to the environment when you wash them from your face. It is always better to be safe than sorry, so use your imagination!
Decorations fit for the environment
Halloween occurs during autumn when the leaves are falling from the trees and pumpkins are ripping on vines. What better decorations than what nature can provide for us! Start by turning off the lights, creating an eerie mood and cutting back on carbon emissions at the same time. Light candles - preferably beeswax, soy wax or vegetable wax - avoiding paraffin wax at all costs. Did you know paraffin wax has 11 known airborne carcinogens? It also produces soot, which is both bad for your health and the environment. Keep the spirit of Halloween alive by carving an assortment of pumpkins, placing candles in them to illuminate their spooky eyes; be sure to save the seeds! To create the ghostly effects hang old yarn or unused string and fabric from trees and in the windows for the perfect spider web.
It's Party Time
Every year the little ones go trick or treating and adults use the day as an excuse for a grand party. Let’s make a change this season! Let’s reduce our party waste, use eco-friendly party décor, and try some yummy vegan recipes! Anything can work as long as you focus on ways to improve our planet and give back while having fun!
Minimizing waste: Using disposable paper plates, napkins, cups and disposable plastic silverware is easier for cleanup, but what you might not realize is that those disposables lie in a landfill decomposing for years. Use cloth napkins, eco-friendly cups, plates, and silverware. If being on a budget restricts that, then use what you have at home and after the party fill the dishwasher to its maximum capacity. Then use cold water, rather than warm, to conserve energy!
Left overs? Throwing perfectly good food away will produce methane gas as it decomposes in the land fill. Methane gas is too abundant, but food for the homeless isn’t. Look for community organizations, or a local church that collects left overs to donate your food to!
Cooking: Before heading to the supermarket, to avoid over-shopping create a list of ingredients you NEED and don’t have at home. Support your local farmers and buy as many products as you can from them. Pumpkins are finally in season, so buying one huge pumpkin can help you create multiple recipes and you won't have wasted any of the pumpkin! Carve the pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern and save the seeds! Or boil the entire pumpkin and save the seeds! Baking pumpkin seeds with a small amount of salt can provide a healthy treat!
These are some super yummy recipes which allow you to use your entire pumpkin in various ways! The following recipes ask for canned pumpkin puree, but fresh pumpkin puree is better! Click on each one to find out how to make your own!
Make sure to re-use or recycle everything you use. Donate old costumes to charity centers or pass them onto someone else. Place the old pumpkins into compost piles and store your crafty decorations for next year - Halloween does come every year!
Want to recycle that old costume instead of throwing it away? Check out greenhalloween. Every year they coordinate a Halloween Costume Swap/Exchange. In 2012, it'll be on October 13th. They can also share details on how to organize one on your own in your area.
And remember: If it's the candy that you want to recycle, check with your local dentist's office to see if they'll exchange your candy for cash or fun treats like pencils, stickers, gift cards, etc. Many dentists will do so to promote a healthy living lifestyle.
Have a younger sibling or a neighborhood family with younger kids? Consider passing your costume down to them for next year's use. Or my personal favorite, and a tradition that I hope to start; host a "Tume-A-Thon": A party where everyone comes with an old costume and you pass them around and have a mini shopping exchange so that everyone leaves with a new costume. Turn it into a big ole' party with food, drinks and some good times all aimed at reducing, reusing and recycling. You could also throw in some face painting tips, and make some goody/treat bags while you're there. The party doesn't end until everyone has a costume or enough pieces to make a costume from reclaimed/recycled materials.
Although Halloween is spooky, it still can be green! Have a safe and environmentally friendly Halloween!!!
Click here to find some non-toxic DIY Halloween make-up
Click here for some eco-friendly Halloween decoration ideas