Are you all set for a fun Halloween but spooked by the environmental impacts of your tricks and treats? Not to fear: There are lots of ways to get in the Halloween spirit without creating a scary situation for the planet.
First up: Costumes. This is a perfect time to mine the back of the closet or your local secondhand store. Inspired reuse is fun, and it beats a brand new disguise that’s racked up a remarkable carbon footprint on its trip to your local store – only to give off creepy chemicals that you and your fellow trick-or-treaters breathe in while you wear it. Dead-set on a store-bought costume? Why not host a neighborhood costume exchange? And after the holiday, save kids’ outfits in a costume chest for playing dress-up when the coming winter days call for indoor play.
Plastic snack and candy wrappers are one of the primary forms of non-biodegradable waste that ends up in our creeks, rivers, bays, and oceans. Think about it: All the plastic ever made is still here, even if it’s been recycled. In fact, the Pacific Ocean plays unlucky host to multiple gyres – tangles of floating plastic waste that’s made its way out to sea and been trapped in a tidal eddy – that can be miles wide. While pre-packaged edible goodies are best from a safety perspective, consider giving out treats that last beyond the post-trick-or-treating candy binge, such as small boxes of crayons, printed kids’ bandages, toothbrushes, or coins.
Halloween is never a popular time to hop on a healthy-eating soapbox, but if you’re concerned about the health impact of mass-market sweets, treat those who knock on your door to mini juice boxes or individual snack packs of popcorn or nuts. And as long as we’re talking about health, some makeup that’ll be slathered on kids’ sensitive skin can cause allergic reactions and may contain chemicals more appropriate for highway striping than for little ones’ faces. Do a quick web search for easy makeup recipes that are no more toxic than cake frosting.
Finally, carving a pumpkin or two? Consider a soy-based or beeswax candle to light up the night in lieu of petroleum-based options. And when November rolls around, don’t forget to compost that jack-o-lantern!