With Halloween around the corner, there are a million and one advertisements for costumes, candy, and decorations. If you’re making a conscious effort to go green, all the consumerism might be a bit discouraging. But it turns out you can enjoy the holiday without ignoring your eco-instincts. In this guest post, Chris Keenan offers some handy green tips for Halloween.
- Instead of investing a lot of money in a throwaway costume, why not make your own costume? If you don’t have the sewing prowess for the task, thrift stores are your friend. And places such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army often offer used quality costumes at very affordable prices. Another option is participating in a costume swap, where you can meet similar-minded people and maybe snag a unique outfit.
- When it comes to candy, the aisles of Snickers and Reese’s might seem alluring, but have you considered giving out healthier treats? If you shop at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, you’ll be sure to find organic treats that kids can still enjoy (granola bars always work!). If you’d prefer not to hand out candy altogether, organic markets usually offer small trinkets that are made by environmentally conscious organizations.
- Looking for earth-friendly ways to adorn your home? Sustainable decorating isn’t as tricky as you might think. While stores offer plastic skeletons and fake cobwebs galore, you can find plenty of inspiration for green decorating at your local farmer’s market. Keep things spooky by carving pumpkins (and making pumpkin snacks), or give your home a friendly festive touch with the help of cornhusks, bales of hay, and gourds. For more Halloween accessories, try stopping at the thrift stores. You could even decorate your garage door with Halloween fabrics that you have lying around your house. Also, be sure to store your decorations safely so they can be re-used next year.
- Want to enjoy an autumn feast complete with candlelight? Remember that traditional wax candles can emit toxic chemicals like benzene–soy candles are healthier and longer-lasting.
- When your kids go trick-or-treating, don’t forget to arm them with reusable canvas bags like the ones you might take to the grocery store. Plastic pumpkins are unnecessary and are a waste of space since they’re often only used once a year.
- Finally, consider reverse trick-or-treating, a new project being promoted by Global Exchange. The idea is for children to hand out fair trade chocolates and cards to adults to raise awareness about the environment–visit the site for more information.
I hope these tips will help you stay green this Halloween! Do you have any more tips on staying eco-friendly this year? Let us know in the comments below!
Chris Keenan is a green and general blog writer. He writes for many sites including Precision Garage Door. Chris also maintains a personal house and garden blog.
Photo credit: Sister72, some rights reserved.
Halloween has evolved from a Celtic harvest celebration to an American consumerist celebration. But the green blogosphere is buzzing with creative ideas to give your holiday a smaller footprint.
GreenHalloween.org is leading the way with advice for kids, parents, and schools. Meanwhile, Treehugger and its sister site Planet Green have even more handy tips. Here are some of my favorite ideas from around the Web.
- Make your own costume. DIY costumes are one of the latest trends in green. All you need is some old clothes, recycled aluminum foil, and creativity.
- Carry two bags: one for treats and one for trash. Decorate a reusable bag for the candy and carry a second one to help keep the streets clean of wrappers and other litter.
- Choose a “walking” neighborhood. If that’s not possible, consider carpooling as alternative way to reduce your Halloween pollution.
- Instead of the traditional sweets, look for brands that are natural, organic, or Fair Trade-sourced. Better yet, give out homemade treats!
- Light your jack-o-lanterns with soy candles, which last longer than wax candles and come from renewable crops.
- Eat and decorate locally. Pumpkins, gourds, straw bales, and corn husks can often be found at local farmers’ markets. If you host a party, serve up snacks made from fresh, seasonal produce. Pumpkin pie, squash soup, carrot cake, and apple cider are a few examples. Check Local Harvest to find farms near you.
- Go reusable! Who needs disposable plastic cups and plates when you have real dishes. If you must use plastic, be sure it’s recyclable.
- Support Fair Trade with ‘reverse trick-or-treating.’ As a way to highlight the plight of cocoa farmers and to showcase the benefits of Fair Trade, the folks at Global Exchange have started a Reverse Trick-or-Treating program to help raise awareness while collecting goodies on Halloween. It’s really easy. Sign-up through the ‘Reverse Trick-or-Treating website to receive samples of Fair Trade chocolates, along with some cards that outline the program. Kids hand out the cards and samples to adults when they go to the door on Halloween.
And if you need a reason to green your Halloween — and the rest of your life — think about this. The kids whom you see trick-or-treating will grow up to face the impacts of our actions today. Every generation inherits the mistakes — and the smarter choices — of those before it. Even small actions, like greening your holidays, can add up to make a big difference for you and for them.
For years, vinegar has been used in a variety of household tasks. Lately, it has seen even greater popularity as a natural substitute for toxic chemicals. We can always use vinegar to spray down a countertop (or one of 1000 other things) and feel thoroughly green about it.
Or can we? It depends on what your vinegar is made of.
While vinegar can be made from natural ingredients, such as corn or apples, it can also be made from petroleum.
What? You mean the dirty fuel that I oppose the production of and avoid using whenever possible is in my vinegar? You bet.
From a Heinz press release:
The majority of vinegar users (89 percent) said they didn’t know that their vinegar could be sourced from petroleum, while 79 percent indicated that if they discovered their vinegar was sourced from petroleum, they would switch to an all-natural vinegar. With no current requirements to disclose ingredient sources on labels, many consumers may not be able to tell how their vinegar is made.
Now, natural vinegar is still a green and incredibly useful product. Heinz advertises that its vinegar is never made from petroleum, so it’s a safe choice. Other companies, like Spectrum, offer organic vinegar.
So, you can keep using vinegar and feeling good about it. Just make sure you know where it comes from.
Image from eHow.
So, you’ve started composting, right? Right? Okay, in a month or so, when you have a heap of soft, fertile, compost, what are you going to do with it? The simplest and most obvious use of compost is gardening.
Organic gardening is easy whether you live on a ranch or in an apartment. You just need some space, regular sunlight, a few pots, and some soil to grow tomatoes, peppers, and beans. Once you get started, you will find the process of growing vegetables very rewarding.
As more negative findings on pesticides come out yearly, and prices of organic produce at the supermarket continue to be restrictive, gardening is a cost-effective way to eat healthy, chemical-free food.
If you cannot grow enough variety in your space, try to buy produce from organic farmers. To find a local farmers’ market or farm near you, go to Local Harvest. eHow also offers a helpful article on starting an organic garden. Last but not least, Nature’s News has a great post on the benefits of shopping at a farmers’ market.