Corey Colwell-Lipson is a Mom on a Mission®!
February 20, 2013
By Guest Blogger Corey Colwell-Lipson, Healthy Child’s January Mom on a Mission® finalist, and founder of Green Halloween®
Editor’s Note: Healthy Child would like to congratulate our January Mom on a Mission® finalist, Corey Colwell-Lipson. Below, Corey shares her first hand account of the journey that led her to found Green Halloween.
In 2006, there were a lot of topics that sparked my fight-or-flight response, my Mama Bear mode: conventional cleaners, diapers in landfills, fire-retardant PJs. But few ignited stress and ambivalence like the holidays.
The fact is, non-toxic cleaners could be made, cloth diapers used, and flame retardant-free PJ’s found online, but holidays had no similar simple fix. As each holiday approached, a sense of dread crept in. Like most parents, I wanted my children to experience the joy of holidays, but as they grew older it became clear to me that “joy” had become inextricably entwined with “junk.” Junk being eaten, junk being worn, junk decorating homes and lawns. Halloween, Valentine’s Day, birthdays—you name it—were just not healthy for people and the planet.
It was hard to ignore the real implications of all this celebration-related junk. The stats were alarming: one in three children expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime, one in three are overweight, one in 13 suffer from food allergies. (My own children have autoimmune disease and multiple food sensitivities.) And there was more holiday-specific bad news: lead-laden face paints; fire-proofed artificial trees; child slavery rampant in the cocoa industry; cheap, petroleum derived lawn decor; costumes and cartoon-themed tablecloths made across the globe, used for a short time and then thrown away. And the artificial flavors, coloring and preservatives found in practically all packaged treats now positively correlated with behavior problems, even cancer.
And it’s not “just one day,” as is commonly uttered. The reality is that we celebrate a lot in this country—factor in all of the major holidays, birthdays (in some classrooms there can be one party a week!), and other family celebrations. I wondered if it might be possible to create a cultural shift towards healthier, more sustainable holidays and celebrations. I envisioned a world where “treats” were made with real food, costumes without hormone disrupting chemicals, and party ware without virgin trees. What if holidays could be healthy and yummy? Waste-free and wonderful? Non-toxic and cool? Ethical and easy? Sustainable and memorable?
In 2006, I hatched a plan. Using Halloween as the poster-child for holidays needing a serious health and eco-friendly makeover—if Halloween could be greened, anything could—I proposed the development of a non-profit, grassroots initiative. We’d need to make it easy and accessible, optimistic and entirely doable, family friendly, and of course most importantly: f-u-n. And we’d need the support of entire communities—of parents, retailers, brands, non-profits, and schools. After all, it takes a village to raise a revolution.
In partnership with my amazing mom, Lynn Colwell, Green Halloween was launched in Seattle in 2007. Today, Green Halloween reaches over one million people annually. In partnership with better for people and planet brands, millions of units of healthier treats replace conventional candy at public events coast to coast. And tens of thousands of households, schools, and entire communities say yes to keeping the tradition while losing the yuck.
Green Halloween, along with its sister-program National Costume Swap Day, launched in 2011, has been a labor of love fueled by the time, energy, creativity and generosity of so many. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Nothing has been more rewarding than to hear from parents whose holidays are happier, healthier, and less stressful after discovering Green Halloween. It has been an honor to be a part of creating real and meaningful change via such a positive and fun vehicle.
There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’re getting there, together, and writing a new future along the way. When our children are grown, I fully expect that “healthy” and “green” will simply be woven into the fabric of our traditions. There will no longer be a need for a revolution because of course treats for children should be made with real food, of course costumes should be safe, of course the planet shouldn’t suffer for our parties.
Know an amazing mom who is making a difference? Nominate her to be one of our Mom on a Mission® finalists! Learn more about Healthy Child Healthy World’s 2013 Mom on a Mission® campaign by visiting Healthychild.org/mission. A special thank you to our sponsors Ology and Unreal.
Note from Corey: I am deeply touched and honored to be included in the MOAM campaign! However, I am taking time off in 2013 to care for the health of my family and ask you to please consider voting for another candidate working actively for our children and planet.