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Green Your Halloween: How To Have a Safe & Eco-Friendly Holiday

Green Your Halloween: How To Have a Safe & Eco-Friendly Holiday

October 16, 2013

By Meredith McMahon, Outreach Manager

Halloween! Have your kids been counting the days since last year? You’re not alone. It’s arguably a favorite family holiday, but our celebrations can be haunted in unexpected ways if parents aren’t careful. Not only are Halloween costumes, fake blood, and even candy potentially contain everything from lead to hormone disrupting chemicals, but also the piles of Halloween-related waste are downright scary. Here’s how to celebrate the fantastically fun day without any Halloween nightmares:

HALLOWEEN HEALTH CONCERNS

  • Make sure your kids’ Halloween costumes—not to mention your own!—are crafted from safe materials. Far too many store-bought versions are made of unsafe plastics like vinyl aka PVC, filled with hormone disrupters or even lead, a potent neurotoxin.
  • Avoid conventional face paints marketed for Halloween dress-up. Tests conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics discovered that many contain heavy metal horrors like lead and chromium. Some lipsticks also contain lead. If your kids don’t want to go bare, use the safest makeup you can find instead.
  • When it comes to outfitting a Halloween costume, avoid VOC-filled nail polishes and fragranced products made with phthalates, an endocrine disruptor. If your little witch needs dark nails, choose a version free of formaldehyde, toluene, and phthalates. If you can apply outside or with the windows open, even better.
  • Does a costume call for different hair? Use wigs and hats instead of spray-on hair coloring made with synthetic chemicals that are a bit too mysterious.
  • Masks and cheap Halloween props like fake teeth made from rubber and vinyl frequently contain lead paint and chemical plasticizers. Kids can actually absorb these while wearing them. Creepy! Forgo or make your own masks with paper maché. Fake blood is usually made from an unsafe dye in a petroleum base, so avoid it, too. If you or your kids are the creative type, try whipping some up your own fake blood with cornstarch and beet juice.
  • Halloween Candy: When your kids trick or treat and wind up with unhealthy Halloween candy, trade them! Offer organic treats made from whole foods and free of ingredients like corn syrup and artificial dyes. This doesn’t mean no chocolate, just to be clear. There are plenty of lovely natural and even organic/Fair Trade chocolates to be had! Same goes for jelly beans and the like if you really want them. Just choose organic, naturally dyed versions. If you’re throwing a Halloween party, recipes for olive eyeballs, pretzel stick fingers, and other treats are easy to find online. *See more Halloween treat tips from our blogger community below!
  • To make your Halloween pumpkin glow, keep in mind that most candles are made from paraffin, a petroleum by-product that releases toxic compounds when burned. Candles made from beeswax or soy—unscented or scented with natural essential oils—won’t leave anything terrifying behind.

WASTE CONCERNS

  • Swap Halloween costumes. There’s no sense in going out and buying a new costume you’ll quickly trash after several hours of celebrating. Hand-me-down costumes are always a treat. Or work together to make a unique costume out of clothes and items you already own. For more inspiration, check out GreenHalloween.org.
  • Having a Halloween party? Send paper-free invitations using free online services like Evite. Or DIY using recycled paper, cards, and magazines.
  • Make low-impact, recyclable Halloween decorations. Cut gravestones from cardboard. Create spider webs from yarn or string. Create atmosphere with bare branches, dry leaves, pumpkins, and gourds.
  • Use real plates, cups and utensils. For themed fun, glue spooky pictures to the bottom of glass plates. Trim porcelain with designs drawn in naturally colored frosting. Decorate cups with washable marker.
  • Compost leftovers to feed next year’s pumpkin crop!
  • Have kids make their own Halloween party favors using recycled and recyclable materials—like monsters made from used cans and toilet paper tube bats.

Green Halloween Tips from Real Moms:

*And now for some extra sweet alternative tips from our blogger community about skipping hand outs with too much sugar, fat, chemical additives, and other unappetizing things. There’s nothing wrong with giving healthier choices to the little monsters at your door!

  • Denise from WholesomeMommy.com says honey sticks make “a great, sweet, real food alternative to candy!”
  • Becky, the Crafty Garden Mama, has a daughter with a peanut allergy so she stocks up on organic gummy treats.
  • Anne, the Flour Sack Mama, likes dye-free and preservative-free alternatives to favorite candies, and says there are lots of better choices these days.
  • Jennifer, the Happy Tot Mom, says Halloween pencils and stickers are always a hit and are inexpensive when purchased in bulk. If you prefer food, she suggests boxes of organic raisins.

When your kids trick or treat and wind up with unhealthy candy, trade them! Here are some of ways our fellow parent bloggers make this idea work:

  • Suzan of Happy Mom Blogger swaps Halloween candy for loose change her son can use to get something better than candy.
  • Natalia, author of Generation Pure, tells us that before the big night, she lets her toddlers pick out one piece of organic chocolate at the store. When trick-or-treating is done, they trade their basket full of junk for it, and, she reports, “They could not be happier!”
  • To keep her son from overloading on junk, Jennifer, the Happy Tot Mom, has the ‘Switch Witch’ visit her house on Halloween night to replace the candy with a special non-candy surprise!

 

For more from Healthy Child, check out these related articles: 

  Avoid Toxic Food Dyes to Reduce Hyperactivity and ADHD

•  Avoid Risky Food Additives & Preservatives 

•  5 Tips for Greening Your Holiday Parties

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