Some things are scary.
Ghosts, goblins, vampires and bats.
And some things are really scary.
Genetically modified foods. Toxic face paint. Insane piles of garbage.
And then there is the combination of all of these things into one frightening event:
Be scary, but don't spook our cherished kids and precious planet.
Halloween produces more boos, eeks, screeches and ding dongs than we should tolerate.
In an attempt to make sure my kids don't hate me, and my neighbours, family and friends don't ridicule me (although I have gotten used to this by now), I will simply try to inspire each of you to have a less scary Halloween (since, I do realize that boycotting the holiday altogether is a little ambitious and un-spirited - for this year anyways). I hope you will read this and adopt as many of our simple suggestions for a smarter Halloween and then choose to share them with others.
Since Halloween involves community, support yours.
Buy your organic pumpkin at a farmers market, or better yet, go and pick your own. Growing a conventional pumpkin takes an awful lot of pesticides (they are a very heavily “treated” crop) and they take up too much space in landfills, releasing greenhouse gases as they decompose after their single use on Halloween. Be sure to take full advantage of your entire pumpkin by roasting the seeds (yummy and very healthy), make a soup or pie, and compost the rest of the pumpkin when you're done.
Another easy one - walk, do not drive. Stick to your neighbourhood, talk to your neighbours and enjoy the crisp fall air. It's a bonus to squeeze that exercise time into your busy day.
Use a costume you already have (…or made the mistake of buying years ago - inappropriately and ironically, my husband has a Hershey’s kiss costume he has worn for almost a decade, yes, seriously. He knows it's only a matter of time before he will be convinced to dress as a green roof or an organic carrot).
or, make your own costume.
If you do not have costumes already, then make your own! (and please, NO toxic face paints - check all of your makeup at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com!). Do you remember dressing as a ballet dancer or hockey player? Of course, and it’s easy. How can you justify putting on an off-gassing, store-bought, made-in-China, phthalate-laced, over-packaged mask by choice? A few costume ideas that are bright, easy and comfortable: a Whiteboard (all white clothing with a pen on a string around your neck and people can sign you - now that is interactive!), a Compact Flourescent Lightbulb (again, all white clothing with skinny white balloons in twisty shapes on your head), a Ghost (with an organic cotton sheet, of course), a Jelly Fish (dressed in pink and opening and closing an umbrella).
Instead of turning on every light in your house, use your opened, used cans for exciting and even elegant decor! Take the labels off, punch holes in each can (faces or patterns) and fill them with organic soy or beeswax candles. Wait until you see the amazing lights and lanterns you have created. This is a great year round project (since you shouldn’t use that many cans anyways!) and this trick is reusable year after year - just keep adding to your collection.
Do you know what’s in your cans? Eden Organic cans of beans are bpa-free - a healthy choice!
Widely available at retailers everywhere
Bribe your children.
I hear ding-dongs going off over this one. But anyone who says that bribery doesn’t work has never been a parent. Offer your kids their very own, entire cake of their choice BEFORE they go out, in lieu of taking and eating any of that garbage! And then, when out, participate in reverse-trick-or-treating (find details at www.globalexchange.org) or just visit each house and do the trick thing instead of taking a treat.
Bake your own, or try this!
Sweets From The Earth Chocolate Fudge Cake
Low in saturated fat, no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or refined sugars, nut-free, 100% vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, lactose-free, gmo-free and certified kosher yet full of decadence.
Available at Whole Foods, Pusateri's and other smart retailers
Give out real treats.
Treats are treats. Kids love treats. You love your kids. What to do??? Every store has those colourful boxes lined up on shelves ready for us to buy (think of the resources wasted just to get those boxes printed and on shelf!). I shudder to now think of the artificial colours and flavours, refined, over-processed ingredients and dyes (that I know will be banned someday) that I put into my own body. If you are not keen on giving out pencils made from recycled materials (stop rolling your eyes), try Pure Fun Lollipops, or another organic, nut-free snack with minimal garbage!
There’s a sucker born every millisecond at Pure Fun! Only the finest non-allergenic ingredients like organic rice syrup create these Pure Pops with a consistent “WOW THESE ARE GREAT” factor.
In natural food sections at Loblaws, Metro, Walmart and other smart retailers
Of course, use a reusable bag.
You can always use a pillowcase (you know the one you used before you switched to sleeping soundly on organics.) But, if you do not yet have strong reusable bags, get a RuMe (www.rumebags.com) (or ten) already! They are gorgeous, and strong enough to carry around 50 pounds (if you can). There is a size for everyone in your family (even men love these bags...imagine that!). Huge bonus: RuMe Bags are made in a fair trade factory. With over 50 patterns and colour options, you can even choose one to match your costume!
Better bags, made a better way (oh, and, they are machine washable!)
Check out the huge collection of these amazing bags at www.rumebags.com or in Canada at - think ahead to the holidays as there is not much difference between a trick or treat bag and a reusable gift bag!
Think about your drink (before you leave home!)
Make sure when you leave your home on Halloween, you take your own bottled water (a.k.a. The original Klean Kanteen filled with tap water). If it’s chilly, take a warm beverage in a reusable mug that you’ll enjoy while you are out and about in your neighborhood.
In 2004 Klean Kanteen™; introduced the first personal hydration bottle made from stainless steel to give health and environmentally conscious people an alternative to plastic. We have yet to see another bottle company, stainless or otherwise, that makes a product comparable to the high quality, handcrafted bottles or that commits to strong environmental and labor standards.
Klean Kanteens are available at smart retailers across the world.
Beware of phantom power.
The energy is sucking the life out of your bank account and the environment. You thought your electronics were all off at home? They are not really off, they're just on stand-by. Exorcism procedure: Unplug stuff! (or use a power bar and shut it down completely).
Walk around all charged up.
Use a a solar charged, crank powered, or shake and shine flashlight. No batteries required. Think of solar energy powering your blackberry in case of emergency! There are many options, just be sure to purchase one of good quality that will last and not end up in landfill as quickly as everything else on a typical Halloween.
Eton has a fabulous range of products powered by alternative energy.
Available at The Source, Future Shop and Roots locations
The Moral of our Halloween Tale:
Reduce because you easily can,
Reuse as much as possible, and
Recycle the balance (which is hopefully, not much).
Extra Boo for thought
We know it's not "safe" to give out unwrapped treats + fresh foods, so how can an over-packaged, over-processed piece of candy be any safer or more trustworthy?