Ah, autumn, one of the nicest times of year – especially in San Diego. The nights are starting to cool, the best seasonal ice cream flavors are beginning to appear, and Halloween is only weeks away. Somehow this has emerged as one of the most beloved holidays of the year, for children and adults alike. Parties, costumes, and mountains of candy all combine for quite the seasonal spectacle.
Of course, with great party comes great responsibility. One quarter of all the candy purchased in the US each year is for Halloween – about 2 billion dollars! Single-use costumes create tons of textile waste, most of which ends up in landfills. Additionally, many of these costumes contain toxic chemicals that pose hazards to both people and the environment. All this is to say nothing of disposable decorations.
So what is a Halloween-lover to do? Check out these tips to plan your clean, green holiday:
Decorate with natural items like warty gourds and dried leaves – it’s spooky and festive. I use raw cotton from my backyard for spiderwebs; other people repurpose worn-out tights for a similarly creepy effect. If you like kitsch, raid your local thrift store. A month in advance, they have an excellent holiday selection, are loads more affordable than other places, and you won’t be adding anything new to the earth cycle. Win, win, win!
What would the holiday be without pumpkins? Even if you’ve grown your own, a trip to the nearest pumpkin patch is great fun. Many patches have even begun to swap their giant inflatable slides for fresh, organic apple cider and beeswax candles! To make full use of your locally-grown pumpkin, roast the seeds. After the 31st, I even steam and puree my pumpkins to use in bread, pies, and these addictive garlic knots. By the way, make two batches. You will not regret it. If you’re not going to eat your faithful jack ‘o’ lantern, at least compost it.
Instead of purchasing brand new assembly line costumes this year, maybe pull together something unique. Of course thrift stores have great costume material, but before even heading out your door, try shopping for inspiration in your own home. Deep in your closet (or your partner’s, or friend’s, or the spooky attic or basement) you just might find Halloween gold.
Instead of wearing plastic masks, experiment with nontoxic organic face paint. Some brands, like Natural Earth Paint, even contain shea butter and other moisturizing ingredients.
Another option to consider is designing your own mask from recyclable materials. If you’re not the crafty type, you can even download templates for a seriously earth-friendly disguise. Seriously, check out these masks. They are freaking awesome.
Trick or treating
Many children (and adults) would claim it’s not Halloween without at least a little candy. Despite the many treat alternatives such as fruit leathers, raisins, and toothbrushes, chocolate is by and large the favorite. This year, look for non-GMO candy like Endangered Species Chocolate. This company donates 10% of its net profits to organizations devoted to protecting wildlife and humanitarian efforts. It also carries pretty much every green certification out there, and it’s fair trade and vegan!
For your own trick or treating expedition, bring a pillowcase instead of the plastic bucket that will 1. break partway through the night and 2. never, ever decompose. Remind the kids that pillowcases hold way more loot 😉 For something more stylish, turn one of your reusable shopping bags into a spooky sack using whatever markers or fabric paint you have lurking around. Très eco chic!
Happy green Halloween planning!