Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Grinch of Halloween


Halloween is upon us! Next week all of the neighborhood children will be dressing up and going out to Trick or Treat or to attend Halloween parties. Costumes will be worn and the candy will be handed out until late into the night.

But I think its important to just stop and think for a second how we could lessen our environmental impact this Halloween. The more you think about the "holiday" of Halloween you realize how large the environmental impact can actually be.

Costumes. Imagine each child (and adult for those of us out attending Halloween parties) that is buying a new costume every year. After that one night of fun is over, where does the costume end up? Passed along to a friend for next year? Maybe? Packed away for next year? Possibly, but who wants to wear the same costume two years in a row? Thrown away to make room for other more important things you need to store? Very likely. Instead of going out every year to buy a new costume, consider what items you may already have in your house to create a costume for you and the kids. After Halloween is over you can return these items to their normal use within your house. For example, check out these creative recycled Halloween costumes.

Face paint. Now just about every child coming to my house has this face paint smeared all over their face. First we have the issue of the packaging and extra face paint which comes in the containers. Due to the fact that the paint will dry up before next year, most face paint is thrown away.The next issue is removing the face paint and either washing the toxic paint down the drain or throwing it into your trash, which by default could potentially end up in a water source. The last danger is that toxins included in the face paint will be absorbed into your child's skin while your child is wearing it. Consider looking for organic, non toxic face paint or perhaps make your own!

candy

Lastly, we have the candy. Bags and bags and bags of candy. Creating waste not only from the packaging for all of the large bags containing the pieces to hand out but also the individual wrappers on the candy pieces. Then there is always candy that the kids receive which no one in the house likes-so the solution, just throw it away. Of course, all pieces which look potentially tampered with should and are immediately thrown away. Then, as I have heard from people, sometimes after the kids are in bed some more of the candy will be thrown away just so the kids aren't consuming mass amounts of sugar. More waste is created when the kids receive the fresh baked goods packed in individual baggies, which again for safety reasons are thrown away instead of being consumed. Instead of creating all this additional waste consider saving the candy your kids don't like for a local food pantry, and also having them include some of the candy they do like as a life lesson.

To help have a greener Halloween consider hosting a green Halloween party at your house for your friends and your kids friends. Make it a requirement that all costumes must be designed from items which they already own and are repurposing for the night. Have fresh baked goods instead of individually wrapped candy bars. Play some fun games, such a who can eat a donut the fastest when it is hanging from a string from the ceiling. Or you could have a pumpkin decorating contest and see who comes up with the most creative design.

Anything to lessen our impact will make a difference! As you can see from above, even a slight "holiday" such as Halloween creates a large amount of waste, creating only a larger problem for future generations...

Remember, "Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children." (Ancient Indian Proverb)

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