Green Trick or Treating

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Halloween was an ancient Celtic practice, hopefully now transitioning into an Eek-o-friendly event.

A blend of rituals and traditions where the dead can return to earth, it is now celebrated as a children’s holiday that ushers in the winter season.  Score one for the Irish.

Oct. 31 has become an event with pop up stores inhabiting vacant high-traffic retail locations and candy and sweets the dominating answer for the question, “Trick or Treat?”

You can make the green more than skin deep this Halloween.

Having young children, Halloween has become a favorite holiday.  Perhaps you have kids, grandchildren or just want to act like one for an evening.  Here are some tips to consider when preparing for a green Halloween.

First up, proper planning.  Start talking and seeking solutions early.  Put your comments and questions on Facebook, emails and out there for consideration while having coffee.  Let others know that sustainable choices are acceptable and the cool thing to do.  Late decisions tend to limit options.  Convenience is often the enemy of the planet.

Let’s look at costumes, totes, home decorations and what to hand out.

Think back to your childhood memories.  Your Mom likely did not order costumes online or even from a catalog.  We prepared costumes largely from things we had in our home or borrowed from the neighborhood.  We did not buy the cowboy outfit, we combined things in our closet with things we played with every day, complemented by our mother’s glorious and thoughtful additions.  Being the oldest, my hand-me-downs, or Jimmy-downs, were sold to my brothers with great anticipation for next year’s costume.

Think old school.  Think adaptive ReUse. Borrow, trade, purchase used or do it yourself. String old ping pong balls for a Wilma Flintstone necklace.  Make butterfly wings from coat hangers.  If you cannot resist the temptation to buy new, then perhaps that becomes your signature costume for decades.  Hello fat Elvis.

For the Halloween tote, even a princess can carry an old pillowcase that has been magically transformed in to a work of majestic royalty.  Hunt around your home for some bag, something that will hold treats and get creative, have fun with it.  Buy new blank reusable totes and decorate them with the plan of utilizing them for years to come.

Treat totes can be anything.  Purses, flower pots (cover the hole), cloth sacks, backpacks, lunch boxes.  Search those closets.  To complement a pumpkin-carving party, with local pumpkins of course, you could decorate and customize totes.  Throw in some reflective tape for heightened security.

When decorating the home, consider integrating nature.  My brothers and I would grab my Dad’s clothes and stuff them with leaves for the hobo or scarecrow.  You could use old newspapers and start a family tradition.  Pumpkins, gourds, straw bales and cornhusks can be gotten from local farms.  Take a family trip to Roger’s Gardens for inspiration, solutions and pumpkin-carving workshops.

I am planning some horror-ific fun with an eco-haunted obstacle course.  A bat cave of old sheets over chairs.  Spider webs of hula hoops with cotton batting.

Ideas for what to hand out:  I get the stigma of the little old lady who handed out apples and was labeled the neighborhood freak, with the big kids spreading rumors that razor blades were carefully added.  My guess is that the parents will have a harder time than the kids with the “What will people think?” question.

Does it have to be candy?  You could consider visiting the dollar store for stickers, temporary tattoos, spider rings and the like.  You could offer a choice, start there.  Perhaps your local bakery is offering solutions?  Ask questions of your merchant, let them know that local sustainable choices are what the community wants.  We could all start this year, build momentum into the future.  It will be easier to change to a healthier event if the proverbial Joneses start making healthy choices for the kids and the planet.

My wife lets my kids binge on their treat totes for a couple days.  No lingering stashes.  Feed their face, then gone.  Balance that with good eating habits surrounding the ceremonial eat-candy-like-there-is-no-tomorrow event.

These aren’t all the answers, but are offered to inspire creative green thinking, early.

Please visit this column online to offer your favorite green and sustainable ideas and traditions.

Send your sustainable Halloween surfing costume pics to [email protected].

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  1. I once made my daughter as a basket of flowers, I used an old bushell basket from who knows where and we stapled flowers all around the inside, held it up with ribbons for suspenders and she wore a straw hat with a gift card on it from the floral store. I think it cost me 50 cents for the ribbon and she was a hit people stopped her on the street to take pictures