Halloween Done Sustainably
Halloween is a blast. It’s one of my favorite holidays. It’s full of traditions and symbols that are a deep part of American culture. If you were born after 1950, you know what the Great Pumpkin is. If you were born after 1960, you know who Mike Myers is. If you were born after 1980, you probably remember the Great Halloween Blizzard. But, most recently, we have been blessed to find our latest Halloween symbol: Macklemore.
That’s right. The funky rapper/artist/fashion trendsetter/deal hunter from Washington has set millions of people across the world on the new traditions for Halloween.
Actually, that’s wrong, but I’ll be using Macklemore as a mascot anyway. So come with me as we can find new ways to make Halloween more sustainable than ever.
Do-It-Yourself – Let’s get right to the nitty-gritty. Buying Halloween costumes is EXPENSIVE! Unless you plan on using this costume at least twice, it’s not cost-effective. Instead of buying a Halloween costume that you or your children will wear once and then throw-away (or at least donate to a thrift shop), make your own costumes from clothes that are hiding in your closets. You can get inexpensive Halloween costume materials if you just act like Macklemore and go to your local thrift shop. OR you can go to yard sales to help your neighbor. OR your children may have fun trading costumes with their friends. Use makeups instead of plastic masks. BUT, don’t buy over-packaged makeup kits. Choose a brand that you could use over again next year!
Macklemore shows what savings can be found at your local thrift shop.
Covering your house in fake spider webs is just doing the work of the pranksters for them. Macklemore looks down on that. There are dozens of ways to position your house to win the spookiest house in the neighborhood award for Halloween AND do it sustainably, to boot. Here’s a couple ideas for your pumpkins:
Paint that Pumpkin! – Pumpkins have a strong tradition based in Halloween. Originally used to scare off evil spirits, carving pumpkins have turned into a beautiful art form. But, instead of simply using the pumpkin once, try using the WHOLE pumpkin. Here are some cool ideas that don’t require you to carve into the pumpkin, saving the pumpkin to be used for making pies or enjoying the roasted seeds afterwards.
Buy Local Pumpkins – Continuing on the topic of pumpkins, one of the best ways to shorten-the-circle in terms of buying local is by going to local farms. Similar to buying a premade costume, purchasing out-of-state pumpkins can generate a ton of carbon emissions. Invest in local farmers. It matters big-time. Also, you can make an afternoon of it with your family. Many local producers have games, corn mazes, and other seasonal fun included in the price of the pumpkin. Go find it!
Using your house as a canvas is a wonderful way to show your spooky spirit. Here’s a few ideas for how to decorate sustainably. The first thing little kids will see when walking up your sidewalk will be your yard. If it’s early in the evening before the sun has set your lawn can be a perfect way to set the mood. Using old cardboard boxes (pizza boxes work, too!) you can create your own personal cemetary. Once the sun has set, you can use old toilet paper roll tubes and a glow stick to make a set of eerie eyes.
However, you can make a real impression at your front door. With a little creativity, you can turn your entryway into Frankenstein’s monster.
Macklemore chooses the right topping for his Mummy Dogs.
Non-candy Treats – There is a running cultural joke of the well-meaning but off-the-mark individual who hands out toothbrushes or acorns for treats during Halloween night. Now, you can be that individual! Just Kidding! There are a ton of cool things you can hand out for your little trick-or-treaters. Look at baseball cards, seashells or temporary tattoos. There is a downside to handing them out, though. The packaging and transportation of these tchotchkes can make them too harsh on the environment, so maybe look at something made closer.
Healthy Treats – There are the traditional treats like apples or raisins, but some other ideas could be honey sticks or homemade popcorn balls. If you’re running out of time and can’t make your own treats, be sure to include candy that is either fair-trade produced or has no artificial colors or preservatives. Your little trick or treaters will thank you.
When You’re Out and About
Homemade Candy Bags – Don’t use a plastic grocery bag to store your haul this year. Instead, you can simply use a pillowcase, bucket, or even a cloth reusable grocery bag. These will be useful again next year and reduce garbage.
Walk or Ride – There are certainly instances where you would want to bring your children for Halloween fun (such as grandparents houses or local farms). Good ol’ Macklemore would recommend a moped, but, however, when able, there is a quaintness in walking around your own neighborhood. So, get to know your neighbors, walk around the block, and enjoy the exercise.
Macklemore avoids using his car while trick-or-treating.
When You’re Entertaining
Fun Snacks – There are so many fun things to do with food for Halloween. Here are a few fun snacks for your Halloween party.
Mummy Dogs – A simple kid favorite with a crescent roll wrapped around a hot dog.
Marshmallow Ghosts – A fun dessert with chocolate chips and fluffy little marshmallows.
Cheese Fingers – A delicious appetizer with mozarella sticks and almonds.