October 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm
Sustainable Living Guest Blogger: Kate Ruffing
Admittedly, Halloween is my favorite holiday. Dressing up in spooky costumes, decorating the house, and enjoying the pageantry and emotional drama of an eve filled with candy stuffed kids. This year we took a stab at turning our Halloween “green”. As with many of our adventures, we learned a lot but this holiday still has room for improvement especially in the “treat” department. We focused our attention on creating sustainable decorations for the home, homemade costumes, and of course, low impact treats for the Trick-or-Treaters (TOTs).
We sought to find decorations that were spooky without the scary impact of plastics and imported products (as there is a lot of gas used to transport items from abroad). Our family embraced a “Killer Chicken” theme, given that this is what we are known for and hit our local resale shop to find items that could be repurposed into decorations. As luck would have it, we happened on some paper-mache chickens, old bed sheets, and clothes, which we stuffed with newspaper to make “headless bodies”. A discovery mission to the garage uncovered swing-set chain to drape over railings and scrap wood and old house paint was used to create signs to warn visitors of their pending doom. We purchased two hay bails to help set the stage. For our traditional Jack-o-lanterns, we visited a local organic u-pick farm and kept the seeds to plant in our garden for next year. Ironically the chickens and compost pile will help us dispose of the hay, newspaper, and jack-o-lanterns, while the other items will be reused.
First, we reach out into our local community and see if anyone had an old costume to borrow or purchase and found a group of moms who had set up an online costume exchange. When our creative ideas could not be found in ready-made costumes, we sought to create our own by visiting the deep recesses of our closets and resale shops. Needing inspiration, we searched the internet for DIY costume ideas and were instantly over-loaded with ideas. We loved the Octopus with arms made from old tube socks and the Jelly Fish constructed with a clear umbrella. If your costume calls for make up, try making your own from household items.
This was the real trick and we have yet to find an ideal solution. We explored making our own, like caramel apples or similar, but with the fear of poisons or sharp objects in Halloween candy, we didn’t think that would work universally. Also, if you have more than 30 TOTs it is not very practical to make all those treats. We discussed giving away fresh fruit, but that was deemed “totally lame”. I searched in vain for organic, fair-trade milk chocolates but then ran into the dilemma of all the plastic packaging. Purchasing candy from the bulk bins to avoid the packaging raised concerns about the sanitation of unwrapped products. We finally decided on bulk bin, foil-wrapped, organic chocolates as the best compromise.
I hope you find some solutions to trick out your Halloween and turn this fun holiday into one that is not as environmentally scary. Our search for environmentally treats “to be continued…”
Follow Kate Ruffing’s Sustainable Living adventures and discover solutions for your family at www.KateRuffing.com