Why do mummies have trouble keeping friends? Because they’re so wrapped up in themselves! [Insert slow creepy laugh here]
Now that we got that out of the way, onto the ghosts, goblins, gourds…and greenbacks? The National Retail Federation’s 2009 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conduced by BIGresearch, estimates Americans will spend $4.75 billion on Halloween this year.
Regardless of how you spin it, that’s a lot of candy wrappers, carved pumpkins and monster masks headed to the trash the next day. So, how do you spell out a green H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N? Check out our eight favorite ways.
and Out Organic Treats
From organic lollipops to organic gummy bears, many companies specialize in making healthier alternatives to traditional candy. YummyEarth offers organic treats with no chemical colors, artificial flavors or corn syrup, and they are easy to find, sold at major retailers like Toys ‘R’ Us and Whole Foods. Trader Joes offers a line of organic lollipops as well.
If you’re planning some good old fashioned apple bobbing or candied apple decorating, consider locally-grown organic apples as your source. Produce grown near you minimizes the emissions associated with travel from the source, supports local economies and “organic” means you won’t have artificial chemicals in your cider.
As the weather turns cooler, our thoughts tend to turn to warm and hearty seasonal dishes like fresh breads and casseroles. Perfect timing, as autumn yields various fruits and vegetables in their prime, ready for the picking.
Most produce in the U.S. is picked four to seven days before arriving on store shelves and shipped an average of 1,500 miles before its point of purchase. This autumn, consider purchasing local, seasonal produce for those apple pies and green bean casseroles. Apples, figs, potatoes, squash, sweet corn and pears are just some of the many foods best enjoyed this time of year.
ight the Path
Turning off the lights and cranking up spooky effects plays well into the theme of the night, but safety should always be a top priority. Consider lighting your walkway with solar garden lights and walking your trick-or-treaters around with solar flashlights.
An investment in solar garden lights can prove a long-term investment, with a return on investment of 47 percent over 10 years.
itter Bugs Beware
The ultimate test of strong will is a child who can resist munching a piece of candy or two as they continue to trick-or-treat. Assuming the aforementioned event is inevitable, make sure you don’t become a litterbug by dropping those candy wrappers along your route. If you’re going to munch, make sure the wrappers are placed in your trick-or-treat bag. And while we’re on that subject, may we just suggest a reusable bag as a great alternative to molded plastic jack-o-lanterns or plastic-based Halloween bags that you may toss out instead of reuse.
Make a game of picking up candy wrappers along your trick-or-treat route. Though not recyclable curbside, wrappers can be sent to companies like Terracycle for upcycling into backpacks, tote bags, cell phone holders and laptop sleeves. You can even earn money for your favorite charity or school by collecting the wrappers, chip bags and drink pouches by setting up a Terracycle drop off location.
utfit of Recycled Materials
From cardboard boxes to sheets in the linen closet, the building block for a great Halloween costume might be closer than you think. According to the National Retail Federation, the average person will spend $56.31 on Halloween this year, with a part of that dedicated to costume purchases.
The savings aside, most mass-produced Halloween costumes are made of synthetic materials, making their manufacturing both energy- and resource-intensive and their recyclability nearly impossible. Creating a costume from recycled materials just might make the most sense this year, both environmentally and economically. Not to mention your costume will likely be one-of-a-kind.
Not feeling like a DIY project is in the cards for you this Halloween? Check out your local thrift store for a great find. Return the costume to the thrift store when you’re done, and you’ve taken recycling a step further. Try reusing a costume you’ve worn before (this author went as a pirate three years in a row). Change up a few accessories and your costume recycling should go unnoticed. Or exchange a costume with a friend – stamp it with your own creative flair and no one will be the wiser!
alk the Neighborhood
Joe Candy may have mapped out his route, filled his car with gas and calculated the amount of houses he could hit up if he sticks to the speed limit and implements the “tuck and roll” approach, but he may have lost touch with the Halloween spirit, in the end.
Walking the neighborhood with friends and family allows for good conversation, additional costume exposure, proactive exercise for the candy-induced calorie fest and reduced carbon emissions associated with vehicles. Lowering the number of cars driving around the neighborhood that night also adds to trick-or-treater safety.
ach and Every Part of the Pumpkin
When the doorbell has gone silent and the costume parties have ended, it’s time to start getting rid of those seasonal gourds that have adorned our doorsteps and front lawns for nearly a month. As easy as it may be to toss them out, each and every part of the pumpkin can be reused or composted, making the life of Mr. Jack-o-Lantern seem a bit more meaningful.
Every year, a staggering one billion pounds of pumpkins are produced in the U.S. Unlike other Halloween decorations, these orange gourds are sold sans packaging, making their recycling as natural as it comes.
Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without carving your pumpkin into a political character or fang-ridden zombie. Pumpkin seeds and “guts” are removed when hollowing out the gourd and, lets admit it, usually tossed in the trash. The seeds can be separated from the pumpkin flesh, washed and baked on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes, and voila, as simple as that, you’ve got a classic fall treat! The insides can be composted, adding much needed nitrogen-rich “greens” to the mix.
If your pumpkin is still fresh, the meat can be puréed for soups, mashed for pies or baked with bread. There are great step-by-step recipes out there for easy cooking. If you’re not up to the challenge, consider donating your pumpkin to a local zoo or wildlife center, as many accept the pumpkins as feed for birds and wildlife.
ext Stop…Clean Up
Once all the festivities have winded down, the inevitable clean up begins. It’s time to think about recycling that party waste, donating those costumes to a local charity or storing them for future use, raking and composting those autumn leaves and responsibly disposing or storing of those spooky decorations.
Though not as fun as the setting up, decorating and preparing, clean up is an important part of minimizing your environmental footprint after the holiday has ended.