Friday, October 31, 2014

Six Simple Steps for a Greener Halloween

While Halloween can be an environmental nightmare, there are some ways to make it far less ecologically destructive. Here are six simple tips to help you and your kids enjoy a greener Halloween. This is also a great opportunity to communicate the practical applications of environmental sustainability to your children.

1. Decorations

Instead of buying materials for decorations, make your own using materials you have on hand. Avoid the technological gadgets that get used but once a year and often contain toxic materials that do not biodegrade.

Because they naturally biodegrade, pumpkins, gourds and leaves are some of the best decorations. Buy pumpkins from local farmers or better yet grow your own. Use the seeds in your pumpkin and the flesh. If you do not eat your pumpkin make sure you compost it rather than throwing it out and having it end up in a landfill.

If you are going to use electric lighting make sure to use highly efficient low energy LEDs.

2. Costumes

Use old clothes to cobble together your own costumes or shop at thrift shops, second hand stores and yard sales, instead of buying retail.

If you must buy a costume, try to find places that swap costumes rather than buying a new one.

3. Parties

If you are throwing a party avoid disposable tableware and other décor.

Composting all remaining organic matter and recycle other items.

4. Treats

Make your own treats like candy apples or buy locally produced candies and treats. Try to purchase those with minimal packaging or packaging that is made out of recycled materials that will biodegrade.

Make sure that what you buy uses sustainably sourced ingredients. More than half of the world's cocoa is grown in West Africa (Ghana and Ivory Coast) where child labor, trafficking and forced labor are prevalent. To address these problems buy fair trade certified cocoa that meets various labor, social, and environmental standards.

5. Trick-or-Treat Bags

Use (and decorate) household items like cloth (eg pillowcases), paper bags or even a bucket instead of ones made out of plastic.

6. Walk Don't Drive

As much as possible walk to parties or when trick or treating with the kids. This reduces your carbon emissions.

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