The morning after Halloween, candy wrappers and discarded costume pieces end up littering the streets like autumn leaves. Children (and let’s face it, enough of us adults) are pushed ever closer to the brink of diabetes. Party decorations and leftover snacks line city dumpsters, and stores begin liquidating all of their orange and black inventory to make way for the red and green. This time of year can be frightening for the environment, but with a few adjustments and mindful observations, your celebrations can be devilish without being destructive.
1. Fair trade and organic candy- If you are going to put yourself into a sugar-induced coma, you might as well ensure that your candy is free of artificial dyes and flavors. Certified fair trade treats make sure that the horrors and tricks of the holiday remain in jest and not encouraging shady business practices. For a list of sustainable sweets, check out naturemoms’ blog article for great recommendations.
2. Reusable candy sacks- Pillowcases are the classic renewable favorite, but tote and fabric grocery bags work just as well. Decorate your own bag with ghouls and goblins, or purchase reusable sacks like those available from ChicoBags and save it for Halloweens to come!
3. Recycled Costumes- The Salvation Army, Goodwill and local thrift stores are fantastic places to find costume material. Instead of purchasing new items, sew, mix and match pieces to create a unique ensemble that breathes life into an old wardrobe and won’t break the bank.
4. Halloween party can drive- With Thanksgiving around the corner, institute a party can drive to help those who are hungry feed themselves and their family this season. (I am proud to give credit for this idea to the epic Halloween rager that a local socially conscious San Luis Obispo house holds every year. Even some hoodlums have a heart!) SLO residents should check out GleanSLO, a group of farmers and volunteers that gather together to harvest produce and donate it the county food bank. Spend the day in an apple orchard to enjoy the fall weather with the family and do something good for the community!
5. Salvaged decorations- For our party this year, my house is using all recycled or salvaged materials to create devils, angels, and various scenes of the afterlife. Whatever was not acquired for free from Craigslist or reused from past celebrations was taken from dumpsters and local trash piles. With a little rooting, we were able to pick up gigantic pieces of cardboard, outdated newspaper for paper mache, and wood from discarded pallets. It may take a bit more time and ingenuity to round up all of the items needed, but it definitely makes for some colorful adventure stories.
6. Go natural- When given the choice between decorating your porch the styrofoam pumpkins or plastic corncobs, opt for the real deal. When they have outlived their purpose, add them to a compost pile, use them to feed the local wildlife, or reuse them for Thanksgiving centerpieces.
7. Walk instead of driving- Let the kids use their legs a little and work for that free candy when trick-or-treating this year. Resist the urge to drive to distant neighborhoods or bring along the golf cart. Bicycles are a wonderful way to get around, and as long as all traffic and safety laws are observed, an easy and enjoyable means of burning off a sugar-high.
8. Buy local- Purchase treats like apples, handmade chocolates and cider from neighborhood candy stores or produce stands. Money stays in the local economy and fossil fuels are conserved by keeping transportation distances to a minimum. In SLO, fruit and veggie lovers can find a CSA, farmers market or stand close to home by visiting Central Coast Grown. We are lucky to have Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, Tropical Chocolates and Sweet Earth Chocolates to satiate our collective sweet tooth.