Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Green Halloween in NYC

Halloween has never been a favorite holiday of mine.  It falls smack in the middle of a very busy September/October and much preferred the November/December holidays. For the Freen however, Halloween is second only to Christmas. This year the Halloween books came out Labor Day weekend.  Seriously...

I'm not sure why Halloween was never my cup of candy corn.  I remember well wonderful parties at my old friend Ulla Johnson's where her mother would take a group of girls up and down East 86th Street trick or treating in every building that would let us in and even some that didn't.  Yet somewhere between the 6th grade and my twenties, I lost interest.  Of course as with all holidays, once I became a parent, Halloween became much more fun, especially when we moved to the country and I was able to experience trick or treating in a whole new way.

Regardless of where Halloween ranks in your Holiday favs list, it can no doubt be less wasteful and gluttonous.  I'm not going to suggest you hand out lightly used books or even recycled party toys because I think that is just mean....but I do have a couple ideas for how to minimize your Halloween foot/fat prints.

Green Halloween Costume Ideas

I tried the DIY costume thing for a couple years, even with clothes that the Freen could wear again but; it wasn't less expensive, the costumes weren't any cooler, and it took a lot more time to piece them together.  So after two years of that, I started buying Rubies Character Costumes which brought the Freen significantly more joy than the Cowboy and Diego costumes I struggled to piece together.  They are well made enough that he wears them for dress-up during the year and he has slept in his Spider Man costume more than once.

Of course if you are talented with a sewing machine go for it, but remember that just owning a sewing machine doesn't make you talented.  I remember my mother trying to be creative each year, but that creativity generally meant that I spent Halloween explaining who I was.  Remembering this and going through two failed attempts of my own at DIY, I eventually went back to buying. Besides, store bought costumes are much better than the colored garbage bags we had when we were young.  It is pretty hard for a home grown costume to compete now unless you have a real talent for it.

That said, they don't have to be brand new.  Start an exchange with your friends.  The Rubies deluxe costumes are well made enough and generally sized so they fit for a couple years. If your friends aren't game Craigslist and Ebay are both great resources for used costumes and I've also heard good things about the Green Halloween's online costume swap.


Finding an alternative to already overpriced candy isn't easy.  We live in a building with over 250 apartments, organic candy for 20 packs of greedy children would set us back quite a bit.  Last year a five pound bag of Yummy Earth lollipops set us back $30 and didn't make it through the night.  In general my thought process goes like this, don't bother with pretzels or raisins...that just isn't what Halloween is about, so if that is how you are going to be, just don't play.  If you really want to avoid giving candy, try a selection of mini plastic cookie cutters, pencils, temporary tattoos, or sticky hands and let the kids pick a treat. Note, while you can feel good about not contributing further to childhood obesity, you are still contributing to the growth of your local landfill.  Ultimately you have to pick your battles.

For your trick or treating skip the light sticks (they can't be good for the environment).  For the bag skip the plastic trick or treat buckets. They are never big enough. I purchased a nice $5 tote at the grocery store three years ago and it is ready to go this year.  If you are up for a project, purchase and decorate a reusable bag from ReUsableBags or Amazon.

If your children are old enough to consider sacrificing their Halloween treats for a charitable cause the 60 year old trick or treat for Unicef program is still up and running.

Pumpkin Carving

Easy - Save the seeds, roast them. Yum! For organic pumpkins go to Amawalk Farm in Katonah and since you're in the neighborhood be sure to stop at Muscoot Farm for a hayride.

Last year we saved the smaller sweeter pumpkins and baked them for homemade pumpkin pie.  It was fun but it was hard work and I'm not sure it was worth it.  The results were the very comparable to Farmer's Market Foods canned organic pumpkin which shaves about three hours off the prep time.

Eco-Halloween Parties

Pumpkins go a long way as do acorns, pine cones and leaves.  For paper decorations use your kids' school projects.  I save everything, so I still have the black cat the Freen decorated with glitter in nursery school. If you don't, go crazy with black and orange construction paper, glitter and cotton balls.

Instead of store bought cards, use Evite for your Halloween Party.

The Freen's Halloween Reading Recommendations

The Freen loves his Halloween books.  Here are a few of his favorites.

Room on a Broom
The Ugly Pumpkin
Rattle Bone Rock (no longer in print but by far his favorite so if you see it, be sure to pick it up)

Please share any other tips you have for a Happy Green Halloween!


Anonymous said...

LOVE the costume swap idea! That is brilliant.
Growing your own pumpkins by buring the seeds and jack-o-lantern from the year before is fun; we did that this year and are hoping to have a good crop next year.

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