Eek-o-Friendly: Make this Halloween Green
When you think about Halloween, green does not necessarily jump to mind. It’s more like loads and loads and loads of candy suddenly appearing on table tops one and all. Whether you spot them in your office, in your pantry, or ultimately in your body, it’s little we can do to escape the candy coated invitation.
As for decorating, we haven’t strayed much from the old standards of orange and black streamers and plastic spooky arachnids in every shape, size and color. And let’s not forget the array of polyester costumes that surely should have a warning sticker reminding you not to stand too near an open flame [actually, most of them are sprayed with fire retardants]. You may be the chosen one to decorate your office or cubicle or the brave soul throwing a spook-tacular bash for your friends.
In the past there have been few choices other than shelling out cash for bowls of striped candy corn overloaded with high fructose corn syrup or ghoulish skeletons dangling in all their plastic joy, only to end up with their friends languishing lonely in a land-fill for the next hundred plus years.
Enter Green Halloween, “a non-profit, grassroots community initiative to create healthier and more Earth-friendly holidays, starting with Halloween”. Thanks to the remarkable mother-daughter team of Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson, we have mountains of green treasures to delight in this Halloween, without burdening mother-earth with scary left-overs. “Think outside the conventional candy box” says Colwell-Lipson.
Who Is this Extraordinary Duo?
Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are a vibrant duo to say the least. Lynn, a fun, full of life, inspired grandmother of four has spent the last several decades on a journey of careers that consist of the natural birth path as one of the first non-medical Lamaze birthing instructors, all the way to public relations and marketing for a number of organizations. Accomplished writer, and self-proclaimed “Renaissance Woman”, Lynn was the ideal choice to collaborate with Corey in creating a movement that would change the way we think about Halloween and it’s ghoulishly wasteful routine.
Corey is a wife and the mother of two children ages seven and four. She is also an eco-preneur, a writer and a licensed marital and family therapist/clinical art therapist. Obviously, Corey is a nut that did not fall too far from the tree. Like Lynn, Corey’s passion for friends, family and the environment have guided her to make choices in her own life that permit her, along her family, to tread ever so lightly on Mother Earth. Before initiating the Green Halloween movement, Corey was already the go-to-mama for friends and family when it came to making choices that were eco-wise, healthy and good for the community. Corey reflects, “Although I’ve learned a lot over the years and have a lot to share, I’m still learning and growing too. Leading a healthy lifestyle and reducing my family’s eco-footprint is an ever evolving process. My journey is made all the better when it’s shared with others who are trying to do the same.”
Why Give Halloween a Hard Time?
By this point you may be asking yourself, “can’t we just leave Halloween alone?” I mean, we all know and have come to accept some level of naughtiness to Halloween. We all know that the junk in our pumpkin trunk is bad for us. But sometimes it just feels good to be naughty. So, I guess the answer is yes, you can leave Halloween alone. The point is not to make your life difficult, or to create chaos and complication where there was none. But, it’s not really that simple. If we all turned away from making a few green choices on Halloween, the result would be just as they have always been. And that is just the problem. Things won’t get better out there all by themselves. Someone brilliant once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet
expecting different results.”
I think we’ve all come to agree on the need for change on our planet. Anything less would be insane. We all understand that there is more at stake here than a few extra calories consumed one night a year. It’s an overall attitude of waste and consumption that has created a world in which our health and resources are dwindling faster than they can be re-harvested.
Decorating with Black and Orange AND Green
Now for the fun stuff; when it comes to decorating green, you don’t have to give up any style to be sexy, scary, and oh so festive. Green Halloween founders Corey and Lynn recommend gourds, pumpkins, apples and other items from nature look great as accents on front porches and table tops. And for those of you like to add a little ghoul to your green, you can check out Fair Trade skeleton streamers; traditional art handmade by artisans from Mexico. These booo-ti-ful black streamers which are all cut by hand.
Here are the top three tips from Lynn and Corey’s upcoming book Celebrate Green!:
1. Avoid purchasing decorations.
- Re-purpose articles you already own.
- Borrow from friends.
- Search the internet for clever, cost-free ideas.
- Craft simple decorations from paper, fabric or natural materials from your yard.
- Instead of purchasing a new table cloth in a color matching your theme, see if you have any fabric, sheets, or even towels (depending on the type of party) that could serve the purpose. Or make placemats from recycled paper, newspaper, pillow cases or even clothing.
- Think simplicity.
2. If you do buy, choose local, handcrafted or fair trade.
- Many decorations, especially inexpensive ones, are made by people who are not paid a fair wage or treated as you would want to be.
- Consider the impact of an item that has traveled thousands of miles to get to you, only to be thrown away after one use.
- Be sure to choose organic flowers or those you’ve grown yourself without chemicals.
3. Avoid purchasing one-time use items.
- True, many decorations, those made of certain types of paper, for instance, can be recycled. But recycling itself can be costly to the Earth.
- Thinking about re-use before you buy will inevitably save you money and time.
Since I am a big foodie, this is, my favorite part…the FOOD; Lynn and Corey have thought through this Halloween celebration deal. I completely agree with the ladies’ notion of ‘What’s a party without food and drink? Not much fun for most of us.’ The choices you make in feeding your friends have an impact on more than their waistline. This can be a pretty stressful part of preparing for a party. But, according to Lynn and Corey, it does not have to be unhealthy or un-eco-friendly. And with a little creativity, can actually be fun, earth friendly healthy and delicious. Here are some of Lynn and Corey’s recommendations:
1. Serve real food.
- Yes, it’s easier to slit open a bag of chips than to slice and bake potatoes. But we have allowed convenience to rule our lives to the detriment of our health as well as the planet’s. There are so many healthy, simple recipes that can bring us back to real enjoyment and appreciation for what we eat. Isn’t it worth spending a bit of time?
2. When possible, choose in-season, local and organic.
- Food that travels thousands of miles to your home has been developed for traveling, not eating.
- Local organic wines and beer are becoming more common. Try them out.
3. Avoid overbuying and be sure to compost leftovers.
- Buy in bulk if possible. This saves on wasteful packaging.
- Be sure guests realize they can recycle by providing well-marked containers.
The Morning After
As you make your choices this Halloween, remember that being green goes beyond one night of decoration. It also means making choices that don’t add to the garbage heap whenever you can. Try to purchase items that you can reuse each year or recycled (even composted).
Lynn and Corey have three questions to ask yourself as you “Green” your Halloween:
- What can I replace the un-Earth friendly materials with?
- What materials can I go without?
- What can I re-use, re-cycle and/ or re-purpose later?
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Trick-or-Treat Treasure alternatives from Green Halloween:
Honey sticks, 100% fruit leather, polished rocks, stickers, soy or beeswax crayons, glass beads, seeds, play doh (store bought or homemade)
Greener Halloween On-line Resources:
Greener Halloween Gift Guide
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Photo courtesy of D’Arcy Norman