Green Halloween a healthy alternative for mom, kids


From: Courtney Cairns Pastor, The Tampa Tribune

Corey Colwell-Lipson, left, and her mother, Lynn Colwell, show children eco-friendly treats that are healthier options than candy. The mother-daughter pair founded Green Halloween in 2007. (Image source: The Tampa Tribune)

I’m torn between two Halloweens.

This is my son’s third Halloween, and the first one he kind of understands. We’ve been reading books about costumes and trick-or-treating, and when he saw the costume I got him (top secret!) he immediately tried to put it on over his pajamas.

I have responded with enthusiasm approaching manic. You like pumpkins? Let’s get fake pumpkins and spray paint or decoupage them plus carve a real one and toast the seeds. You thought the paper bats at day care were cool? Mommy’s going to make her own and hang them all over the dining room!

Trick-or-treating? Sure, we can do that, and we can also visit the pumpkin patch and corn maze and Lowry Park’s Zoo Boo, and you can wear one of the three Halloween shirts I got.

I know. It’s excessive. I’m already feeling guilty, and I haven’t even bought the bags of candy. (Yes, bags. Plural).

That’s the side of me that’s ready to flee to Whole Foods for a Green Halloween.

Part of a national movement, Green Halloween encourages a holiday that’s good for your health, community and planet. It’s been in Tampa three years, and the official event takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 29 at Whole Foods, 1548 N. Dale Mabry Highway, with a kids’ costume contest, local vendors and store trick-or-treating.

Organizers hope it will inspire you to change how you celebrate. You might make a handmade costume from items around your house; decorate with leaves, straw, gourds or apples that you can eat or compost; and pass out organic goodies or earth-friendly trinkets at your door.

It sounds like such a healthy alternative to the commercialism and overindulgence that has taken over Halloween and keeps us racing until New Year’s.

Do I really need to spend too much at the craft store and eat too much junk food just a month before I’ll be spending too much at the grocery store and eating too much butter — and two months before I’ll be spending too much, period, and eating too much everything?

I could get into this, I thought, as I browsed the eco-tips in the Green Halloween parent guide. Until I got to the suggestion to host a Halloween candy composting party.

You invite all the kids over and compost their candy – unwrap it and stick it into a bin with dirt, eggshells and other ickies, ensuring you don’t cheat and eat it later. Then you donate the wrappers to someone crafty or use them yourself to make a purse … or something.

Right. I doubt that party goes over well with most kids, not to mention a lot of husbands. (OK, I like the candy, too).

Luckily, nothing says I have to choose one holiday over the other.

Even Green Halloween’s literature offers ideas for small changes you can make if you’re not ready to go completely granola.

Take costumes. Make that robot costume out of old boxes, duct tape and dryer vent tubes, if you’re so inclined. If that’s not for you, hit a secondhand store for a much cheaper costume that’s been gently worn or possibly never worn. Or organize a costume swap with a bunch of friends.

Think outside the plastic pumpkin to tote your treats. Pillowcases, reusable grocery bags or backpacks all work.

Walk, don’t drive, to your trick-or-treat stops.

Consider giving back, too. The UNICEF box kids carried when I trick-or-treated is still around. The boxes are high tech now, with a barcode you can scan in to donate over your smart phone. You can get a collection box (while supplies last) at the Crocs store in Ellenton.

And the treats? If you’re cool with passing out honey sticks, fruit leather and granola, have at it. If that’s just not Halloween to you, consider having a bowl of candy and a bowl of stickers, crayons, temporary tattoos or other treasures, and let kids choose what they want. If it has to be candy, you can at least reduce the excess and only pass out one or two pieces.

The next morning, you can decide if you want to dole candy out in small doses to your kids, convince them to donate the loot (some places will mail candy to troops overseas), or trade their treats for toys, books or music.

I can handle that. I’ll enjoy a swing through Whole Foods to trick or treat with my son and take him out on Halloween itself in our neighborhood. We’ll tone down the excess.

And no one will compost my Snickers bar.