My ambitious children are interested in going green for Halloween. The past two years we have made and exchanged costumes with a group of friends. I also have a Zero Waste Party Pack for hosting our Halloween bash. Do you have any additional ideas?
- Isabelle (Silverthorne)
Through limiting waste, recycling and composting, it is a spook-tacular suggestion to make Halloween about reducing your impact on the planet. You and your family can also use the holiday as an opportunity to have a positive impact in your home and community. If you are walking door-to-door, why not campaign for Fair Trade chocolate? Ordering pizza for dinner is a huge tradition on Halloween but Chipotle offers $2 Booritos for their annual fundraiser. There are a number of ways to participate in Halloween and despite your costume, you can always go as an activist for the environment and healthier food.
October happens to be National Energy Action Month. TreeHugger.com makes it super simple to promote sustainability by carving your pumpkins into energy-themed jack-o-lanterns. The site provides five different downloadable patterns. My favorite is the compact fluorescent lamp design. Energy Star-qualified CFLs use a quarter of the energy and last 10 times as long as incandescent bulbs. There is a wind turbine design. Similar to a windmill, the turbine has blades to collect the wind's kinetic energy. While a little more challenging, I also like the carving of the sun and solar panels. Photovoltaic panels absorb the sun's solar energy and convert it into a renewable resource. In addition, there are also designs featuring a biomass and atom symbol. This Halloween project can be an opportunity to turn pumpkin carving into an educational family activity and the jack-o-lanterns make for great conservation conversation pieces.
Grist.org has been offering environmental news since 1999. In addition to being a great source on election information, the site also provides tips for a Green Halloween. In 2010, Grist.org produced the article "Chipotle rolls out some scare tactics for Halloween" discussing Chipotle's commitment to "Food with Integrity" and their Halloween fundraiser. After 4 p.m. on Oct. 31, any customer costumed as a processed food product will be able to purchase a burrito or other entree for just $2. Chipotle donated the sales, up to $1 million, to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Oliver lead the campaign to improve the food in America's schools and the chef collaborated with Chipotle to create the original Boorito special for the event. Like the undead, the tradition has returned to Chipotle for this Halloween. Two-dollar entrees if you are in costume and the proceeds will now go to The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, the company's nonprofit organization committed to creating a more sustainable and healthful food supply and to raising awareness concerning food issues.
The "Scare Trade: Halloween candy you can feel good about" article on Grist.org describes the annual Reverse Trick-or-Treating' campaign. Your little ghouls and goblins still go door-to-door collecting candy. They are encouraged to give back a piece of Fair Trade chocolate and a hand-out card. Global Exchange and Equal Exchange can provide Reverse Trick-or-Treating kits. The program raises awareness about forced child labor in the cocoa fields along the Ivory Coast. The U.S. State Department estimates that there are over 100,000 child workers. A tenth of them are believed to be victims of trafficking and enslavement according to Kelsie Evans, the Chocolate Products Coordinator for Equal Exchange. It is a frightening fact to consider that half of the chocolate consumed in the United States comes from the Ivory Coast. When you purchase Fair Trade-certified chocolate you ensure that the farmers get a reasonable price, as a result they can invest into techniques that bring out the flavors of their region and both slave and child labor is strictly prohibited (http://www.fairtradeusa.org/products-partners/cocoa). It may cost a little bit more money but guilt-free chocolate tastes better on so many different levels.
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org