I love Halloween! The only thing is, I can’t seem to get my favorite holiday to align with my environmental morals. How can I enjoy Halloween this year without feeling guilty about throwing it all away?
— Maribel, Frisco
Halloween is by far the favorite of all of the holidays in the Steward family. It can seem daunting to keep it green with packaged store costumes, decorations manufactured abroad and corn-syrup candy, but have no fear ... Well, maybe a little; it is appropriate in the case of Halloween. We have found several ways to bring a little green spirit to this spooktacular time of year.
Let’s start with the decorations. Certainly there are a lot of tempting store-bought options that seem cheap and easy. Unfortunately, these items actually have a pretty big cost when it comes to the environment. Many plastic decorations contain PVC, or polyvinyl chloride (aka vinyl), the “poison plastic.” PVC is a hazardous material that releases dioxin (a known human carcinogen and hormone disrupter) during production, use and disposal.
Instead, try some fun, do-it-yourself decorations with the family this year. Take all of those old glass jars you have lying around the house, decorate them with bandages and googly eyes. Now you have an instant Mason jar mummy! Don’t forget to carve pumpkins and maybe paint a couple of cute little gourds. You can get local and organic pumpkins from Natural Grocers in Dillon.
After the Halloween celebration is over the glass jars can be recycled at any of the five Summit County recycling locations. The pumpkins and gourds can be composted. Did you know that both the Frisco and Breckenridge recycle centers are now taking residential compost? Contact the High Country Conservation Center at (970) 668-5703 to sign up for the program. It is super-inexpensive and totally worth it.
Costumes are our favorite part of Halloween. Whether you like to go scary, sexy or cute, you can always go green. Rather than trashing your old costumes every year, try to use parts of a previous year’s costume to make a unique and new costume for this year. Were you a fairy princess last year? How about a zombie fairy princess this year?
Don’t forget to check out the consignment and thrift stores for costume ideas. Try the Family and Intercultural Resource Center’s (FIRC) locations in Dillon and Breckenridge, Horse Cents in Silverthorne or For Pets Sake in Breckenridge. Start thinking about your costume now so you will have plenty of time to tweak it and find all the right pieces. Not only will you save money by reusing old costumes, but you will help keep Halloween away from the scariest place of all. The landfill!
Last but not least is the Halloween candy. Unfortunately, many of the go-to candies of Halloween have high-fructose corn syrup as a main ingredient. High-fructose corn syrup has been linked to obesity, diabetes and fatty liver disease because it can’t be digested like normal sugars. There are a lot of candy options out there that will bring smiles instead of screams. Top candy picks from the Steward family are Justin’s peanut butter Cups from Boulder and Sundrops (M&M’s candies without all the preservatives or dyes). You can find these and a lot of other great options at Natural Grocers in Dillon.
Who knows! You might start a trend in your neighborhood. For all of those foodies out there, why not try making something at home? Chocolate caramel corn balls anyone? Yum! Just know some parents are wary if it is not sealed in a package. Maybe throw in some spooky facts about climate change if you really want to scare their socks off.
It can be a challenge when it comes to maintaining your environmental ethics, especially around the holidays. Think of this instead as a chance to let that creative side out for the whole family. Don’t stop with just these eco-Halloween ideas, though. Share with your friends and see what everyone else is doing to make Halloween a little greener. You might be surprised to find you are not alone. Boo!
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.