Going Green for Halloween – Seven Tips to Consider

by Christine Sine
Halloween lantern

Halloween lantern

This morning I was reading through Green America and came across an interesting article on Halloween. Now, I am not an advocate for Halloween. It always seems weird to me that Christians celebrate it as much as non-Christians. But here in America it is such a part of the culture that this rarely seems to be questioned. And I certainly know it is coming because the number of horror movies on T.V. has increased astronomically. So instead I thought that I would turn my thoughts to preparations for the season.

First some thoughts from the Green America article and elsewhere you may want to consider:

  1. Face paint: A 2009 study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that 10 out of 10 children’s face paints tested contained at least trace levels of lead. This article provides some DIY alternatives.
  2. The Candy Problem: In 2017, 41 million kids in the U.S. went trick or treating. Last year Americans spent something like $2.6 billion on Halloween candy. No wonder one out of three children in America are overweight and many will develop diabetes. Consider making your own healthy treats, giving out non-food items like polished stones, temporary tattoos, or friendship bracelets.
  3. Swap costumes: Millions of costumes are purchased in the U.S. each year. Consider holding a pre-Halloween party to swap, mend, make or borrow costumes from your friends.
  4. Reverse Trick or Treating: I wrote about this a couple of years ago in this article. My growing concern for just working conditions for children makes me a strong advocate for this. I think it is a wonderful way to raise awareness of these issues and show consistency for our values.
  5. Hold an All Saints Party. Rather than celebrating Halloween celebrate All Saints Day November 1st. Have kids dress up as their favourite person or saint. Share stories, decorate pumpkins if you must but also consider some alternatives like decorating window panes with non toxic paints, making Christmas decorations and wreaths.
  6. Organize a Community or Neighbourhood Event. Green Halloween started in Seattle but grew into a national phenomenon with community events at more than 50 locations. You might want to join in the fun and get to know some of your neighbours.
  7. Make the most of you pumpkins: Kids and adults alike love carving and decorating pumpkins, but I hate to watch them slowly rotting on the porch. So here are some thoughts to use that pumpkin more effectively. Save the seeds and toast them in the oven with a little salt. Use the pumpkin flesh (discarding any melted wax) to make pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread.

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Jo October 4, 2012 - 10:06 am

Thanks for these great ideas. I have always celebrated All Saints Day with my children rather than Halloween. In recent years it has become an increasingly significant event in the UK – I wonder if there are any groups organizing reverse trick or treating over here.

Christine Sine October 4, 2012 - 11:06 am

Jo unfortunately I do not know of any groups in the UK that do this. I did however find this article – a great thing for a church to consider doing. http://staffslive.co.uk/2011/11/01/church-volunteers-reverse-trick-or-treating-tradition-in-burslem/

Tan October 5, 2012 - 7:34 am

I am somewhat disappointed to read this take on Halloween. Not the green ideas, but the whiff of sanctimoniousness. An “All Saints Party” instead? Most of us don’t live in a Christian ghetto, so are we to encourage our kids to disconnect from their neighbors and friends who are Jewish, or whatever –and instead inform them that we have a “better” idea, and we’re inviting them to an “all saints party.” By all means, celebrate All Saints, but do we really have to repudiate Halloween?

And — lots of parents have been making homemade goodies, or buying fair trade chocolate. Good for them.The trouble with obesity in this country isn’t Halloween — it is the daily consumption of food that is bad for us. Kids have been trick or treating for at least a half century — long before obesity was a big problem. It is when those treats become a daily affair that they become a problem.

While we’re at it, why don’t we think about what ghosts and ghouls and scary movies are about, and their precedents across cultures. Of course there are the outliers — horrible, horrible things, but there is also the fact that kids love to be a little scared — it helps them learn how to deal with the real fears inside them. Folk tales, fairy tales, all that — have long been with us. Most cultures (including that of ancient Israel) had folktales as well as scripture. Silly stories, scary stories, etc. Kids and adults like Halloween because it is fun — and it can be a wonderful way to welcome neighbors into your home. When so many neighborhoods leave people isolated–that’s a pretty neat thing.

Christine Sine October 5, 2012 - 8:02 am

I appreciate your comments. The All Saints suggestion was one of several – maybe something that a church would want to consider. I agree that this can be a great time to invite neighbours into our homes – one of the reasons that I suggest organizing a community or neighbourhood gathering.

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