Green Trick-or-Treat Tips

TreeHugger (one of my go-to websites for “green lifestyle” reading) offers 9 ideas for plastic-free Halloween treats.

My favorite suggestions from the article are: choose paper-wrapped or paper-boxed candies; buy candies in bulk and offer them loose (I would have tongs available for taking the candies out of the bowl). Making homemade candies is another great idea.

Loose candies might not be a favored option if your neighborhood isn’t close-knit. Then again, a lot of people these days are doing “Trunk or Treat” gatherings in parks or parking lots. The more intimate atmosphere makes it safer to offer loose treats, I think.

Though some cities are still recycling aluminum and glass, I know this has become a problem so I would avoid giving canned or bottled drinks.

You could brew up a bowl or pitcher of “Witches’ Brew Punch” and ladle it into little paper cups as kids arrive. Or, if you live in a small community, offer it in your own reusable cups. They’d have to drink it on the spot, but the thirst-quencher might be welcome! Make hot cider or cold punch depending on the weather.

Regarding their suggestion of foil-wrapped candies, I agree that is a better option than plastic. But I would prefer to give paper-wrapped rather than foil-wrapped — though I guess the foil eventually breaks down in the environment, being metal. (One of my pet sci-fi future scenarios is that everyone’s discarded junk breaks down into its elements, and landfills become mines for metals and other material. “Landfills are the mines of the future,” I went around saying for awhile.)

Meanwhile, on a Halloween thread on Journey To Zero Waste (J2ZW), one new suggestion I got was tangerines painted with jack o’ lantern faces. Also, bananas painted with eyes and mouths to look like ghosts. Cute huh! (Oh, and in case you’re looking for cheap eco-friendly costume options, someone on J2ZW just started a thread on that also. The sugar skulls painted on cardboard boxes are adorable!)

And of course, apples (plain or caramel-coated) are a perennial favorite.

Treats tend to come from raw materials produced far away (chocolate, sugar — and here in Florida, even apples are a faraway treat). But it’s just once a year, and people since ancient times have enjoyed “faraway treats” on festival days.

That said, if you are able to offer a local fruit, or candy produced from local ingredients, I give you bonus happy eco points!

I must confess, Halloween is one special occasion when I have tended to go lax on green practices, and just give the commonly available plastic-wrapped candies. I look for the paper-wrapped ones (Milk Duds, Pixie Sticks, Mary Jane etc.) but if I can’t find ’em I don’t sweat it. TreeHugger and the J2ZW community have inspired me to step up my game. I’m going to look for paper-packaged treats.

Regardless of whether you are able to find “greener” options, my advice to everyone is to just enjoy Halloween. Take trick-or-treating as an opportunity to boost social connectedness and a spirit of fun in your neighborhood. Building stronger communities is ultimately the greenest thing any of us can do.