I keep hearing a tremendous amount of press about "Greening your Halloween", but it seems like the take home message from the news has been "No Candy - Cheap Plastic Crappy Toys Instead". At least this is how it has been reported to me from people reading these news pieces. How green is that message?
Now, I know this isn't the actual message organizations like The Nature Conservancy are promoting, but it's what people who hear about it seem to bring away from it.
On the other hand, suggested food alternatives are either expensive (and not realistic if you get upwards of 100 kids like we do), seemingly dangerous (open packaging like raisins that parents will throw away thinking their kids will get poisoned or worse), or, frankly, inedible (tea?). What child is going to be gleeful at a bag of fruit leathers, raisins and organic fruit drink boxes? Throw in a sandwich and call it school lunch.
Unless every house hands out these kinds of everyday "treats", these well meaning handouts will be ignored or, even worse, thrown in the trash. So much for green.
As for the toy alternatives, the same problem arises. Most eco-friendly toys are expensive and unaffordable for most households. The affordable toys are cheap plastic that are "Hecho en China" and aren't exactly green. Even if you could afford a boatload of recycled pencils, shells (are these sustainable?) and hand-hewn wooden trinkets, are these toys that kids want?
Again, will they end up ignored and eventually thrown in the trash? Most kids are too polite to look at your selection and refuse to take anything, whether they want it or not. So, while I totally applaud the intent behind all this, I really don't see this as a real, green solution.
Here's my take on it - maybe mixing in some of the "greener" items with standard ole candy and let the kids decide. I ended up putting in some alternatives last year, mostly because I was running out of candy and went through the cabinets looking for additional treats. I was quite amazed at how a couple of kids chose the 100% fruit juice gummies and some PediaSure nutrition bars my mom bought (yes, I was desperate) over the remaining candy.
Obviously, there are the exceptions. This year I'll huck in some Halloween pencils for sport and see what happens. It would be fun to do a more statistically useful study, but my sample would only represent my neighborhood and probably wouldn't tell anyone much of anything. I suspect the non-candy choosers would be in the minority.
I remember being a kid and mentally planning, even while I was still out trick-or-treating, to toss all the mealy apples, popcorn balls and other things I didn't like. I don't want to inflict the same waste on a new generation of kids.
What are the rest of you guys doing about Halloween? Do you have any suggestions? And, I'm not looking for the "turn off the lights and hope your house doesn't get egged" alternatives.