Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Greenin' your Halloweenin'

Green witch's hatI 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.

18 comments:

Deb G said...

Oh I really struggled with this! I get about 25-30 kids at my door and need to keep the expenses around $15. I've done fruit leathers/fruit drops for the last couple years as well as candy and it's gone over surprisingly well in my neighborhood. So this year I'm taking the plunge and doing fruit leather (all fruit) mostly. I have to confess, I couldn't quite give up the bad stuff completely and got some carmels. I figured I could live with giving kids high fructose wrapped in plastic over chocolate (slave labor?). I suppose if I'd thought about it more I would have got high fructose corn syrup in boxes instead of the plastic. Or I should have just been strong and stuck to the fruit leather. I do think little plastic toys aren't the answer. I don't know why, but I'm not so sure about the suggestion I've read about coins. Thinking about that one.

I guess the question for me is, is it time to give up the tradition because it just isn't ethical for me anymore or is this one of the times that you stretch into the plastic/processed food world?

Susanna said...

i'm giving out plain chips again with boxes of raisins as a backup. I won't buy non fairtrade chocolate and simply can't afford to hand out fairtrade stuff.

danica said...

This is just the first thing I thought of, so I may be way off, but...

Up here in Canada, you can always get maple candy (which I assume is local) at the farmers market. I wonder if something like that is an option. Maybe treats made from local honey?

denise said...

We get around 200+ kids each year...

I just won't do the chocolate/candy - and we have to throw away most of what my kids get in their bags. Most of the kids in my neighborhood are under 5, but the stuff passed out is not really geared appropriately for agegroup. I have a small bag of goodies they can have at home waiting to toss into their baskets to balance out what we have to remove.

This year we bought 100 honey sticks to pass out (not cheap, but it is local and kids like them). Then we also have some stickers (100) and small boxes of crayons (50). Some fruit leathers in case we run out of the rest.

We get lots of parents coming by our house because they know we have the "good stuff" - particularly for the younger set...

Oldnovice said...

We're going with what we've always done (except I bought all the candy months earlier on sale with coupons and have been keeping it in the frig).

I love Halloween and all the kids (we get 100 or more) going door-to-door; it's GREAT community bonding, IMO. My environmental concerns can wait until tomorrow.

Christine said...

We gave it and we took it - good, old fashioned high fructose corn syrup style!

Then, we came home, asked the kids to pick their favorite seven pieces of candy ... and offered to buy the rest for $10 per child.

It was a huge hit. They get to enjoy one piece of candy a day for a week, and they have cold, hard cash.

And we got to celebrate Halloween, and we didn't get egged. I'll be taking the extra candy with me to church tonight and laying it in the middle of all the teenagers. ;)

Katie said...

I found a halloween sack of pretzels - individual snack sizes of mini-pretzels. I'm happier with that than I am with chocolate and candy, though its still not perfect.

Innocent Observer said...

I don't think it's more environmentally friendly but in August the Evil Mart sells crayons and glue sticks for 20 cents. That’s about double what I pay per piece for candy but crayons and glue sticks are much more tooth/body friendly. My kids would LOVE to get crayons instead of candy.

Jennifer said...

Perhaps if you could find something like this made by a local artisan...

http://www.candywarehouse.com/swizzlesticks.html

I LOVED them as a child... VERY cool! And, I saved the stick as a musical instrument beater.

I remember tossing LOTS of things I wouldn't eat out of my Halloween bag. The apples and the nasty taffies wrapped in paper (that's why I'm not suggesting those!) were the first to go.

Jennifer said...

Or... what about salt water taffy? Again, you might find it locally made, it comes in paper wrappers, and I LOVE it. (And loved it as a child)

DC said...

We ordered $35 worth of organic fair trade do-gooder chocolate in the mail. When it arrived, the pieces were so small that we realized it would only get us through about an hour of trick-or-treating. So we caved and bought a few bags of evil conventional corporate candy at grocery store. We did at least manage to avoid purchasing conventional chocolate -- instead we got lollipops, jolly ranchers, etc. Around 200,000 children in West Africa work under forced labor conditions on cocoa farms, so regular chocolate is on our taboo list. If, like us, you can't afford to buy all fair trade goodies for Halloween, you might want to consider buying a little bit and supplementing it with something else. If you end up buying all bad stuff, don't stress over it. It's one day a year. Use the energy you would have spent feeling guilty about passing out crap (that the kids absolutely love) doing something positive.

Green Bean said...

I used to give a handful of individually wrapped candy bars. This year, I struggled with what to do and decided to just hand out one larger candy bar. I figured, at least, it was less packaging. I also have a bucket of organic lollipops that my kids didn't like and unused cheap plastic toys from goodie bags over the past year that I'll unload first. ;-) Hey, better than the trash!

Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank said...

We chickened out this year, turned off the lights, and went out to dinner. And we didn't get egged or TP'd. Okay, that's not what you want to hear, but it's the truth!

If I'd planned ahead, I might have sprung for College Farm Organic candies which are not only organic but come wrapped in compostable corn-starch-based wrappers. Don't remember how I found out about them.

Green Bean said...

Okay, post trick or treating update - one elderly woman here handed out nickels. The kids could not have been more excited! How envrionmentally friendly is that. I think I'll do something along those lines next year though I know the teens would probably not go for it. Maybe a bucket of fair trade chocolate for the older crowd and coins for the littler ones.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I also wanted to follow up. The Halloween pencils were a huge hit! They were pretty much gone immediately. Next year I'll have to plan a little better to make sure I have a variety of non-candy items in the bucket as well.

Phelan said...

We don't hand out candy as we don't have trick or treaters out here. It's a very long walk.

We went into the city and I allowed my children to keep all the candy they collected. And it is a lot! They enjoyed it.

I repurposed my youngest son's costume making it from wire clothes hangers and an old dress {he was a bat} I gathered and made parts of my other two boys outfits as well.

Ok, I confess I didn't allow them to keep all their candy, I took a few snickers bars.

sue said...

We don't hand out candy, since we live on a state highway and not in a neighborhood, but I would LOVE too see more pencils, erasers, crayons, etc. My daughter got WAY too much candy and my husband is having trouble sticking to the rule of 2 pieces per day for her. Two things we loved were - one store gave out juice boxes (which is great, since the kids are walking a LOT) and someone gave out halloween pretzels. So at least she had a snack she could eat during the 3 HOURS we walked around collecting candy :-)

Spice said...

We don't get trick-or-treaters as we live 10 miles from town, so I didn't have to worry about organic-free trade-local versus Evil Mart-Corporate Slavery-Environmental Holocaust. I'm pretty lucky that way.
I took Smidgen into town to Trick-Or-Treat, dressed in a costume I made from old fabric lying around the house and a few pieces of clearance rack fabric. She was Ella of Frell from Ella Enchanted. In an hour or so she was able to get a whole pillow case filled. It was Insane!
I have to figure out what to do with the candy, as the wrappers are polluting and it would be a waste to just throw it. I'm thinking we can make pinatas for the next year at everyone's Birthday parties.
Smidgeon's costume was made so that each part of it is wearable as real clothes. The shirt and skirt are nice enough for parties and family gatherings. The cloak will mostly be play-clothes, but it should fit for a few years once I take the hem down.
I soaked the pumpkin seeds in salt water and roasted them. I also baked the shells of the pumpkins after carving and froze it to make pies and bread with later. Everything that was inedible will go to my neighbor's pigs.
All in all a pretty sustainable Halloween.

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