Halloween has been totally hijacked by ecologically damaging consumerism. From the expensive shop-bought costumes made from petroleum based materials and the plastic pumpkins to the chemical-laden sweets and the toxic face paints, we spend our money on things that damage our children’s health and our planet. I know, so far I sound like a party pooper. But with a little thought, you can have a Halloween that doesn’t cost the earth, your health, or your pocket. And you’ll have a lot more fun.
Fabulously freaky costumes can be created from clothing found at thrift stores or the back of your wardrobe. Is there an old sheet dying to be a ghost? A dark shawl? A black paper hat and a branch saved from the bonfire would make a fine witch. With a few ribbons, some feathers, safety pins, or even recycled tin foil, you and your children are all set for a creative afternoon’s work! You will feed their imaginations, and their sense of achievement will far exceed any “perfect” off-the-peg creation.
Use cardboard from old boxes, paint, and decorations to make masks. If you choose to use face paint, there are some lovely natural, plant-based versions on the market. Try Lyra face paints, which come in pencil, crayon, or paint.
Next comes the Halloween centre piece: the pumpkin. Think of how many fields were devoted to growing pumpkins this year, most of them sprayed with pesticides. An organic pumpkin, especially at this time of year, will barely cost you more. Not only will your choice make a statement to the growers, you’ll have all the scrapings from inside your pumpkin for a yummy meal after trick-or -treating.
For a quick delicious soup, just add water, milk, and nutmeg to the pulp. Heat and blend. Even the seeds are great roasted with some Eco-friendly Costume soy sauce or salt. Younger children love to rinse the slimy seeds in a colander. You could even create a longer-term project with the kids by saving a handful of seeds, drying them in paper bag in a warm dry place, and planting them in the spring for next year.
Conventional pumpkins will probably be hybrids, with seeds that won’t reproduce properly if they grow at all.
Halloween was originally a festival to mark the end of the growing season and the beginning of the dark, ‘dead’ months ahead. So surround yourself with the last of the year’s bright outdoor colours! To decorate your house, take a walk in the woods. Fallen tree boughs, moss, bright fall leaves, and apples will look wonderful. So will paper garlands cut in ghoulish shapes, made from paper scraps you have saved.
You can even cut your electric costs for the night by turning off the lights and filling the room with candles. Choose deliciously scented beeswax candles rather than petroleum-based ones. Just keep them safe from the children and all those lovingly-made paper garlands!
Last but certainly not least, come the candies and treats. Most of today’s Halloween candy comes heavily packaged. Some of it is made with genetically modified foods, and most of it is full of artificial colours, flavorings, and preservatives. But there are plenty of great alternatives nowadays, available in natural food supermarkets or online. My favorite is Yummy Earth’s organic candies, which come in so many fantastic, natural flavors. You could also try your hand at homemade candy apples for some sticky fun. Roasted nuts are a great