Halloween Tree Photo By H_EliseTrick or Treat?! It’s the phrase that is about to be on every child’s lips in a couple of weeks. Halloween is the time for dress up, self expression, scary stories, and of course delightful candy! Is there a way to indulge in this American holiday without going against your ethics? Yes there are ways to have a truly ethical Halloween! And we at AP have put together a sweet little guide to help you make sure your Halloween meets all socially conscious standards. Stay safe and Happy Halloween!! Mwahahaha

1) Costumes: Costumes sold on the mainstream market are often made of harsh materials such as cheap plastics and harmful dyes. Unfortunately, people often buy these costumes only to throw them out after one use. This is a very wasteful practice. The most Green way to make a costume is by making one! Going through yours and your friend’s closets is the best way to through together a costume (it saves you money too)! But if you can’t find exactly what you need for your outfit, try the local thrift stores. Thrift stores are teeming with great pieces perfect for nearly any costume. If thrifting just isn’t your thing there are a number of organic costumes for both adults and children. Please remember if you do purchase a costume from any source be sure and donate it once you are finished.

Jokerz Vegan Candy Bar by Go Max Go

Jokerz Vegan Candy Bar by Go Max Go

2) Vegan Treats: It is possible to hold to your Green and Vegan roots when handing out trick or treat candy. When you are choosing what candy you would like to hand out this year, keep in mind which candies are vegan. PETA has a nice list of mainstream candy which is vegan by default. Or if you would like to support vegan business, Go Max Go, based in Portland OR makes delicious all vegan candy bars styled much like your old favorites such as Almond Joy and 3 Musketeers. They are a new company but you can already find them in many health food stores. Pangea, the online vegan store also offers Halloween style goodies such as ghost marshmallows, Halloween themed cookies, and chocolate bites. All great ideas to hand out! Also, if you are feeling healthy you can always hand out packaged dried fruit or nuts. If you are throwing a get together, here are some terrific Halloween themed vegan recipes.

3) Fair Trade Chocolate: Fair Trade Chocolate is easy to come by these days and make great Halloween giveaways. In fact, October is Fair Trade Month, so what better way to end the month then to hand out Fair Trade Chocolates? Global Exchange has put together a great list of  Fair Trade chocolate companies such as Equal Exchange and Divine Chocolate. You can also find cute Halloween themed organic and Fair Trade chocolates. Global Exchange is also promoting Reverse Trick or Treating, where they have asked fair traders to hand out Fair Trade chocolate with information to houses they might be trick or treating at. Print out these informational cards and attach them to your Fair Trade chocolates! One quick tip, if you are Trick or Treating this year be sure to use a re-usable bag rather than plastics (a pillow case always does the job)!

4) Decorations: Halloween is an exciting time and most people celebrate by decorating their homes and businesses, whether it is for parties or just to be festive! Unfortunately, much like costumes many Halloween decorations are made of cheap plastic and are thrown out after one use. Once again a great place to find decorations is at a thrift store, plus they will save you money! You can also choose to decorate with natural decorations such as corn husks, straw, and pumpkins.  Another great activity is to create your own crafts using recycled materials such as the soda bottle pumpkin or the egg crate bat. Not only will this be Earth friendly but kid friendly as well! Also, when you are ready to choose that pumpkin to carve, be sure to go to a local and organic local pumpkin patch instead of purchasing an imported pumpkin from a main grocery store. A fun little activity would include a Fair Trade, Organic, Green, or Vegan themed Jack-O-Latern. Why not spread the word through pumpkins?!

5) Aftermath: On November 1st with the streets quiet, the clean up begins! Many of the costumes and decor for Halloween is tossed in the trash. Be sure to save your items to use again the following year or donate them to your local thrift store. Old Jack-o-lanterns, straw used for decor, and fallen leaves will letter the streets in early November. Be sure to either compost these items in your own composting or through your city if they provide it. If you are throwing a Halloween shindig, be sure you recycle all bottles and cans used.

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Lane's first "Trick or treat" Photo By tomeppyBefore long we will all hear that age old adage of “Trick or Treat?” as the small ones dressed in their best witch and pirate costumes will hold out a pillowcase in hopes of receiving chocolate. But what if we mixed it up a bit this year?! Global Exchange is promoting a new way to celebrate Halloween, while promoting a great idea: Reverse Trick or Treating. The idea is to have each Trick or Treater hand out Fair Trade Chocolate with an informational card about Fair Trade to each house they visit on Halloween. What a great way to spread the message, and really who is going to turn down a piece of Fair Trade Chocolate? 

Fair Trade Chocolate for Saint Valentine's Day Photo By jetaloneGlobal Exchange was providing kits for free, however, due to the popularity of the idea they have run out! Never fear though, you can request the informational cards from them and buy some delicious Fair Trade chocolate from Equal Exchange or other Fair Trade Chocolate companies. Also, Equal Exchange has posted the informational cards online in English and Spanish and you can order chocolates to hand out.  Also, Global Exchange sells a Halloween themed Fair Trade Action Kit which includes mini Fair Trade chocolates, postcards, Eco-friendly trick or treating bag, and a Fair Trade poster to hang up!

Whether you are taking your littlest family members out to gather sweets or if you are at home passing out candy, please consider spreading the Fair Trade message. Unfortunately, conventional chocolate companies are known for various labor and environmental abuses. Seriously, there is no better way to educate others on the perks of Fair Trade chocolate than to give them out on an American holiday now centered around candy. Enjoy your Fair Trade Halloween!

Halloween is coming up this Friday and if you’re looking to make this year’s monster bash a little more ethical, than we’re here to help! You don’t have to succumb to the holiday’s unhealthy consumption-driven tendencies. Check out these creative ideas on how to make your pumpkin a little greener this year and get ready to have the best Hallow’s Eve ever!

Go Organic: We were tickled pink (or orange?) to find out from New York Times blogger Kate Galbraith that there IS such a thing as an organic pumpkin!  Call up your local farm or pick-your-own organization and see what they’ve got before swinging by the ‘seasonal’ aisle of the grocery store like usual.

Go Vintage: Why bother buying a new plastic costume every year, when the best costumes are usually found at vintage stores?  Buying vintage not only recycles clothing thus keeping them out of landfills, but supports local business and your local economy.  If you don’t have a vintage store near you, check our Grandma’s closet.  You never know what kind of goodies you’ll find in there!

Exercise Your DIY: Even better than buying vintage is making a costume yourself!  Rather than tossing those old scraps, foils, empty beer cans, and rags in the trash, re-use them and let your creativity go wild.  Anything goes when it comes to building your own and you’ll have a ton of fun in the process.

Buy Fair Trade: Skip the Reese’s and M&M’s and instead buy Fair Trade chocolate.  There are a ton of ethical, independent businesses out there offering super yummy Fair Trade-certified and organic chocolate bars.  Check out your local markets and gift stores for these products.  You’ll be surprised at the great stuff you find there!  Some of our favorites include Equal Exchange, Theo and Alter Eco.

Reverse trick-or-treating: Join the leagues of Global Exchange and the International Labor Rights Forum and make Halloween a meaningful holiday of solidarity, activism and education.  Rather than encouraging your kids to go out and take candy, youngin’s participating in reverse trick-or-treating hand the adults at the door a Fair Trade chocolate with an educational card.  The goal of reverse trick-or-treating is to raise awareness, especially amongst youth, of the poverty and abusive labor conditions in the cocoa fields.

And after it’s all over and you’ve come down off of your sugar high…what do you do with the litter of candy wrappers, cardboard boxes and torn costumes?  Toss ’em by the wayside?  We think not.  Check out this cool contest from SustainLane.com:

  1. Take a ‘before’ photo of your prized mound of rubbish for posterity.
  2. Make something cool. Check out these candy wrapper purses from Ecoist for inspiration.
  3. Take an ‘after’ photo and blog about your creation on SustainLane.com
  4. SustainLane will evaluate all entries received by November 15 and the winner will receive a reusable bottle from Klean Kanteen.

Not digging that much effort?  Then donate your wrappers to the Candy Wrapper Museum and hang up your witches hat ’til next year!

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