10/07/2013 05:18 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

How to Have a More Fun, More Eco-Friendly Halloween With Your Kids

Halloween produces more boos, eeks, screeches and ding dongs than we should tolerate. In an attempt to make sure our kids don't hate us, and our neighbours, family and friends don't ridicule us (although some of us may have gotten used to this by now), this list will hopefully provide useful suggestions, and inspire others to have a less scary Halloween (since, boycotting the holiday altogether is a little ambitious and un-spirited -- for this year anyway).

Read through and adopt as many of these simple suggestions for a smarter Halloween and then choose to share them with others.

Since Halloween involves community, support yours.

Buy your organic pumpkin at a farmers' market, or better yet, go and pick your own. It'll get you right into the Halloween spirit! Growing a conventional pumpkin takes an awful lot of pesticides (they are a very heavily "treated" crop) and they take up too much space in landfills, releasing greenhouse gases as they decompose after their single use on Halloween. Be sure to take full advantage of your entire pumpkin by roasting the seeds (yummy and very healthy), make a soup or pie, and compost the rest of the pumpkin when you're done. Another easy one -- walk, do not drive. Stick to your neighbourhood, talk to your neighbours and enjoy the crisp fall air. It's a bonus to squeeze that exercise time into your busy day.

Use a costume you already have or make your own!

If you do not have costumes already, then make your own. (And please, NO toxic face paints - check all makeup, hairsprays, nailpolish etc. at EWG's Cosmetics Database!). Do you remember dressing as a ballet dancer or hockey player? Of course, and it's easy. How can you justify putting on an off-gassing, store-bought, made-in-China, phthalate-laced, over-packaged mask by choice? A few costume ideas that are bright, easy and comfortable: a Whiteboard (all white clothing with a pen on a string around your neck and people can sign you - now that is interactive!), a Compact Flourescent Lightbulb (again, all white clothing with skinny white balloons in twisty shapes on your head), a Ghost (with an organic cotton sheet, of course), a Jelly Fish (dressed in pink while opening and closing an umbrella) .


Instead of turning on every light in your house, use your opened, used cans for exciting and even elegant decor! Take the labels off, punch holes in each can (try funny or scary faces or simple patterns) and place an organic soy or beeswax candle inside. Wait until you see the amazing lights and lanterns you have created when you light them up. This is a great year round project (since you shouldn't be using that many cans anyway!) and this trick is reusable year after year -- just keep adding to your Halloween decor collection.

Bribe your children

I hear ding-dongs going off over this one, but anyone who says that bribery doesn't work, has never been a parent. Offer your kids their very own, entire cake (with ingredients you approve of) BEFORE they go out, in lieu of taking and eating any of that garbage! And then, when out, try reverse-trick-or-treating. Instead of getting candy, give candy to each house you visit (organic + nut free is always a good choice), or just do the trick thing instead.

Give out real treats

Treats are treats. Kids love treats. You love your kids. What to do? Every store has colourful boxes lined up on shelves ready for us to buy (think of the resources wasted just to get those boxes printed and on shelf!). It's scary to think of the artificial colours, flavours, refined, over-processed ingredients and dyes that are in our candy. If you are not keen on giving out pencils made from recycled materials (stop rolling your eyes), try safe and delicious snacks that kids will love (and parents will too!).

Of course, use a reusable bag

You can always use a pillowcase (you know the one you used before you switched to sleeping soundly on organic?). But, if you do not yet have strong reusable bags, get a Chico Bag (or ten) already! There's room for 25 pounds worth of goodies to tote around.

Think about your drink (before you leave home)

Make sure when you leave your home on Halloween, you're well prepared, so you don't have to make any additional (and unnecessary) stops. Your kids (and you) will get thirsty -- plus it's always important to stay hydrated. Take your own bottled water (aka: a safe reusable bottle filled up with tap water). If it's chilly where you live, take an insulated mug (with the Klean Kanteen Insulated -- hot has never stayed so hot!). A bonus: when you have water, you can clean off your kids hands, or dirty, scraped knees and keep going!

Walk around all charged up

Use a solar charged, crank powered, or shake and shine flashlight to walk around your block at night... no batteries required, which means no batteries running out mid-use (how annoying/disappointing is that?) and no batteries to ever dispose of either. Major upside: many solar or crank gadgets can charge your smartphones and other electronics -- perfect for blackouts or travel anywhere -- even if just in your neighbourhood. Be sure to purchase one of good quality (like an Eton) that will last and not end up in landfill as quickly as everything else on a typical Halloween.

For even more tips and tricks to make your Halloween less spooky, flip through this Halloween Guide from Borden Communications.

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