Operation Homemade Kangaroo Costume is complete and my little one can’t wait to put it on (and I can’t wait to see her dressed up). I love every aspect of Halloween – decorating (I love decorating for any holiday anyway), dressing up (I still love playing dress up), the spookyness of it all 🙂 But as an environmentalist, the only thing I don’t like is the idea of giving out treats that come in tons of packaging.
I’ve been trying to find some treat options that don’t involve loads of sugar and little tiny wrappers that animals can choke on. This weekend I did some research, and here are a few options I looked into:
Del Monte Fruit Salad Bowls (pkg 4 @ $3.29) – fruit definitely has more nutritional value in the form of vitamins and minerals than candy or potato chips, but the amount of sugar isn’t that much lower. The plastic cup and cardboard packaging are recyclable, but not the plastic lid. Packaging also says Product of China – so who knows where the fruit really comes from. So not a great option. Organic fruit in individual cans might be slightly better, but are about $1 to $ 1.50 more expensive for the same quantity. Cans are also heavier, so the CO2 impact for shipping would be higher.
Allens Apple Juice (pkg 8 @ $2.29) – this has been a Halloween-treat staple of ours since we first moved into our house almost eight years ago. The juice is made using Canadian apples, and has lots of vitamin C. The carton is recyclable. But what about that tiny little straw and the plastic wrapper around that straw 😦
Nature’s Path Granola Bars (pkg 6 @ $3.50)– less sugar and fillers than “regular” granola bars, and 1% of sales go to the Australian Koala Foundation. The cardboard box is recyclable, but not the wrapper on the individual bars.
Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice (pkg 6 @ $2.50) – again, more nutritional value than candy, but 34 grams of sugar per bottle! Ocean spray is product of USA, but has some Canadian farms, including some right here in Nova Scotia. The bottle is recyclable, except for the lid and 6-pack plastic rings. And who knows if the bottle is BPA free.
President’s Choice Apple-Crranberry-Raspberry puree (pkg 6 @ ~ $3.00)– similar problem as with the fruit cups. Purchasing organic apple sauce might have been a slightly better choice.
PC Organics Raisins (pkg 14 @ $ 3.00)- raisins, again while having more fibre and vitamin C than candy, are actually really bad for children’s teeth according to our family dentist. Also, the waxy cardboard boxes are just garbage (though they might biodegrade over time). At least I was able to take the foil outer packaging and turned it inside out to reuse as wrapping paper.
Too may things to think about with Grocery-Store bought treats. What about non-food items like pencils, stickers, temporary tattoos, or notebooks? Green Halloween has some great ideas for non-food items. Another blog I read suggested used books. Hmmm, not sure how I feel about that idea. This weekend a few bargain stores had pencils and notebooks on sale for 1$ per each or per pkg of two or three, but they also use a lot of paper and come wrapped in non-recyclable plastic, and while the items will last more than one use, are likely made overseas, where the working conditions are questionable and the shipping has a large CO2 impact.
What about more obvious “green” treats – home made treats, locally-made treats or local produce? Well, the risk of course with produce like apples is that someone with ill intentions puts a something dangerous in them. Then everyone who gave out apples would be considered “bad apples” I considered making homemade chocolates like I did at Easter, or putting together baggies of homemade trail mix or cookies, but these homemade options pose the same problem.
There are some locally-made treat options available at the Alderney Market. Acadian Maple Products make cute little maple fudge treats in the shape of maple leaves, lobsters and other maritime-ish shapes, and cost about $2 each. There are also locally made granola bars that are about $3.75 each. Both products come wrapped in plastic wrap. If you only have a few children coming to your door, the price point isn’t bad. But our neighborhood can reach close to 100 trick or treaters – and unfortunately our budget didn’t allow for $200+ on Halloween treats.
The whole experience has been a bit disheartening. It doesn`t seem like there is a Halloween treat option that is particularly good for the planet. The whole concept is a bit frightening (no pun intended) : complete strangers knock on your door and beg for food. Especially when there are so many who don`t have food, and could benefit instead from neighborhood collections (food or monetary) for Feed Nova Scotia. (Which reminds me – what happened to the days when we used to collect for Unicef? I have fond memories from elementary school of folding the distinct orange boxes and counting up the change the day after Halloween).
I could be that parent who doesn’t give out treats at all, or donates money to the food bank and puts a sign on the front door explaining such. But little kids don’t’ get that. And then I’d either be a hypocrite for taking my kid out, or have to explain to her why we`re not going out. And then it would be like we weren’t celebrating Halloween at all.
For now, I picked out a few items from the list above – juice packs, organic raisins and granola bars. Maybe next year I can work with the Fairview Community Association to turn the whole evening into a food bank drive. With child obesity and cavity rates on the rise, there might be some takers. Sadly, some of those kids collecting treats could be relying on Halloween to know where their next few meals are coming from.
And on that note, I close off this post wishing everyone as happy and safe a Halloween as possible. Stay tuned for Homemade Halloween Part 2 – Operation Kangaroo Costume.