Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It is so much fun to see the little ones dressed as their favorite characters. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love candy?
Growing up, I was never allowed to have too much candy. Now that I’m a mom, I understand why my parents were so strict with candy. In fact, I am also pretty strict with candy, but thankfully there are so many better options now that my kids can have a green Halloween with better-for-you candy and not even realize that we’re doing things a little differently.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CANDY
There are two things that concern me about Halloween:
- the amount of crappy candy my kids get
- and all those individually wrapped treats.
Let’s face it, all that wrapping creates lots of waste that our planet doesn’t need. Thankfully, the candy industry is gradually yielding to pressure from environmentalists and has started doing the right thing. For example, you can now buy candy in bulk, minimizing the use of packaging and wrapping.
You no longer need to be concerned about palm oil, a common candy ingredient, if it comes from Malaysia. Earlier, I did an investigative report on palm oil after hearing so much conflicted information. I’m happy to report that palm oil from Malaysia follows strict environmental practices. Malaysia even a huge contributor to wildlife conservation and palm oil from there is not bad for you.
Even companies like Nestle and Mars have switched to using Malaysian palm oil due to pressure from their consumers. This just goes to show you how much power we all have when we chose with our dollars!
READING FOOD LABELS
While candy may never qualify as “healthy” and should always be consumed in moderation, Halloween is a good opportunity to teach your own kids how to understand food labels and help them understand which ingredients to look for as well as which to avoid.
Since my kids are still really young, we haven’t started reading labels but they know how to find the USDA Organic label on the snacks and treats we buy. They know if it doesn’t have that label, we can’t get it and they don’t even put up a fight.
This works for us because I constantly explain to my children why we do things they way we do. Even at their young age they can understand that some things like candy can only be eaten in moderation and that we want to avoid foods that have been sprayed with chemicals and pesticides (hence why they look for the USDA Organic label). We also talk a lot about the environment: about not polluting our planet, explaining that a lot of the trash ends up in the ocean and we don’t want to hurt the sea life, and that we have to take care of our planet.
You’ll be surprised at how much children understand when you explain to them the why!
PLANET-FRIENDLY TREATS AND TRICKS
Halloween doesn’t mean we have to eat conventional candy. Now you can find lots of organic, non-GMO options, and even vegan and gluten-free ones. Here are 10 Halloween candy options from food manufacturers that are trying to do the right thing:
Unreal Candy: All of its chocolate is certified by Fair Trade USA and they even use natural ingredients such as beetroot, carrot and red cabbage juices to color the candy coatings.
CLIF ZKIDS Bars/Brownies and/or Organic Fruit Ropes: These are USDA Certified Organic, and contain no artificial flavors or synthetic preservatives. My kids are not big fans of the bars but they love the fruit ropes.
YumEarth Lollipops: I like these because they are USDA Certified Organic and they have a wide variety of candy, not just lollipops.
Endangered Species Bug Bites: Although these are not organic, they are made with ethically traded cacao and are gluten-free. Plus, a percentage of the profits is donated to support conservation efforts.
GoOrganic Fruit Chews: These are Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Certified Organic. The chews are made with Fair Trade-Certified sugar, and the bulk candy comes in home-compostable, cellophane bags.
Glee Gum Pops: If you’re looking for a better version of the lollipop with gum inside, then try these. They are Non-GMO Project Verified, and one of the few North American gums still made with chicle, a tree sap harvested sustainably. The company partners with a nonprofit group to plant trees, revitalizing degraded lands.
Surf Sweets Fruity Bears: Available in Halloween treat packs of 20, they are USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified. They are also free of the 10 most-common allergens. Wholesome, which makes these bears, also sells lots of other types of candies and gummies!
Dagoba Assorted Gems: In addition to being USDA Certified Organic, these chocolates are made with cacao from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.
Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups: These are made with organic, fair trade chocolate and locally sourced ingredients. The company donates part of its proceeds to worldwide hunger relief and poverty relief.
Nib Mor Chocolate: This company’s products are organic and non-GMO. They have hot chocolate packets as well as the bite-sized treats.
I know what you’re thinking, “My neighbors give out the crappy candy…” but that doesn’t mean your child has to eat it. There are two ways around this:
Celebrate Halloween with the Switch Witch. The Switch Witch comes on Halloween night and takes all the candy that you’ve left out for her. In exchange, she leaves you a toy. Download a free template letter for the Switch Witch here.
Talk to your children about the candy and simply be honest. Explain that the candy they give out on Halloween is not made with the best ingredients and that you will switch out their Halloween candy for their organic candies of choice.
If you’re giving out treats this year, remember that there are lots of kids who have allergies and who can’t always eat the candy we give out. The best thing to do is to have a bucket of candy and a bucket of non-candy treats with toys.
This is what we do in our home and we let children choose from which bucket they want a treat. Click here for lots of ideas on non-candy treats.
FUN WAYS TO GREEN UP YOUR HALLOWEEN PARTY
Your favorite haunted holiday is scary enough without considering the large volume of waste created by Halloween celebrations. This year add a new dimension to your Halloween fun by making it more earth-friendly. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Send party invitations online: Evites save paper and are available with super cute graphics. Plus, they make it easy to keep track of your guest list.
Use natural or recycled decorations: Mother Earth provides us with pumpkins and colorful fall leaves to get us started. Get the kids involved by making creepy crafts and setting up your food display in a creepy way. Also, check second-hand stores for upcycled bargains on someone else’s discarded decorations.
Serve those pumpkin seeds: Once you’ve carved the pumpkin, rinse and roast the seeds. They are a rich source of zinc, a nutrient that supports a healthy immune system and is important to your senses of taste and smell.
Use biodegradable plates and napkins: You can find biodegradable and compostable plates and napkins, and even biodegradable cutlery. Check out these options.
Hold a pre-party costume swap: In addition to exchanging entire costumes with friends, neighbors and family, you may want to mix and match various costume components to come up with entirely new and creative ideas.
Hold a costume contest: Announce that you’ll be holding a contest for the most imaginative eco-friendly costume. You might be surprised by the imaginative costumes people make using recycled toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes and other items found around the house. Encourage your friends to come up with their own Halloween costumes. Jump online for inspiration!
Use LED and solar-powered lights: These look really beautiful at night and since they’re solar powered, you’ll save on electricity usage. Plus, they’re great to use all year round.
Entertain the kids with traditional games: Games like “Bobbing for Apples” and “Pin the Broom on the Witch” are still fun!
By switching the focus of Halloween to one that is a back-to-basics, spine-chilling good time, you’ll save a little money as well as reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill.