In ancient times Halloween was the celebration of the fall harvest. This holiday marks a specific change in seasons – and celebrates the ending of one natural cycle and the beginning of a new rhythm.
In our modern times, Halloween has become America’s second largest commercial holiday, grossing nearly 6 billion dollars. A very large portion of today’s celebrations center around not tricks or treats, but rather plastic – costumes, decorations, loot bags, masks, candy wrappers, etc. and of course, outer packaging shrink-wrapped around all of it. Most of this ends up in landfills where it will sit for the next 500 years or so, if it doesn’t end up in one of our ocean’s garbage patches – or in the bellies of our wildlife.
With Earth’s limited resources, pollution issues and serious economical stresses, we must all strive to be more sustainable… even (and especially) during our holiday celebrations.
This year, revive old traditions, learn about the things that go bump in the night and honor our world by taking this holiday back to it’s roots. Say farewell to the autumn’s mild days and embrace the coming winter with open arms.
Some suggestions for being environmentally (and financially) conscious during this year’s festivities:
- Buy locally grown pumpkins, visit the farmers market or an actual farm to choose your Jack O’lantern! Speak to local CSAs and see if you can learn about the harvest season while you’re there, as well as organic and sustainable living! Plan to grow your own pumpkins next year. And don’t forget to compost the lantern’s corpse when it’s all said and done! Use any hay bails to mulch your flower beds for winter.
- Turn out the lights! Use candles for a more natural (and spooky!) glow. Be creative, use small carved pumpkins, old glass jars, flower pots, etc.
- Use solar lights to light outside paths. The sun’s energy is environmentally friendly and free! Get shake-able flash-lights, the kids will love you for it!
- Use LED lights, they last more than 130 times longer than incandescent and cost 80% less to use.
- Use canvas bags for gathering treats or make them from pillow cases or other old cloth items! Have a family decorating night, then after the holiday, pack them away like Christmas stockings to reuse again next year! Create an heirloom! (Americans use 380 million plastic bags annually, these will never biodegrade.)
- Buy less individually wrapped candies, or buy candies wrapped in paper or foil. Make your own just like our moms used to do! Childhood obesity and childhood diabetes are at an all-time high. Choose healthy, chemical and dye-free organic options!
And of course, reuse and recycle costumes. The Goodwill is a great place to start, or even way in the back of your own closet. Kids love to wear old work uniforms, old prom dresses… not to mention how devastating it is to show up in the exact same super hero costume as the other kid. So grab the scissors and glue, pop some popcorn and be creative!
Not only can you conserve resources and dollars this Halloween, you can take the opportunity to teach the kids the true meaning of this ancient celebration of season’s change.
Click HERE for a great list of Pumpkin Patches, hay rides & corn mazes in Georgia.
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