The first official Green Halloween took place three years ago. Corey's germ of an idea about making Halloween healthier for kids and the planet was an instant hit in the Seattle area, where we live and where we launched.
Last year, Green Halloween grew from a local community initiative to a national one, with cities including San Francisco, LA, Phoenix and others creating their own events and expanding our ideas into schools, churches, community centers and to thousands of individuals.
This year, our third, New York City came on board. We partnered with Dr. Oz's organization, HealthCorps and the arts focused Action Arts League to create a Green Halloween that was uniquely Big Apple.
We were fortunate to be in NYC to experience a full afternoon of Green Halloween fun in DeSalvio Park in the city's historic Little Italy area. Watching the kids and their parents participate in amusing activities that had absolutely nothing to do with collecting candy, reinforced our belief that Halloween doesn't have to be focused on overindulging our sweet teeth.
Youngsters who showed up did enjoy trick or treating though. About a dozen stores in the neighborhood had signed on to provide costumed kiddos with alternatives to conventional candy. We had no idea what they would be handing out and neither did the children. We were surprised and delighted to discover the store managers' creative ideas–bags of popcorn, stickers, rice cakes (which, believe it or not, the kids scarfed down like they hadn't eaten in a week). A bookstore gave out beautiful children's books with environmental themes and a resale shop gave everyone a new sweat shirt. Some stores handed items to parents too. Not one child appeared disappointed that they received not a single candy bar!
If you are considering some changes to upcoming holidays to make them a bit more eco-friendly and healthier for your family, let the ideas behind Green Halloween be your guide. Provide lots of fun, interesting, creative and healthier alternatives to what is expected. Most important of all, have faith in your children's capacity for enjoyment of things that are different. In our experience, kids are a lot more flexible than adults and willingly embrace what is better for them and the Earth when these choices are presented in enticing ways.
Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are a mother-daughter team and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at www.CelebrateGreen.net.