Green Halloween, a Puget Sound-based national movement to make Halloween more healthy for children and more sustainable for the planet, has officially been launched in Edmonds.
Led by Melinda Knight, an Edmonds business owner and mother of two, Green Halloween Edmonds has the support of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce and will be incorporated into downtown Edmonds’ annual Halloween festivities this year. (My Edmonds News profiled Knight and her online business for women inventors, Womentorz.com, last year.)
We asked Knight to share with us the concept of Green Halloween, and why she decided to take the lead in bringing this innovative idea to Edmonds:
How did Green Halloween begin?
It was started in 2006 by Bellevue-area mom Corey Caldwell-Lipson after she took her two children trick-or-treating and was delighted to find some homes offering non-candy treats like bubbles and stickers. She began thinking about Halloween as a whole and about how it is hard to find treats that are kid healthy, realizing also that parents don’t have the time, inclination or money to seek out alternatives to conventional candy. She had a conversation with her local Whole Foods Market store and that quickly turned into a movement with other organizations and businesses wanting to take part in making Halloween healthier and safer for our children and for the environment.
Parents from all over the Puget Sound began contacting her to find out how they could bring Green Halloween to their neighborhoods, and merchandisers began asking if they could put the Green Halloween logo on their items. Corey also involved a local non-profit partner, Treeswing, which improves the heath of children through nutrition and exercise. As a result of Green Halloween’s success locally in 2007, Corey used the model created in Seattle to bring Green Halloween nationwide. By 2009, Green Halloween official cities included Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Tampa, Daytona Beach and New York City. This year, even more cities are joining — including Edmonds!
It’s incredibly exciting to be involved in Green Halloween and through it, to help bring communities together. I’m proud to be part of this effort to offer fun, healthy, affordable, not-too-time consuming ideas to create a Halloween that is happy and healthy for our kids and the planet we all share.
What motivated you to bring Green Halloween to Edmonds?
I was so impressed with what Corey was providing to parents and children across the nation with Green Halloween that I thought it would be a perfect fit for the Downtown Edmonds Halloween festivities. My son Payton has a peanut allergy, so Halloween is always a difficult time for us. There’s so much candy that isn’ t safe for him to eat due to packaging on small wrappers. In my case, having something besides candy yet still celebratory of Halloween would be ideal
I love the concept of bringing healthier and greener alternatives to local businesses, parents and children. I’m proud to be able to support Corey’s efforts by hosting Green Halloween and bringing this novel idea to our community.
How can people who live and work in Edmonds get involved?
There are lots of ways individuals and businesses can get involved! Just by sharing this information with your friends, family and local businesses can help get the word out. When you introduce Green Halloween concepts and products to your local grocery store, schools, neighborhoods and businesses, you are supporting a healthier and greener alternative. You can find much more information here on how people and businesses can be involved. If you’re a business that is interested in promoting your products and/or services as well as supporting a greener lifestyle, you can become a sponsor.Here’s more information on the various sponsorship levels.
The first event related to Green Halloween Edmonds is a Costume Swap, which is schedule for Oct. 9. The location is still to be determined, but if you follow the Green Halloween Edmonds Facebook Fan Page, more information will be posted there. My Edmonds News will also be updating you on Green Halloween Edmonds news.
For those who are skeptical: It’s just one day – why does it matter?
We have to start someplace if we want to improve the health of our children and our planet. Halloween is a beginning. It offers a platform for us to focus attention not just on this holiday, but on how we have become consumers of things that do all of us harm. So it’s not about one day, but about changing a lifetime one step and one holiday at a time. In addition this one day calls attention to larger issues such as:
-This generation of kids has a life expectancy that is shorter than their parents.
-Environmental working group found that 10 of 10 tested children’s face paints contained lead.
-The EPA considers that 60 percent of all herbicides, 90 percent of all fungicides and 30 percent of all insecticides found in non-organically grown foods are carcinogenic.
-Over 6,000 synthetic chemicals are used in the processed-food industry.
-A 2004 study found that children’s behavior measurably improved after a one-week diet without preservatives and artificial colors and dramatically worsened on the weeks they were given preservatives and artificial colors.
-Cocoa beans used for chocolate that are grown in full sun (as opposed to shade) are susceptible to disease and therefore require heavy doses of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
-The chocolate industry has engaged in the use of child slaves and other unethical treatments of growers.
-Store-bought costumes, makeup and accessories may contain phthalates, cadmium, lead and other toxins.
-Roughly 25 million children in the United States celebrate Halloween. Swapping half of their costumes would reduce annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons, equivalent to the weight of 2500 mid-size cars!
No candy?! How are my kids going to react?
Every child is different. Some are already budding environmentalists and are simply looking for guidance from adults about how to apply their passion for the planet into their lives. For these kids, the transition from a traditional Halloween into a green one will likely be easy. Other children may be upset, disappointed or angry at the idea of giving up what they have known and what they expect. This is completely understandable and is one reason Green Halloween is placing a great deal of emphasis on children in the 1- 5 age ranges. Young children have fewer expectations of holiday traditions and will generally be open to creating new ones.
Regarding older children, we believe it is important for parents to talk openly with their kids about why they’ve chosen to reduce or eliminate traditional treats. Let your kids know that you care about their health, the health of other people’s children and the health of our planet. Ask them how they feel about the changes and ask them for their ideas on how Halloween can be made healthier and greener. You may be surprised by what they come up with. Be open to incorporating their ideas and encourage them to be involved with the planning of your Green Halloween. Tweens and teens may be given choices. Perhaps they can do less trick-or-treating and have a party instead. For the party, they can help you choose healthy food and prizes.
This is not an all-or-nothing situation. As a parent, you can be both a guide and a partner with your child regardless of his age. And remember that your child takes cues from you. If you are excited about new traditions, your child is more likely to be as well. Regardless of their age, you may decide that it’s okay for your child to have some candy. If so, one idea is to allow children to keep a predetermined amount and then trade the rest for some other things that they enjoy like a book or appropriate CD or some coupons for skating, horseback riding or any other activity they might enjoy.
Lastly — and it might sound surprising — what Corey and Lynn found is that it is parents who may actually have a harder time making the change than their children. This may be because in our day, candy actually was a treat, or because children today are quite savvy about health and environmental issues. Parents may remember their own Halloween traditions and want to re-create them for their own children, which is completely understandable. But what Corey and Lynn found in 2007 shocked even them: Of the thousands of children they met at Green Halloween events, not one child of any age (from 2 to teen) said that they would rather have conventional candy when they saw the alternatives we were suggesting. Not one.