4 Unique Tips to a Greener Halloween

Halloween is my favorite holiday.  Confession.  It’s not just for the trick-or-treating, October 31st also happens to be my birthday.  So my childhood was filled with costumes and candy AND cake and presents.  Seriously, it was better than Christmas.  Like most things, though, Halloween has a dark side (pun intended).  With the majority of cocoa harvested by children and single-use costumes ending up in landfills, it’s time to Green your Halloween.  We can all still experience the unbridled excitement of my childhood Halloween while making just a few changes towards a much more sustainable holiday.

1. Buy Fair Trade Candy

Organic, Fair Trade Halloween Chocolates
Sjaaks Halloween Bites

Avoid the child labor and sweatshop conditions and buy Fair Trade candy.  Yes, it will cost more.  Honestly, that’s the point.  The candy we’re buying from companies like Nestle and Hershey is cheap specifically because the producers are not provided a living wage.  A luxury like chocolate shouldn’t be the driving cause of poverty in remote African villages.  By paying a little more for your chocolate, you can ensure that the cocoa growers earn a living wage and have the opportunity to send their children to school.  Here are some great companies making fair trade chocolates and candies.

Sjaak’s Chocolates – Not only does Sjaak’s make fair trade, organic chocolate bars, but they also have Halloween tubs and chocolate bars inexpensive enough to give to trick-or-treaters.  They also happen to be vegan and seriously delicious.

Endangered Species Bug Bite Chocolates
Endangered Species Bug Bites

Endangered Species Chocolates – Another reasonably priced, fair trade, organic chocolate company.  The Bug Bites make perfect Halloween give-a-ways.

Equal Exchange – Try their minis for giving out to trick-or-treaters and be sure to stock some full-sized bars for yourself. 

Lärabar – For a sweet treat that’s a little healthier, but still well-priced, try Lärabar’s bites or kids versions.  All versions are fair-trade.

Alter-Eco – A bit pricier, but well worth it. They sell only full-sized bars rather than minis.  You can buy these organic, fair trade bars by the 12-pack to save a few bucks, and they’re having an autumn special.  Use code Autumn20 for 20% off with free shipping on orders over $65.

Ocho Candy – If you want more traditional “candy bars” rather than straight chocolate bars, Ocho makes fair trade, organic “fakes” of your favorite brands. They also have Halloween bulk minis for the trick-or-treaters.

organic, fair trade candy
Go Max Go Jokerz Bar

Go Max Go – Another fair trade, non-GMO “candy bar” company.  They don’t do minis, but bonus, all of their “fakes” are vegan (and delicious – I’ve tried them all!).  You can purchase 12-bar boxes for 10% off.

Madécasse – If you really want to take the next step in sustainable chocolates, Madécasse is the way to go.  They don’t just source their cocoa from Africa under fair trade conditions, they make the entire chocolate there.  It creates jobs and provides better living for whole communities.  At $4.50 per bar, you may not want to give them to the trick-or-treaters, but definitely treat yourself.

Lagusta’s Luscious – If money isn’t a worry, check out this luxury chocolate brand.  Yes, their prices are high, but it’s oh so worth it for a little indulgence.  They use locally sourced ingredients from small businesses and only fair trade certified chocolate.  Unique truffle combinations really make this brand stand out.

Organic, Fair Trade Autumn Chocolates
Lagusta’s Luscious Autumn Truffle Box

Organic Fruit Snacks – Don’t want to give chocolate at all?  Give the kiddies organic fruit snacks.  There are numerous varieties that have no palm oil or high-fructose corn syrup out there.  Many companies also offer multi-pack sizes like Annie’s or Yum Earth.

 

2. Find a Creative Re-Use For Your Costume

You’ve probably read time and again that it is more sustainable to buy a used costume from Goodwill or ebay.  Both have huge Halloween sections, and that will also save you some money.  While that’s a great tip, I would also suggest that you consider ways to re-wear your custom after Halloween.  Turn your one-time outfit into something you can wear over and over again.

The Wedding Dress – The year after I got married, I couldn’t figure out what one is supposed to do with this expensive wedding dress, so I wore mine for Halloween!  (I won the award for “most authentic”.)  If you’re divorced or your wedding dress no longer fits properly and you’re not saving it for a child, cut out bits to make it fit, cut out some strips along the arms and bottom, dirty it up a bit and go as the Corpse Bride!

While this might be too extreme for most women (and maybe it’s better to donate it, anyway), how about trying one of these other tips?

Pirate Costume – Go as a pirate and make plans to visit your local pirate festival in spring or summer.  Pirate festivals invade both coasts every year.

Renaissance Faire Faeries
My friend, Grisel and I reuse our Faery Halloween Costumes for the Southern California Renaissance Faire, circa 2001.  She creatively re-purposed a bridesmaids dress.

Renaissance Costume – There are a surprising number of times a Renaissance costume comes in handy.  Get a good one and dazzle everyone at your local Renaissance Faire.  They happen all over the country.  (I was once invited to a Renaissance-themed wedding.)  Go as a wench, and you can wear the costume earlier in the month for Octoberfest, or get a traditional Irish Renaissance dress and wear it to your local Irish Festival.

Faery Costume – You and your children can dress up as matching Faeries and save the costumes for your local Faery Festival.  Faeries have also been spotted at Pirate and Renaissance Festivals as well as at the Oregon Country Fair.

Disney-inspired Costume – Be a Princess on your next trip to Disneyland.  If you’re a runner, join in on any of Disney’s character-themed runs where costumes are encouraged.

Comic Characters – My nephew got an anime costume for Halloween, and then wore it to his local Comic Con.  Yes, the San Diego one is the biggest, but they happen all over the country.  This is a great idea for super hero costumes as well.

Cross-over Holiday Costumes – Dress up as Santa or the Easter Bunny and then play that character for the kids on the holiday.  If you’re family likes a twist, dress up as the Christmas version of Jack Skellington.

Dressing up for Fairs and Festivals really enhances the enjoyment, and if you’re re-using an otherwise single-wear costume, all the better.

Of course, once you are done with a costume, be sure to donate it, sell it or trade it at a future Halloween Costume Swap.

 

3. Avoid the “Fast Fashion” Trap

Witchy Night Shirt

Every year big box retailers break out the holiday-themed version of Fast Fashion.  Rows of Halloween-themed apparel line store shelves.  I admit that in my younger days, I had to have a new Halloween-themed shirt every year.  Of course, now, I’m much more environmentally aware and I avoid those types of cheap and unsustainable garments.  That’s why this year, I was so thrilled to find cute fashions that were wearable any time of year, but had just enough of a Halloween tie-in that I could get my holiday fashion fix on.

Faerie’s Dance has a new brand that makes 100% certified organic cotton womens printed tops and tunics along with matching accessories from recycled cotton scraps, all knit, cut and sewn in the USA.  The screen printing uses only water-based inks, and the fabric dyes are low-impact.  We’ve already placed multiple orders, but for right now, check out our Cat Moon series (below) along with the Witchy Night Top (left).

The handwarmers and scarves make equally fun gifts at Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah or any Fall or Winter birthday, especially for cat lovers, full moon romantics, or astronomers. 😉  We have more designs and colors coming in November, too.

This iconic Cat & Moon Design can be worn any time of year, but is particularly fun for Halloween.

 

4. Donate Your Pumpkins and Compost Your Jack-o-Lanterns

Whole pumpkins and carved jack-o-lanterns shouldn’t wind up in landfill!  Jack-o-Lanterns can easily be composted or cut up and added to your yard waste bin.  Cut them up before they start “melting” on your porch.

If you like to decorate with whole pumpkins around the house and yard, consider donating them right after Halloween while they’re still in good condition.  Who wants whole pumpkins?  Why, big cats of course!  Check out this big guy having some fun with his first pumpkin.

In Oregon, Wildcat Ridge Sanctuary takes pumpkin donations.  Call them at (503) 625-0812 to set up a donation.

In California, contact the Wildlife Waystation at 818-899-5201.

In Florida, visit Big Cat Rescue or call them at 813.920.4130.

I’m sure there are many others around the country.  Do a local search to find out if there is a wild cat sanctuary near you that would love a post-Halloween treat.

 

There are so many ways to green Halloween and all your holidays.  Just take a moment to evaluate each purchase or decision.  Buy decorations from charity shops and reuse as much as possible year over year.  We can all still have fun while doing just a little better.  Wishing you all a glorious, frightfully fun Halloween.

Share this article:

How Do Clothes Effect Our Oceans and Waterways? We Sit Down with Non-Profit Ocean Blue to Find Out.

Ocean Blue an Oregon ocean nonprofit, is concerned about the impact of the textile industry on our natural water resources, specifically the clothes we all wear and wash everyday.  They contacted Faerie’s Dance to discuss whether eco-fashion represents an improvement over conventional clothing.  Adrienne Catone, Faerie’s Dance’s founder and CEO was happy to discuss what makes their threads the best option for the planet’s waterways.

Founder of Ocean Blue Project, Richard Arterbury, is concerned with the presence of chemicals and unnatural clothing fibers in our waterways. He explained how our clothing impacts our waterways, both the manufacturing and the maintenance that happens after we start wearing them.

When two environmentally friendly organization leaders join forces, or even just get together to chat about sustainability and clothing, the conversation can be quite revealing.

Richard: We really like that you offer people sustainable clothing that has the health of workers in mind as well as being environmentally friendly. Can you tell me a little bit about what makes your clothing environmentally friendly?

Adrienne: Well, there are four important pieces that we factor in when determining whether or not a piece of clothing is eco-friendly:

1. We source fabrics with no or minimal pesticide usage and minimal or closed-loop processing.  For example, organically grown cotton instead of conventional cotton – which is the highest pesticide/insecticide sprayed crop on the planet.

2. We source clothing that has been at least low-impact dyed.  Some items are undyed or clay-dyed, but we avoid items that have been conventionally dyed with harsh chemicals such as azo dyes.  You can read about dyes in this post.

3. All of our clothing has no chemical finishing agents.  Most conventional clothing is finished with a chemical soup to make them wrinkle less, stand up better to the dryer, resist fire, etc.  While these chemicals do have some benefits for the clothing, we don’t believe the benefits are worth the environmental degradation or the potential health risks to both the wearer and the factory workers.

4. Finally, we are meticulous in our verification that no sweatshop or child labor is ever used in any of the items we carry.  Most of them are Fair Trade Certified, though we do carry some brands that work with smaller factories that cannot afford the certifications.  In those cases, the manufacturers physically go to the factories on a regular basis and verify the working conditions personally.  While we buy most of our clothing from manufacturers that wholesale, we do also manufacture our own line of underwear.  All of our underwear are designed, cut and sewn in Oregon from Global Organic Textile Certified (GOTS) fabric imported from a family-owned shop in India.

Richard It sounds like you have really done your research which makes me glad that you have dedicated your work to sharing this knowledge with the world. Which fabrics do you think leave the lightest footprint on our waterways?

Adrienne​Anything grown without pesticides that also has minimal processing waste would end up being the best option all around.  We’ve done an assessment of eco-friendly fabrics, and essentially, the higher on the list you purchase, the better it will be for our waterways.

Richard​ Pesticides wash into waterways that make their way to the ocean and that’s not good for wildlife or people that get our drinking water from those waterways. It is good to know how fabrics are being processed so we can make better choices for people and wildlife.

A solution from our perspective is most of our waterways have been impeded so greatly that native plants and native trees are no longer protecting our rivers. Today the world is making better choices, but pollutants are now present in sediments that got put there from many years ago. I would like to know more about other ways clothing is processed. How does closed-loop processing help the world’s ocean?

Picture
Photo by UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR

AdrienneMost fabric production does have some waste products.  A closed-loop processing system captures the production waste and recycles it for reuse in the next round of fabric production.  Companies like Lenzing, who make both Tencel® and Modal® have achieved near 100% waste recycling.  So there’s no waste or runoff at all into waterways or oceans.  Closed-loop production is really the future of fashion.

RichardThose are the kind of solutions we like to hear about. Clothing dyes also impact waterways and the ocean. So, can you tell me more about what you have found about those impacts?

Adrienne​As I mentioned before, conventional dyes can have really harsh, and in some cases, carcinogenic chemicals.  Unfortunately, the dyeing process creates a lot of waste.  The single biggest improvement of low-impact dyes over conventional dyes is the enormous reduction in waste output.

Richard: It is deeply concerning that fibers from plastic based clothing come off in the wash and end up making their way through water treatment plants, eventually flowing into waterways to the world’s ocean. These plastic fibers are also found in our drinking water. Would you say it’s better to have plastics go to a landfill than to be made into products that will end up in the ocean?

Picture
Synthetic Polymer Contamination

Adrienne​Actually, a huge portion of non-recycled plastic do end up in our oceans.  So RePET fibers keep a lot of plastic out of the ocean rather than just out of landfill. So I guess the question would be is it better to have a lot of plastic in the ocean (a lot being defined as an entire garments worth) or a little plastic in our waterways (a little being defined as the small amount of the garment that leeches away during the wash)?

Richard​What’s worse? Is it a large piece that gets churned over time, or the piece that’s microscopic that we can’t see? The answers to these questions may be filled in over time by researchers, but until then we can keep cleaning it up and your company can keep making our footprint as light as possible like you have been doing. One thing that I really love about Faeries Dance is that you are offering solutions for a One World Ocean.

Oregon ocean nonprofit collecting beach litter
Debris Found on Oregon Beaches

To learn more about the Ocean Blue Project, checkout their Mission Page.

 

Share this article:

9 Creative Green Gift Wrapping Ideas

Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard of wrapping your gifts with newspaper.  But who wants all that ink on your fingers while you unwrap, and really, who still gets newspapers anyway?  Save the newspapers to make paper bows.  Eco-gift wrapping can be much more fun and creative than that.

  1. Have some old road maps in the car?  Use those to wrap gifts for the traveler in the family.
  2. Wrap smaller gifts with magazine pages.  They’re glossy, full-color and you can be creative about what images you show.
  3. Is your fridge overrun with toddler art? Wrap grandparents gifts in art projects from the kid’s school. The wrapping itself will give them a little extra joy.
  4. Wrap gifts with gifts.  Are you giving someone tea towels or pillow cases? Use towels to wrap up other gifts, so both the wrapping and the wrapped item are gifts to themselves.
  5. Giving someone a t-shirt with a print?  Wrap another gift with the t-shirt print showing outward.  Again, you’ve got a double-gift.
  6. Buying online a lot this season?  Take the paper filler from online purchases and use rolling stamps or large background stamps to make your own festive wrapping paper.
  7. Instead of buying gift bags, pick up festive reusable shopping bags at the grocery or department store. Most stores have bright colored ones, and they can be used year-round saving plastic bags every time your recipient goes shopping.
  8. Make your own gift basket by cutting up old magazines or even the colorful grocery fliers that come in the mail and using them as liner in the bottom of a basket, watering can, flower pot or large coffee mug.  Put your gifts on top and add a festive bow. Just remember to skip the cellophane.
  9. If all else fails, buy recycled and recyclable wrapping paper.

With just a little creativity the holidays can be beautifully wrapped up without all the paper waste.

 

Share this article: