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.

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Eco-Fashion Saved My Life – A Customer Spotlight Story

In 2005 two full tanks of propane oil spilled out into Mary’s basement due to a faulty valve.  The entire house became a toxic oil spill.  After two months of attempting to clean up the spill while still living in the house, Mary and her husband gave up and abandoned their home.  Unfortunately, they had stayed longer than was prudent, and Mary’s slight chemical sensitivities turned acute.

Mary became allergic to almost every finishing agent, dye, pesticide and petroleum-based product in clothing.  She would get paralyzing weakness and severe asthma-like reactions to most garments along with skin rashes and shortness of breath.  She started a desperate search to find clothing that didn’t make her sick.  She found one company that made 100% organic cotton men’s lounge pants with drawstring waistbands and plain organic cotton t-shirts that she didn’t react to and bought dozens of them.  She found she could tolerate organically grown wool that had been processed without chemicals.  With a deep love of animals, she was cautious to buy only hand sheared wool from pasture-raised sheep in Ireland.  And for the next 8 years, she wore only men’s lounge pants, t-shirts and Irish wool sweaters.

The Allergen-Free Side-Tie Bra offers relief from skin rashes and other sensitivities.

In 2013 she lamented to a friend that what she missed the most was wearing a bra.  As an older woman, she was uncomfortable going out without one, especially in summer.  However, she couldn’t tolerate them at all and hadn’t been able to wear one in years.  Her husband stepped in and did some internet searches for her, and he stumbled upon FaeriesDance.com.  He bought her the Allergen-Free Side-Tie Bra.

When it arrived, Mary tried it on, and for the first time in many years, she was not only able to tolerate a bra, but also found it downright comfortable.  While it wasn’t the most supportive bra she’d ever worn, she was absolutely thrilled to be able to wear a bra when going out in public and felt feminine for the first time in ages.

 

 

At 100% Organic Cotton with no latex or spandex, Mary was so thrilled with the Button Tunic she had us special order one in every color.

Excited and empowered, Mary called Faerie’s Dance to find out if we could help her with other clothing (and to buy a bunch more bras).  After listening carefully to her list of allergies, we recommend a number of beautiful, feminine fashions.  She purchased the first few tops manufactured by Indigenous Designs with both trepidation and hope.  Every single piece worked!  She called again and together we started working on getting her some skirts, and then cardigans, dresses, jackets and finally pants.  She literally had no wardrobe at all, so she made a monthly budget and picked up a few new pieces every month.

Most of the fashions were from Indigenous, but with recommendations she also got intimates from Cottonique and Love Nature, a hemp jacket from Jonano, the Hillary Fleece Dress from Curator, socks from Peau-Ethique and more.

Since 2013, Mary has not only become a consistent customer, but a friend as well, telling stories of her frog pond, her pets and her life in general.  She starts every phone call with what she’s wearing.  She picked up the Alba Padded Underwire Bra, and while it does have a touch of spandex in it, she is able to wear it for a few hours at a time for special occasions.  She called excited one day to say that when she put on the Alba bra with her Sunny Day Dress, her husband actually did a double take, “checking her out” for the first time in years.

 

The cheerful Sunny Day Dress

 

Today Mary says eco-fashion has saved her life.  She feels beautiful, comfortable and feminine in her clothes (though she’s too shy to let us post her picture).  She’s more comfortable in public and able to dress appropriately for any season.  She doesn’t have a single pair of baggy men’s lounge pants left in her closet!  When asked after all this time what her very favorite purchase was, she goes back to that original Cottonique bra.  She has half a dozen now and wears them every day. 

When I started Faerie’s Dance, my focus was on the environmental side of eco-fashion.  I quickly learned about the social justice benefits as well.  But I was wholly unaware of the many allergy sufferers who were literally getting sick from their clothing.  It’s such an honor to help people like Mary find clean, sustainable, fairly traded fashion.

What’s your eco-fashion success story?  

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GIVEAWAY: Win a Swegmark Organic Cotton Bra of Your Choice – ENDED

 

Organic cotton padded underwire bra
Alicia Padded Underwire Bra

It’s true!  Win your favorite Fair Trade, Organic Cotton Bra from Swegmark of Sweden. Since we brought this collection in last year, these bras have become our customers favorites.  There are now 10 styles to choose from including 8 of Swegmark’s signature full-coverage, wire free, organic bras plus an organic cotton sports bra and now a lightly padded, underwire bra.

 

All of these organic bras have wide, adjustable comfort straps and 3-position hook-and-eye back closures for the perfect fit.  They are well-constructed with wide underbust bands for great support and coverage.  Sizes range from 34B – 46DDD.  Not all bras come in all sizes, but the winner will have the option of choosing any of our in-stock options.  We have Swegmark bras in white, nude, pink, blue, grey and black.

If you don’t get your perfect size on the first go, you can even send it back and we’ll do an exchange for you.  Once you’ve tried this brand of comfort, stylish, sustainable bras, we don’t think you’ll ever choose anything else.   So go ahead and enter below. The winner will be announced Monday, November 27.

 

organic cotton fair trade no wire bra
Wellness Dots Bra
Fair Trade Organic Cotton Bra
Faithful Full Coverage Bra

 

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Eco-Fashion Warehouse Sale & Sustainable Living Showcase

Have you been wanting to try on one (or a whole bunch) of our products in person?  Your opportunity is here!

The event will run from 11am – 5pm on Saturday, August 26, 2017.  We’ll be doing raffle prize drawings every 30 minutes starting at 11:30am.  You must be present to win a prize, so be sure to leave some time for your visit with us.  You could easily get into 2 or 3 drawings while you try on clothes and meet with these other wonderful Portland-area women business owners.

Dr. Kayla Luhrs will be there to help you develop a wellness plan for conscious living.  

Amanda Bishop will show you how to make your own cleaning products using common household items and essential oils. 

Angela Stevens will chat with you about buying and selling real estate, or how to green the home you currently own.

 

Our warehouse is located minutes from this years Street of Dreams site.  We’ll be raffling off tickets to Street of Dreams at noon, so be sure to come early and check it out.

We’re also giving away 25 “Goodie Bags” to the first 25 people who RSVP either on our Facebook Event Page or by calling us at (971) 255-0752.

 

Here is a (partial) list of the prizes on offer for our raffle:

  1. 2 individual tickets to Street of Dreams
  2. PrAna Bag
  3. PrAna Eco Yoga Matt
  4. Maggie’s Bee Socks
  5. Maggie’s Scarf
  6. Swegmark bra of your choice
  7. Blue Canoe logo tee
  8. From War to Peace Make Art Not War Necklace
  9. Earth Creations Fingerless Gloves (multiple colors)
  10. Earth Creations Infinite Scarf (multiple colors)
  11. Spun Bamboo men’s Boxer Briefs
  12. dōTERRA Essential Oil Starter Kit
  13. Cottonique hair accessories.  (Also in Goodie Bags!)
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Can Organic Clothing Manufactured in China Really be Trusted?

One of the questions we get A LOT is about organic clothing manufacturing in China.  There is a belief that garment manufacturing in China automatically means low wages and lots of pollution.  Many of our customers avoid anything made in China at all.  However, some sustainably-minded companies are still manufacturing organic clothing lines in China and it’s time to take a closer look at why they are.  For one thing, garment industry wages in China are increasing rapidly.  “Cheaper” clothing lines are actually leaving China for Africa and East Asia, where wages remain ridiculously low.  Additionally, organic clothing manufacturers are working with third party certifiers such as the Global Organic Textile Standard, OEKO-TEX, and Fair Trade International to ensure their Chinese-made goods are meeting environmental, safety and ethical employment standards.  Many of our USA made goods actually carry fewer certifications.

We caught up with Jane Nemis, owner of Echo Verde clothing for an interview on why they still manufacture in China.

Jane Nemis of Echo Verde visits a Chinese organic garment factory.

Faerie’s Dance: What influenced your company to manufacture in China?

Jane Nemis:  I had been working in China when it was the only producer of eco/organic fabrics (18 years ago) and formed relationships with factories that I still have to this day.

FD: How long have you worked with your current factory in China?

Jane:  We have several factories – depending on sweaters or cut/sew knits – some are new 2 years and several are 6 years – 2 are 15 years.

FD: How often do you travel to China directly to meet the people who make your clothing?

Jane:  Twice yearly.

FD: Can you tell us about your relationship with the folks who make your clothing?

Jane:  There is still wide-spread opinion that sourcing and manufacturing clothing in Asia-and more specifically in China is a desire for cheap labor and that the conditions under which people work is not good. The truth, though, is much more complicated and nuanced, or just plain not true!  Our Chinese manufacturers have become experts in working with organic and eco textiles and they produce some of the highest quality goods at competitive prices. All of our factories are reviewed for workers’ conditions and all must show proof of third party monitoring of social and environmental conditions. We have formed relationships with these factories from our years of visiting them in China and their owners and many of the ladies that work there are now our friends!

They have also listened to us over the years and instituted changes which have bettered the living and working conditions of their staff.

While the work ethic in China may not seem “perfect” to our standards, it is considered to be a skilled trade now to be a garment worker.  They bring home a middle-class income and many factories now have health care.  Many of the workers support their families and send their children to school based on the money they earn cutting/sewing and finishing our goods. The factories we work with are all family owned and smaller operations that employ workers from the surrounding areas. This means we are able to support families staying together. There are many sweatshops all over the world including specifically in New York and LA. It is important to us that we can personally monitor conditions and we have a partner that respects and listens to our requests for change.

Our workers are honest, hard-working, and family oriented and doing the best that they can to make a living. They depend on us for this. When we visit the factories, the ladies laugh and joke with us and teach us new words in mandarin. They are free to come and go to the bathrooms, they have tea and water available at all times and they are free to stop work and share a chat with their friends. The food they are served is the same as I eat when there (free lunch tokens are given out) and it is good and balanced and they have access to fresh fruit and vegetables. One of our factories has even built a small meditation garden where workers can walk during their breaks and get some fresh air and enjoy the greenery. Both our knit factories have adopted stray dogs from the local area and care for them like family pets.

These ladies make our clothes!

FD: Do your factories have any certifications (WRAP, GOTS, OEKO-TEX, etc.) and can you explain what that entails?

Jane:  Yes, one factory has WRAP the other has a European version of WRAP and the very small ones cannot afford the costs so I just make sure they are following the same standards.

All our factories are small – we paid for one factory to get WRAP certification but while many big businesses can list an impressive amount of certifications – the reality is this is out of reach for most small family owned operations.  Cost for WRAP was around $350 USD for a small factory of 23 employees.  So it is impossible to do this for all our little factories even though they use the same standards (or higher).  Bigger companies can afford to pay for WRAP and FLA (Fair Labour) is even higher $1200 USD which is to be paid as a yearly fee.

FD: Do the fabrics you work with have any certifications?

Jane:  Yes, bamboo is 100% certified organic, cotton is 100% certified organic, wool is produced using humane farming practices and non harmful chemicals to process it.

FD: Some of our clients are concerned with Chinese factories “faking” certifications or claiming certifications they don’t actually hold.  Is this a real concern? 

Jane:  Yes, I would say this is more related to large scale operations – they can afford to bribe the certifying body – I have heard about it but have never experienced it first hand.  I would say it is a real concern with anything that is produced on a large scale for low cost… organic is expensive – as are good working conditions.

FD: Can you tell us a little bit about what modern Chinese facilities are like?

Jane:  Here are some pictures – they are like any factory I walk into here in Canada or USA.  Some are much better kept actually.  Very  neat, all windows are open in summer and doors.  Well ventilated, lots of natural light and each worker has their own chair/light/table.

FD: What other information can you give us to assuage the negative connotation that is still often associated with garments that are Made in China?

Jane:  Another reason that we manufacture in Asia is because all of the eco textiles originate from Asia, and one of our goals is to have our production facilities as close as possible to where our fabric, hardware and fixtures originate, this has been proven to reduce the environmental impact of shipping.   Did you know that much of the cotton produced in the US is sent to either China or India for milling before coming back into the states?  So really, if you go to the root of the garment – it is possible almost every piece of clothing has come from China in some way.

I would add is that I find it frustrating that there is such a negative connotation with Chinese goods.  The US has spent the past few decades growing trade with China and helping to bring the work up to standard, pay etc.  This is primarily why all the cheap brands have moved to countries without any work conditions in place (Bangladesh, US Samoa, Cambodia, Areas of Africa) – I also think other big industry has not kept pace and there are still horror stories of people falling asleep making cell phones and getting little to no pay for extremely poor work conditions.  So unfortunately, I think this is the impression that is given in the media – these are the things that make the headlines – not the goods news.

FD: Is there anything you’d like to add or would you like to bring up any points we may have missed?

Jane:  Just to stress that we have worked a long time with our factories and they rely on us – that’s how they make a living.  So although we may do some production locally, we will continue to support them.   It is impossible to do the sweaters we make in US or Canada.  The machinery just does not exist anymore.

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