You might be familiar with a local dentist who offers his or her patients a dollar (or some other reward) for every pound of candy they turn in after Halloween. And every neighborhood has at least one family that pops a toothbrush or a strip of stickers instead of a Hershey Bar into trick-or-treaters’ bags.
Sammamish resident Corey Colwell-Lipson wants to take this Halloween idea to a whole new level.
Out trick-or-treating with her young daughters last Halloween, Colwell-Lipson found that she appreciated the households that were handing out the stickers or pencils. Wanting to visit them the following year, she realized that she’d never be able to remember where they were located. She remarked to another parent that a sign might be nice, something that families could place in their windows to alert trick-or-treaters that healthful treats were being given out here. Kids would be able to search their neighborhoods for the signs, adding a different dimension to a holiday that traditionally has been only about sweet-tooth indulgence.
Her experience led to the creation of Green Halloween, an organization that encourages families to celebrate the holiday in more healthful and eco-conscious ways. Green Halloween launches this year with a splash, with a local fundraising event and a website that families can visit for “green” Halloween treasure ideas, tips on talking to kids about the shift in focus from candy to non-candy prizes, and a downloadable Green Halloween sign to post in the window.
Does this sound like overkill? Adults harnessing a kids’ holiday to grownup concerns about environmentalism and health? Isn’t it OK to have one day when our usual concerns go out the window? After all, coming home from trick-or-treating with a sackful of sugar is a highlight of many children’s year. As Colwell-Lipson’s personal-trainer father asked, “What’s wrong with giving kids candy on Halloween?”
“If it was still once a year, not much,” says Colwell-Lipson. The problem is that kids aren’t just receiving candy once a year, and even well-meaning parents might not realize how much sugar kids pull down during the celebration of holidays year-round. “Green Halloween is calling attention to the fact that we’re in a major health crisis with kids,” she says. “I think [it is] our responsibility to take care of this.
“I’m trying to change the term ‘trick or treat’ to ‘trick or treasure,’” Colwell-Lipson says. “Imagine … getting all kinds of different treasures for Halloween, from polished rocks and whistles to pencils made out of recycled money.” Kids take their cues from their parents and remember fun times they have with their families, she adds. “They’re not going to remember their Halloween candy.”
If you’re concerned about adding one more thing to worry about to a parenting dance card already overflowing with “shoulds,” take heart. Colwell-Lipson views Green Halloween as a continuum; you can dip in at any point or any level you care to. The organization’s website functions as a place to start. “Green Halloween provides ideas that can meet families wherever they are around the continuum. I want to make them easy, accessible, affordable. I’ve already done the research for you. You can come there and get ideas on what to do with Halloween.”
So far, she seems to have articulated our deep sense of unease about our children’s health, and says that the response from communities (both in the Seattle area and from other cities such as Portland and Los Angeles) has been swift and enthusiastic. “We’re creating a model for how a community can come together on an important issue and make changes,” she says. “We shouldn’t apologize to kids for caring about their health. My expectation is that in five to 10 years, we’re going to look back and be surprised at how our Halloween tradition used to be. The kids in this generation or the next will say, ‘Wow, they gave [candy].’”
Other “green” fun
The Creation Station is the go-to place for wild recycled materials for the DIY costume crowd. 19511 64th Ave. W., Lynnwood. 425-775-7959.
On the web
Green Halloween: Find out where you can find Green Halloween at events around town; ideas for greening your holidays; much more.