The Great Green Halloween Grinch

November 1st, 2011

Now that Halloween is over, I’ll confess.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been biting my tongue to keep from sounding like the Great Green Halloween Grinch.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Halloween as much as anyone. Dressing up in costume, trick or treating, and childhood memories make it one of my favorite celebrations. I’ll even admit to owning some hideously tacky Halloween stuff like this “Frank the Monster” (purchased at Lillian Vernon in my pre-green days).

Tacky Halloween Decorations

So what’s turning me into a Halloween Grinch? Waste. Over commercialism.  The virtual disappearance of time honored traditions like Trick or Treat for Unicef and Bobbing for Apples. The appearance of Halloween décor that rivals Tacky, Tacky Christmas decorations.   Retailers shipping back pumpkins – before Halloween – to make way for Christmas décor.

To be sure, there have been incredible strides in making Halloween more “green.”  In just four years, Corey and Lynn have grown Green Halloween from a regional event to a nationwide costume swap and more.

And yet….. during “green Halloween” twitter chats, sustainably minded “green moms” wonder how to “get rid of” all the candy their kids bring home. The SwitchWitch, who takes Halloween candy away and replaces it with a gift, is a popular option. The First Lady suggests letting kids keep their candy for a few days before confiscating it. Dentists advertise “trade in” plans – $1 for each pound of candy turned in. And there are organizations like MoverMoms who collect candy to send to the troops.

Why are we spending so much money on something that we’re disposing of the very next day? I just don’t remember all this angst as a kid. My candy stash lasted for months. If parents talked about getting rid of candy, it went over my head.

This morning, I heard on the news that Americans spent $7 Billion on Halloween candy, costumes, decorations and more.

How much of that $7B could be redirected towards truly important things that we value, rather than items that we throw out days later?

I know, I know…I sound like a Halloween Grinch. Told ya. That’s why I kept quiet for so long.

What do you think about how we celebrate Halloween?

— Lynn

11 Responses to “The Great Green Halloween Grinch”

  1. Betsy (Eco-novice) on November 1, 2011 9:43 pm

    I have a very bad attitude about Halloween. If my husband didn’t take my little ones trick-or-treating, they wouldn’t go. I also have trouble understanding why my kids need to collect candy just so I can secretly take it away (and save it for next year’s trick-or-treaters usually). I hate the crappy costumes too. I like two things about Halloween — pumpkin patches and watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” It’s like the goody bags from b-day parties — can’t we all agree to give away less stuff that is higher quality? But I’m not really leading the charge either. I don’t feel motivated to purchase the “good stuff” (expensive fair trade, decent ingredient candy) when everyone else is giving out crap and the kids couldn’t care less anyway. I do look for candy with fewer objectionable ingredients (preservatives, artificial colors), but that’s it. So, no greeny awards for me in this dept.
    Betsy (Eco-novice)´s last blog post ..Handmade Gifts for Kids from Etsy shop Kidsstore: Giveaway and Review

  2. Bethesda Locavore on November 2, 2011 3:45 am

    Totally with you. My big pet peeve is that we buy all these pumpkins for decoration, then throw them in the garbage and go out to buy cans of pumpkin puree for our traditional, seasonal holiday meals. There is just so much waste …

  3. Lynn on November 2, 2011 4:30 am

    Ha! You two crack me up. Glad I came out as a closet grinch. And I FORGOT to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! :)

  4. mcmilker on November 2, 2011 6:53 am

    Last year I was so excited when my son showed up with a Unicef collection box from Scouts. I remember trick or treating for Unicef as a child.

    Unfortunately, the neighbors all looked at it like it was a foreign object and a number said they had no change – we need to pitch Unicef, Lynn and get them to do a bit better marketing of the program again!

    So we did not do Unicef this year – but I’m finding a number of ways to dispose of the “too much candy” – Operation Gratitude for the troops, plus some for childless work friends and spiriting some away every few days for me!

    Our best tactic though has been to limit the actual time trick or treating…an hour is just fine for elementary school kids..fortunately our neighbors agree and all the kids troop home by 8:00.

  5. Beth @ North Park Homestead on November 2, 2011 6:57 am

    We tend to keep it pretty low key around here, despite the neighbor’s yard full of decorations. We had friends over and the kids went out – just around the block. We also keep the candy stash around for months, doling out a couple pieces after dinner each night.

    This year we have a good option for the pumpkin, too. We ate the seeds. The chickens ate the guts, and now they’re going to get a crack at the remains of the jack-o-lantern. After they take what they want, we’ll toss the rest into the compost.
    Beth @ North Park Homestead´s last blog post ..5 things you can do now to help you get the most from this winter’s rains

  6. Lynn on November 2, 2011 1:09 pm

    Hey Beth and MC, good to hear from you both! And one more reminder…gotta bake those pumpkin seeds! :)

  7. Anna on November 5, 2011 4:14 pm

    O M G this is really a good one… if I would see one like this in the street, I would start to run reall fast :)
    Anna´s last blog post ..5 Tips On How to Make a Relationship Work

  8. julie on November 9, 2011 8:57 pm

    Lynn, I love it when you go all Grinchy on us. I felt rather Grinchy to discover that Halloween had spread to Australia, too. When we moved back from MD, USA, to Sydney, Australia, Halloween was a holiday I was happy bury … you could say i wanted to nail the lid on its coffin, all puns intended.

    In the USA, I found the big ugly skeletons and the full size fake headstones were too gruesome, as did my kids.

    I did love seeing the little kids, when they were little but the teen punks who were menacing in their requests for candy pissed me off.

    I loved having a few friends to drink wine and watch it all go by. But I hated the candy, which the kids didn’t like much anyway.

    To my horror, I discovered that Halloween was growing in popularity in Australia, but it is done in a more discretionary way. It seems areas with lots of kids may do it just among their neighbors. Those that do put up a pumpkin or something, but it is much more low key.

    People give out a bit of candy, often individual pieces unlike the U.S. where largely irrational fears of poisoning mean kids get those snack packs. Anyway, I took my kids to a friend’s Halloween celebration, another returnee from the USA. They showed no interest at all, rejected their American birthright, and spent two hours on the trampoline and practising cricket.

    They’d given up the ghost of Halloween in less than four months since we’d moved.

    Good luck with your attempts to change the culture in the USA.


  9. Bill on November 10, 2011 3:16 pm

    You bring up a valid point but the reality is so many people waste their money on superficial things when they could be spending it on their health. People choose to drive fast cars instead of spending their money on organic foods. We have a huge mix up of priorities and hopefully with more education people will become more considerate of their own health.

  10. Suzanne Holt on November 17, 2011 9:35 am

    $7B on candy is insane! Oh my goodness? Our economy is in such shambles yet $7 billion dollars are spent on candy, costumes and decorations? Wow! That’s shocking!

  11. Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green on November 17, 2011 11:04 pm

    I don’t have kids so I like some parts of Halloween. I don’t go to big box stores much so I don’t see much of the waste. This year I went to a Halloween party a few days before Halloween, I enjoyed dressing up and it was an adult party and a lot of fun.

    If I had kids I think I would do reverse Trick-or-Treating and buy them a gift and a little bit of natural candy or bake their favorite treats. I have a major sweet tooth so I know I would have been sad with no candy as a kid but I would have been find with the natural stuff, it’s awesome!! haha Of course I can’t know for sure this would work but it would be my plan.

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