Halloween is looming, and kids all over will be bringing home bags and buckets of “treats” loaded with chemicals, corn syrup, allergens, food coloring, artificial flavors and lots more horrible ingredients.
Want to hand out something special for neighborhood kids but don’t want to add to the nastiness? Here’s some fun green options:
- Books: When I was growing up, my mother always mortified me by handing out books for Halloween. She would collect them all year from garage sales, thrift stores and book sales, and then have a basket of all different types of new or like-new books for kids to choose from. While I was always embarrassed, I was often surprised by how enthusiastic many kids were to get to choose a book.
- Organic lollipops: Yummy Earth lollipops are all natural, organic and free of most allergens. They’re also delicious! We order them in bulk from Amazon.com. Sign up for Subscribe and Save (where shipments are sent on a regular basis such as every 2 or 6 months) and you’ll get a discount and free shipping (you can easily cancel any time).
- Fruit leather: Here’s another healthier sweet treat that you can purchase inexpensively at Amazon.com. You can also buy fruit leather brands like Fruitabu for slightly more at local stores like Target in Mankato. Be sure to check the ingredients and purchase real fruit leather without added sugars, dyes and artificial ingredients.
- Homemade or recycled toys: If you have the time and energy, you can involve your kids in making some sweet natural toys to hand out, such as felt dolls, simple wood boats, small bags of different colors of homemade playdough, friendship bracelets and clothespin dolls. Offer an assortment to have the best chance of having something for kids of different ages and tastes. You can also just offer a basket of small toys gathered from local thrift stores or your family’s outgrown treasures that are still in great condition. Timeless toys that are always hits include Matchbox cars, bags of marbles, little dolls, Rubik’s Cubes and handheld games (all in great condition, of course).
- Juice boxes: While these aren’t usually the greenest option for everyday use, 100% juice boxes are miles ahead of most candies that kids will be collecting.
- Small bags of pretzels and other natural snacks: Other natural goodies include mini boxes of raisins and small bags of nuts or sunflower seeds. If handing out nuts, have a back-up option available for kids who are allergic.
- All natural and sustainable mini chocolate bars: While these usually cost more, you can feel good giving them out and they’re likely to be among the favorite treats received. Endangered Species chocolates cost about .50 each and are made of organic, fair trade chocolate that helps raise awareness about important environmental issues and raises money for endangered animals. They even come with collectible trading cards with each piece!
- Small organic and natural candies: Also check out local stores for individually wrapped organic candies and treats. In Mankato, try the natural section of Hy-Vee and Cub Foods, or travel to nearby St. Peter Natural Foods Coop.
What not to give: Many people recommend inexpensive plastic toys as an alternative to junky candy. While it’s great to look for other options besides chemical-laden and sugar-laden candies, it makes no sense to give away cheap plastic toys that will probably ultimately end up in the landfill by the end of the month (or week). Don’t waste the money or resources needed to give away items that kids aren’t going to actually enjoy and use.
Have a great, green Halloween!