First up: Halloween.
What to Give: This is by far one of my favorite holidays. I love the costumes, pumpkin carving and the official onset of Fall (my favorite season). I think the biggest challenge this year is what to give for trick-or-treating when you are striving for a Zero Waste home. In the past, I have given mini Play-Doh isntead of candy, but now I am trying to steer clear of plastics, if possible. So, this year I decided to go with Halloween-themed decorated fruit. First, this is going to be a fun art project for my daughter and me decorating these things. Second, it's a healthy, yet tasty treat. And finally, it's Zero Waste! No packaging and peels are compostable. If kids aren't interested, they can simply say "no thank you," which means I am not giving someone something they don't want = no waste. I am sure many of you are thinking this is lame as it is not as exciting as a Tootsy Roll, but to me it makes a lot of sense. And I have to think there are other parents out there that would be happy to have their kids get something guilt-free.
What You Get: I haven't gone so far as to not let my kids trick-or-treat. But we make a deal: In exchange for giving away the candy they collect I let them pick out an assortment of bulk bin candy that they can keep in their own jar to have in the future (in small quantities here and there). This way, they still get to have the exciting delicious candy, but I have the peace of mind that they are choosing waste free items that don't include artificial ingredients, preservatives and other toxins. You would be amazed at the selection of candies in bulk bins these days (candy drops (i.e., M&M equivalents), jelly beans, gummy bears, toffee, chocolate and yogurt covered you-name-it, etc.) but without all the artificial ingredients. My 2-year-old knows where the candy section is in our pantry and hits me up just about every day for a jelly bean or 2.
Costumes: This is, in my opinion, the least restrictive in terms of the effort to be zero waste. You can still get a new costume, but consider getting one second hand (like a family hand me down) or as part of a costume exchange before getting a new one. And if you do get a new one, make sure you save to hand down to someone else or donate. In LA, many of the farmers markets have costume exchanges. Don't hesitate to check them out. It's also a great money saver! Another option is to rent a costume.
Decorations: Get things that you can use over and over, year after year, as opposed to single use items. And try to find fun ways to incorporate compostable items into your decor, like pumpkins, corn stalks, paper, cardboard and hay. Also, choose things that you can use for more than one holiday.
Pumpkins: Last, but not least, don't forget to compost those jack-o-lanterns (which means your green bin Angelinos)!