(ARA) Halloween is the season of dress-up, make-believe and fun. Great preparation goes into buying costumes that transform young children, teens, college students and even adults into an array of characters including ghosts, goblins, witches, devils, superheroes and storybook characters. It's a time when it's okay to be something or someone other than yourself for a day.
This year, thrill seekers may want to consider Halloween alternatives to provide a new twist on an age-old event. During this season of green witches, slime and other spooky characters, going green for Halloween can extend the positive theme of protecting the environment, even during this season of dress-up and make-believe.
"Halloween is a perfect time to demonstrate commitment and concern for the environment," said Dr. Debra Huntley, program chair of the BA Psychology Program at the Argosy University Twin Cities Campus. "Protecting our environment is a year-round effort that is getting increasing attention from people from all age groups."
While the traditional ritual of trick or treat has its place, going green for Halloween is an opportunity to host a costume party and serve treats without food coloring or preservatives. Guests can enjoy healthier snacks like popcorn balls with salt and butter substitutes, or caramel apples and fudge with sugar substitutes. The host can serve juice drinks, flavored water and apple cider instead of sugary soft drinks that are loaded with calories and caffeine. By preparing treats, money and the environment are also protected by not using extra packaging and wrappers. And with fall harvests, it's a great time to shop at a local farmer's market for nutritious, local snacks. Buying locally is not only a healthy choice, but patronizes vendors nearby, as opposed to those that require resources to transport.
Going green for Halloween can also mean deciding not to drive that evening or identifying activities and events closer to home to reduce driving time and air pollutants from vehicles.
Dr. Huntley explained some youth or college-age groups may want to share the green Halloween spirit while lifting the spirits of senior living and nursing home residents. They can visit residents and share wholesome snacks, play music and lead a ghoulish and festive dance around the facility. In addition to enjoying the costumes, the residents can enjoy healthful snacks and the afternoon with friendly little ghosts and characters.
For those partaking in traditional trick or treat activities, Dr. Huntley encouraged everyone to remember it is important to maintain safety and caution to ensure this is a fun and safe experience for young trick or treaters. Children should be accompanied by a parent, guardian or responsible older sibling. Costumes should not be too tight or obscure vision. Children must be encouraged to cross streets carefully and always with a traffic light when present. Trick or treat in familiar neighborhoods, or at homes with whom you are acquainted. Many malls and shopping centers enjoy hosting trick or treaters as a fun community service initiative. Often schools help promote safety by encouraging teachers to let students trick or treat at various classrooms in the building. Some schools host a costume parade in the building or a fun assembly.
Whatever you decide, make this Halloween season a fun, safe, nutritious and tasty experience for all participants.