A Greener Jack o’ Lantern
There are many ways to have a green Halloween, from making your own eco-friendly decorations to handing out fair-trade Endangered Species chocolates to your neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Here are three steps to greening your Halloween Jack o’ Lantern.
3 Steps to a Green Jack o’ Lantern
1. Buy a locally-grown pumpkin. Just like with the food we eat, buying locally-grown pumpkins supports the local economy and the environment, especially if you can find an organic pumpkin patch. Many small family farmers depend on their Halloween pumpkin patch festivities to supplement their normal farm income. Some farms have rather over-the-top festivals with rides, bouncy pumpkins, corn mazes and more, which are of course great for entertaining your kids, too. Remember to buy extra, smaller pumpkins for eating (see step 3).
2. Use non-toxic soy or beeswax candles. Parrafin wax, which most candles are now made from, is derived from petroleum and emits carcinogens when burned — producing some of the same toxins as burning diesel fuel (contributing to indoor air pollution), while the artificial fragrances can irritate asthma and allergies. Soy candles are cleaner burning and often use natural fragrances if any, while old-fashioned beeswax candles are the purist choice and are also clean-burning and drip-free. I found beeswax votives and tea lights at a local home goods store, Bungalow. The Big Green Purse has links to a few other places to find soy or beeswax candles.
3. Eat your pumpkins! Many farmers sell smaller sugar pumpkins, or other varieties, which are ideal for cooking. The green pumpkin pictured above is a Cushaw pumpkin, a traditional pie variety. Large carving pumpkins have rather tough meat, but of course you can still roast the seeds. To make your own pumpkin puree, bake the whole pumpkin at 350 degrees for 90 minutes. Allow it to cool, then peel, remove the goop (reserving the seeds for roasting), and mash or blend the pulp until smooth. You can freeze the pulp for later use, and simply use it in your favorite recipes in place of canned pumpkin. (Avoiding that BPA-lining in canned foods.)
For more ideas, visit Green Halloween, Nature Moms‘ Eco-Friendly Halloween, or Green Me’s list of HFCS-free Halloween treats. And if you really want to shock your friends, check out these anti-environment costume ideas.