Halloween is right around the corner and as I am doing all our final preparations I thought I’d take a few minutes to put together my top tips to reducing your exposure to toxins while still having a "bewitching" good time.
There is something so magical and fun about Halloween’s spooky vibes, unique costumes, decor, and the makeup transformations. Even for becoming such a commercial holiday, October 31st is exceptionally fun. I still look forward to all the tricks and treats that come with Halloween. My three girls start planning out their costumes months in advance and every year beg me to make our annual Halloween theme breakfast.
As wonderful as Halloween is, there is a lot to be aware of when it comes to increased opportunities to being exposed to toxins. There are so many harmful toxins, particularly plastics, in the costumes and decorations and add to that the sugar overload that is nearly impossible to avoid. Halloween is such a wonderful holiday, my goal is always to maximize a less-toxic and safe day, while not taking away the fun. Here are my top six tips for a healthier Halloween:
1. Toxin Free Costumes
Costumes are a necessity for Halloween, and I love deciding with my girls what we’re going to dress up as each year. Unfortunately, most costumes and masks are designed cheaply (yet still expensive) and made to wear one or two times. Because of this, you will find that a lot of the costumes available on the market are made of PVC (vinyl), and therefore, contaminated with lead and phthalates, a family of chemicals that make plastic more flexible but also are linked to hormone disruption, cancer, respiratory problems and birth defects. In addition to looking for better materials like cotton, avoid any costumes with a tag indicating flame resistant as flame retardants are also linked to serious health risks.
But don't fret. You can look for costumes made from non-toxic materials such as paper or organic fabric, or you can take the creative route and make your own costumes. It may be a little more work, but it is a fun project to do with your kids as they make the costume as imaginative and individualized as they wish. Try checking out Sarah's Silks, Simplee Kids or Hanna Anderson (20% link for Hanna Anderson) plus pinterest.com and etsy.com to find inspiration.
If you do decide to wear a store-bought costume that contains PVC and/or flame retardants, focus on minimizing exposure to the toxins. After you purchase them, let them sit in open air for at least a day as they can off gas many of the toxins. Wear a layer of clothes under the costume and once your children are done trick-or-treating, change them out of their costume to reduce contact and bathe them. If you know the costume will never be worn again, consider donating it to remove the harmful PVCs from your closet and home.
2. Non-Toxic Face Paint
If your kids are anything like mine, they love to dive into your makeup drawer and also get all jazzed up with face paint. I can't say that I blame them because I even love to put on some fun glitter accents or get into the role of my costume. But that being said, try to choose makeup, face paint or glitter that is cleaner.
There is a misconception that it’s probably fine to use the cheap store bought face paint or glitter, especially if it is only for one night. However, these products contain many known carcinogens and other toxic chemicals that can generate unwanted health risks. An article published by Forbes elaborates that “Some of the worst ingredients such as formaldehyde, phthalates, parabens, dioxins, and other petroleum-derived products can cause a range of health issues from skin irritation to cancer. Additionally a report by The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics found traces of heavy metals such as lead, nickel, cobalt, and chromium contaminating the artificial color additives used in all the Halloween face paint brands they tested.”
I have experienced the wrath of face paint being left on my little ones faces and it isn’t pretty. So look for biodegradable glitter and simply pay attention to labels. Search for face or body paint that are free of parabens, formaldehyde, synthetic dyes, and other harmful chemicals. And products that use pigments from natural ingredients such as fruits, veggies, and flowers remove the risk of heavy mental contaminants found in artificial colorants. (link non-toxic face paints and glitter on amazon) And as a final suggestion use non-toxic wipes to remove the paint, or even sticky messes while walking around.
3. Real Pumpkins and Non-Toxic Decorations
Carving pumpkins is something everyone should do at least once (or several) times in their lives. It’s one of those activities that encourages patience and creativity while still being a ton of fun.
I urge everyone to make the choice to use real pumpkins, instead of plastic versions that you will eventually discard. Real pumpkins are truly natural and biodegradable, and are very versatile (have you ever roasted pumpkin seeds!). Other than those tricky plastic pumpkins, there are many other plastic Halloween decorations, including some Halloween lights, that are made from PVCs. Look for alternatives that use non-toxic materials, or create your own decorations from paper, fabric, wood, flowers or cardboard. (insert pumpkin carving or decorating kits on amazon)
4. Pre Trick-or-Treating Dinner
Your kids (and likely you) have been dreaming of the free and unlimited candy that will result from trick-or-treating. I think kids of all ages should be able to enjoy the tradition of collecting candy, but there are ways to reduce the amount of sugar actually consumed.
Before heading out, serve a healthy and filling dinner. The less hungry everyone is, the less candy everyone will ingest. You can set the mood for trick-or-treating by creating a Halloween themed dinner, and there are endless recipes for you to try.
5. Smaller, Re-Usable Trick-or-Treat Bags
It’s the moment everyone’s been waiting for. Costumes and bowls of treats are ready to go and it’s time to go out trick-or-treating. Here’s some tips to smooth out the activity.
Avoid plastic containers to collect candy, and avoid having your kids use large bags such as pillow cases to trick-or-treat. The reason being, in addition to disposable plastic materials being harmful to our health and the environment, using large bags to collect candy encourages larger quantities of candy coming home.
Purchasing or re-purposing a smaller reusable bag for your kids to use to collect their candy leads them to believe they scored more candy than they actually did. This minimizes the amount of sugar while still providing them with the satisfaction of filling up their bag.
Additionally, bring water and a flashlight with you while you are trick-or-treating for health and safety. Staying hydrated is very necessary for the sugar rush that is coming.
6. Check the Candy
Now even with a smaller and more contained amount of candy, that’s still a lot of sugar. It’s nearly impossible to eliminate sugar on Halloween, but there are a few more tricks you can try. Before eating any of the candy, make sure that none of the candy had been opened (by someone other than you or your child), and that none of the candy has expired.
If you want to minimize the amount of candy your child keeps, try offering a “buy back”. Your kids can receive an activity or reward in payment of candy.
To remove the temptation from your home, consider donating the excess candy. Many dentist offices do trade in programs or you can combine with neighbors or a classroom to send to troops over seas. You can also opt to put it away to use for a future birthday party piñata.
Remember that after all of that candy, everyone could use a little extra water and attention to dental hygiene.
Halloween is all about having fun and there are so many creative, healthy and environmentally savvy options to make Halloween safer, healthier and just as much fun. Embrace Halloween as the spooky yet spectacular holiday that it is. Happy treating!
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DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor and the statements on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA. Any products or techniques mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am just a mom who shares what works for me!