Two years ago, Corey Colwell-Lipson, a Seattle-based mom of two daughters, ages seven and four, launched Green Halloween locally in her area. Her mission was simple: to make all holidays, starting with Halloween, better for kids and the planet, without sacrificing any fun. By partnering with sponsors such as Whole Foods Market, Colwell-Lipson offered healthy and earth-friendly alternatives to traditional treats and raised money for Treeswing, a nonprofit working to reverse childhood obesity. She also launched a website with a neighborhood map and provided a bounty of ideas for greening the holiday. The response, she says, was overwhelmingly positive, and this year the initiative is expanding nationwide.
Here, Colwell-Lipson talks about the inspiration behind Green Halloween and her hopes for its future.
What made you want to start the Green Halloween program?
I was trick-or-treating with my girls a few years ago, and some of the homes handed out non-candy items. I think they were stickers or bubbles. My girls and the other kids just got ecstatic over it—that it was something other than plain candy. I started wondering if we could make Halloween a little bit healthier. And if we could make it healthier, perhaps we could make it a little bit more earth-friendly.
How are your children involved in your mission?
My children are the inspiration for everything we’re doing. They’re at the root of it My older daughter is now seven. I run ideas past her, and she gives me the thumbs up. My younger one is just really on board with whatever Mommy does. I look to them to inspire me to continue even when things become challenging.
How do you suggest parents teach their children about making healthy and environmentally friendly choices?
I think it’s important to keep in mind where your child is developmentally and give them choices when it’s appropriate. Parents should also feel positive about the changes and make them fun. Saying, ‘Let’s put all our ideas on slips of paper and stick them in a fishbowl; this year, we’ll pick out three and give them a try!’ is better than ‘Okay, we all have to be healthy now,’ which just isn’t going to work.
What are your hopes for the future of Green Halloween?
My hope is that someday down the road, whether it’s in five years or ten years, healthier and more environmentally friendly choices will be integrated into the holiday—they’ll be woven into the fabric of our traditions.
What tip would you give parents interested in greening their Halloween celebrations?
One of my interests is breaking through what I call the ‘great green divide,’ which is the impression that you have to have money to be healthy and green. So if I had to pick one tip, it would be to reduce. We’ve gotten into a Halloween habit of giving children handfuls of candy at every door. If we went back to what we used to do, which is give one of something, whether it’s a treat or treasure, it’ll create less waste and less need for packaging. It’s better for the environment, better for our wallets, and better for our waistlines.
To learn more, check out greenhalloween.org.