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Candy Alternatives and Safe Trick or Treatin'

Halloween is right around the corner. And, while we love Spooky Season, handing out a grip of candy that is laden with artificial ingredients, food dyes, and refined sugars to our neighborhood kiddos isn’t at the top of our list.  Keeping low waste choices in mind is tricky to do with Halloween treats too, especially if they’re consumables.  Individually packaged treats often create a lot of waste, but it does have obvious advantages where safety is concerned.  We’d also be woefully remiss if we didn’t also acknowledge that trick or treating in the age of Covid just can’t be what it used to be.    

So, how can we still make the occasion festive, fun for the kiddos, sugar coma avoidant, low waste, and most importantly safe?  If you and the gang are headed out to trick or treat, please please please wear masks, encourage kiddos to take their turn and approach houses individually so as to maintain social distancing where possible, and keep gatherings small, and outdoors wherever possible.  Also, don’t forget that hand sanitizer, and to make sure kiddos properly wash their paws before digging into their loot. 

If you’re planning on accommodating trick or treaters, consider leaving your treats at the end of your front walkway, on the porch, or set out in a way that you don’t have to physically answer the door, thus risking unnecessary exposure between neighbors.  Maybe set out hand sanitizer, too.  Keep the safety of the community front of mind, first and foremost.  This pandemic ain’t over yet, y’all. We have to look out for one another!

Now, onto candy.  Or rather, what can you offer the wee ones that isn’t candy. There are plenty of things to offer the spooky little spirits that come visit that won’t give them a sugar crash.  Consider a few of the following:

Fruit Leathers or Organic Fruit snacks: Assuming you read the ingredient labels and feel okay about it, consider putting out fruit leathers or fruit snacks. While this doesn’t necessarily mean less packaging waste, it is at least marginally more nutritious than candy.  Cardboard juice boxes are also a good option, because while they still contain sugar, they will help hydrate the trick or treaters, and offer an alternative to more sugary beverages, like soda.

Books or Coloring Books: An option that isn’t a consumable, and will inspire kiddos to read or be creative!  If you were gonna spend money on candy anyway, why not spend a comparable amount on something that nurtures their brains?  Affordable options exist everywhere, from discount stores, neighborhood free libraries, to library sales, to craft stores.  If you’re willing to look, miniature options exist too!  Yay for books!

Bouncy Balls or Small Puzzles: Again, perhaps not on the forefront of low waste, but a great way to offer tricks and treats that aren’t consumable and inspire some festive fun.  And let's be honest, it is pretty fun to take a bouncy ball, and bounce it as hard as possible to see how it ricochets around whatever space surrounds it. (Much to the chagrin of some less fun adults.)  Puzzles are also another wonderful way to encourage critical thinking in dosages.  Little travel size puzzles exist, and so do puzzle balls, boxes, etc. Bonus points if these things are made from compostable or renewable materials like wood or cardboard.

Honey Sticks: Honey Sticks are a wonderful offering! Or even local, individually wrapped caramels! While these are still sweets, they aren’t the over processed, artificial ingredient packed option that often fill most Halloween treat bowls.  

Wooden Glider Airplanes: While these babies still contain some plastic parts, they’re mostly made with wood, a rubber band, and some metal.  Encourage the kids to find places on their trick or treating journey that would be great places to test out their planes! Depending on where you look, too, little glider planes are affordable.

Origami Paper with easy to follow instructions: Kids get the experience of choosing which color or pattern they like best, or what it will turn into when they finish folding.  You can also print out or write out easy to follow directions for most folds, which they’ll be able to take on if they’re old enough, or with the help of a parent when everyone is cozied up back indoors after their neighborhood excursion.

It doesn’t stop there, folks. Get creative. It could be little oranges with jack o lantern faces drawn on. It could be tiny pumpkins that you also draw or paint faces on.  Bubbles, keychains, mini play doughs (homemade or store bought) are also great alternatives to dishing out candy this year.  If nothing else, leave out a note of encouragement and shared enthusiasm for the festivities.

Depending on your safety concerns, time, budget, low waste aspirations, etc--trick or treating will likely look different this year than it has in years past, and that’s okay.  Traditions exist for nostalgia, but new ones can be forged at any time. Make new memories, and have fun doing it!  No matter what y’all decide to do, please try to keep the safety of your community front of mind.  Happy Spooky Season, one and all!

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