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Halloween eco-friendly trick or treat bags--Fun way to raise your child's awareness about plastic pollution

Updated on October 2, 2014
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An environmental enthusiast and activist her entire adult life, Kathryn shares her secrets to reducing waste and living greener.

Chicobag easy-stuff-and-store Jack-O-Lantern Halloween bag
Chicobag easy-stuff-and-store Jack-O-Lantern Halloween bag | Source

Halloween is a fun time to teach our tykes a little about the 3Rs--Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Children really get into learning about the planet and ways we can protect it for future generations, their own included.

Gathering their treats in their very own, colorful, ghostly, ghoulish reusable bag is a good way to get them started.

In a short while, brightly colored orange Jack-O-Lanterns will pop up at the ends of aisles in our grocery and sundries stores. If your kids are like my grandchildren, the moment they see them, they will turn their little faces up to yours at just the most disarming angle, and with wide beseeching eyes, ask for the Jack-O-Lantern.

"But I want it, and all the other little kids have one when they go trick or treating!"

You don't have to cave! This is the perfect moment to talk about plastics and their impact on the environment. Children understand when we tell them about all the plastic choking our riverbanks, beaches and oceans. They especially understand when we share, with gentleness and care, how harmful those plastics can be to the wildlife who take their living in and near the water.

Once they understand this, children want to do something to help. This is when you introduce reusable bags they can enjoy year after year, and that are just as colorful and fun as the plastic Jack-O-lanterns--something to look forward to each Halloween, just as they look forward to getting out the spiders and gauzy webbing.

Weigh in with this quick poll

Are you interested in making your Halloween a little greener this year?

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Questions to ask your children when talking about plastic pumpkins

When discussing the reasons you want to cut back on plastic containers with your child, keep it simple. Ask them some simple questions and listen closely to their answers. You might want to write down their answers.

Don't be surprised to discover the children in your life asking you these questions before you get a chance to pose them. Many kids today are savvy about plastic pollution. Either way, be prepared with straightforward and simple answers to the following questions.

  1. Where do our plastic pumpkins come from? Answer: They come from oil--black sticky stuff buried deep in the ground. Oil companies pump the oil from the ground and use it to make things we use every day. Some of it is used to make gasoline to power our cars. Some is used to make plastic. Every plastic pumpkin, every plastic wrapper around candy, and every glow stick comes from oil.
  2. Why do we need to use less plastic? Answer: Lots of reasons. One is that we are running out of oil. Another is that, when we make plastic from oil, we put poisons into the air that we breathe and into the water that we drink. Those poisons make people sick. A third reason is that plastic never goes away. It breaks down, into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic. Some pieces are so small that we cannot see them, but we can breathe them. They get into our food, and we eat them. Scientists believe that all those plastic particles are making people sick, but they need to do more studies to understand how and why.
  3. Can't we recycle our plastic pumpkins? Answer: That depends. If the pumpkins are made of certain types of plastic, yes they can be recycled. Others have to go to the landfill, where they break down and contaminate ground water and sometimes our drinking water.
  4. Can we burn the plastic pumpkins, if we can't recycle them or throw them away? Answer: Burning plastic releases even more poison into the air and can make people very ill.


Jack-O-Lantern or friendly bat?

I'm always looking for Fair Trade and organic products that are as fun as any of the cheap plastic objects the stores offer us.

For now, these polyester Chico bags are as close as I can get. The good news is, they last practically forever, wash easily, never seem to fade, and tuck away into their attached stuff-bags in seconds.


Which do you prefer?

I can't decide if I like the big orange Jack-O-Lantern or the bat bag better. Which is your favorite?

I think I need one of each. Or rather two, since I have four grandchildren.

You?

Decorate a few trick or treat bags with your children as simply as this one, or as elaborate as they like
Decorate a few trick or treat bags with your children as simply as this one, or as elaborate as they like | Source

Even greener alternatives

Of course, you could send your darlings out with a large paper bag, like I used to carry as a child. Long as I came home with a pile of candy, I was happy.

If you're crafty, plan an afternoon of creative fun with the kids to make their own Trick-or-Treat bags. Here are just three delightful sources to get you started.

  1. My sister Hubber, Lorraine Brummer provides a charming step-by-step how-to for making Trick-or-Treat bags from plain brown paper sacks. She includes lots of yummy recipes for homemade treats to fill them--perfect if you're giving treats to children whose parents know and trust you.
  2. For more fun, ghoulish, fancy, silly and whacky homemade trick or treat bags and buckets using materials around the house, check out Trick or Treat! 15 Bag and Bucket Ideas on Parents.com.
  3. Who better than Martha Stewart to show us the cutest, cleverest and, most importantly for safety, glow-in-the-dark homemade trick or treat bags?

Just get me through the night, please!

Not the crafty type? Fall schedule way too pinched to add one more thing?

If you're like so many parents, you may be looking for the quickest ways to get through the holiday with maximum fun and least fuss. You need an alternative.

Easy! Grab a few Halloween-themed reusable bags for your little ones. Not only do they look just as much fun on their arms as a plastic Jack-O-lantern, they are light-weight, much easier to carry, and possibly even more fun to show off than a plastic bucket.

Laundering is a cinch. Just throw 'em in the washing machine when all the sticky candy is gone and hang them up to dry for an hour or so. shove them in their self-stuffing sacks and hide away with the witches hats and broomsticks until next year.



Frankenstein monster stuffed back into his attached pocket, all tied up till next Halloween
Frankenstein monster stuffed back into his attached pocket, all tied up till next Halloween | Source

It's so easy to fold these little guys away

While the bags are as big or bigger than the typical plastic supermarket grocery bag, they stuff down into a palm-size cushion you can carry around on a key chain.

After Halloween, fold each of the bags away into its tiny self-contained sack and toss them into the Halloween decorations box. Forget about them until next year, when they'll be as clean and new looking as they were when you tucked them into their self-stuffing sacks.

How many of us will participate in the retail Halloween frenzy this year?


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A greener Halloween can make a difference

Do we really need all that orange and black plastic? How will you and your family celebrate Halloween this year? Are you planning to make it a little greener? What do you think of starting with environmentally friendly trick-or-treat bags?

© 2014 Kathryn Grace

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    • ecogranny profile image
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      Kathryn Grace 15 months ago from San Francisco

      That's really cool! I apologize for not responding sooner, but I only just now discovered this comment in my HubPages spam folder. But it is so cool that you use Halloween as an opportunity to educate people about Fair Trade candy. I'd like to hear more about that.

    • profile image

      Orquestra 2 years ago

      Not sure yet what I'll be, which is cutting it close (I'm open to ideas)I'll be roickng some Reverse Trick-or-Treating with Engineers Without Borders, which means knocking on people's doors and giving THEM fair-trade candy, while discussing the benefits of fair trade to small-scale farmers in the developing world! Anyone is invited to join at 4pm in CEME building design studio Saturday.

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @Besarien, thank you! What a clever idea, to make Halloween gift bags the children can reuse each year. Yours must be the coolest Halloween house in the neighborhood.

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 2 years ago

      Cute hub! The bags are very cute and so practical. I was thinking of making some with some reflective material for extra safety and handing them out to the little ones with a hand full of candy in them next year. We only get maybe 10 kids at the door total unless we are having the party here. Even as slow as I sew I should be able to get that done before next Halloween. Very inspiring ideas you have!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @Sylvestermouse, thank you! That's exactly what I hoped to convey.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 2 years ago from United States

      Excellent ideas and suggestions for turning a really fun night into an opportunity for educating our children on being eco-friendly. They will never even realize they are being taught something :)

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      @Erin Mellor, thank you.

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 2 years ago from Europe

      Those bags are really cute as well as practical, I can see them being handed down through the family and being a little tradition all of their own.