IWM: Lisa Borden, Halloween Edition

There is so much about Halloween that terrifies me. Genetically modified foods, toxic face paint, and insane piles of garbage, to start. I have always shared my real, honest opinions and struggles to honour the fun of the holiday for my kids and community, while maintaining my values, and hopefully showing someone else that Halloween can be both fun AND kind, to our health, and to our world. I share openly because I believe people will make healthier choices if solutions are easy and accessible. So, with hope that this may inspire another family to make healthy Halloween change, I’m sharing some of my responses to a few of the questions I get asked most about Halloween.

So, what exactly does your family do to celebrate Halloween?

We always reduce waste as much as possible and avoid processed sugar, genetically modified ingredients and other toxic ingredients by enjoying tons of “real food” treats at home together before going out to REVERSE trick or treat, although only one of my three kids still trick-or-treats at this point. The kids would always be so giddy from eating so much cake, or ice cream (all vegan and organic), and they would leave the house for Halloween already full and happy. We do give out treats, contrary to what many think, they’re just made with clean, allergy-friendly, organic ingredients. Instead of going door to door and taking candy, my kids GIVE a piece of organic, fair-trade (and nut-free!) candy or chocolate. Because there were questions and confusion/surprise about what they were doing, the kids have found it helpful to hand people an explanation. It’s a friendly explanation, only a couple sentences to explain our motivation, and we hope that those that receive the message might come to realize that there are many alternatives and join us next year in Reverse Trick or Treating, or simply purchase and share safer, healthier choices in the future – for holidays and all days. We celebrate with our community but like to stick to how we live, and share what we have learned with smiles!

Where did you get the idea to ‘reverse trick or treat’? 

I learned about Reverse Trick or Treating online through Global Exchange and Camino in 2009, and immediately wrote about it to share widely, and introduced the concept to my kids, who loved the idea also.

Why are child-labor-free, fair-trade, eco-friendly Halloween goods important?

Not all chocolate is created equal! Unfortunately, sometimes, geography and our culture today has us so removed from where our purchases originate that people either really do not know, or choose to not know. I personally believe that it’s important to trace back all purchases – from food to furniture – and understand their true value, who made them, what we are going to do with it, and where it goes afterwards. Making the healthiest decisions for us and our collective world, and those in it, should be imperative, not optional.

The inspiration for Reverse Trick-or-Treating rests on the belief that the simple act of one person saying to another “There’s a problem. There’s a solution. Let’s do something” can be very powerful. And if a child says this to an adult – it’s doubly powerful. Further, Equal Exchange, creator of this original program, believes that such acts will demonstrate to the large corporations, and to public officials, that people are paying attention, people care, and they want action.

How do your kids feel about your healthy Halloween traditions?

We’ve been doing this for years, and the kids always enjoyed it by carving pumpkins, eating treats and running through the neighbourhood with their friends. But, we feel the same as always – sometimes depressed at how big the problems are, but always empowered that as little people, we can still affect change, even if on a small scale. It all adds up.

How can others celebrate a healthier Halloween too? 

Just have an open mind, be kind, and the source and share better treats in your community/city/country.

Tips, reasons and resources:

Our Halloween Roundup

Better Halloween Treats

The Teal Pumpkin Project