October certainly is one of my favorite months. After all, witches and Halloween, often go hand in hand. It’s always fun to fly around and look at everyone’s costumes— which is entertaining all year actually– but especially so on the 31st. I am always pleasantly stunned by the reverie that unfolds during this holiday with all the wild parades and parties, scary movies and ‘haunted houses’ to visit. Evidently there must be something therapeutic in a communal frightening, which keeps us yearning for more.
Looking back on my life, I remember the excitement of designing a great costume as a child. Then Mom would sew and glue something spectacular out of old clothes, spare fabric and whatever else was about the house, from tinfoil to tissue paper. I’ll never forget “trick-or-treating” through the neighborhood till our modest 8pm curfew (…it was a different time). Upon returning home, I had to pour all the confectionary bounty out on the table for my parents to inspect and divide. They would separate everything into two piles: ‘acceptable’ and ‘don’t even think about it’. From this point, we could indulge in the good candy while watching the other batch descend into the garbage. As an adult, it is funny to me how often that same dichotomy would come into play throughout life.
In retrospect, I now realize that my parents were motivated by fear. They were frightened of three things: (1) the potential danger of that bad pile (2) the naiveté of us as children accepting whatever we were handed, and (3) the possibility of being harmed from the careless actions of strangers. Here we are nearly 20 years later, and I find myself doing the same things—fearing for the safety of the community, questioning my own ignorance, and worrying about the danger of irresponsible humans.
Now don’t get me wrong…BeachWitch loves a good fright from time to time, as much as the next person. Sadly, however, the holiday has brought with it some truly terrifying things, and most of it begins with plastic! Nowadays, instead of fashioning a costume from scraps around the home, kids and adults of all ages are bombarded with an extensive array of plastic costumes and questionable makeup, loaded with toxic dyes and other dubious ingredients. It would be one thing if these costumes were reusable, but often are headed to the trash from wear and tear from only a single day of use. It is difficult to even comprehend that little over 60 years ago, plastic was but a new invention. The fact that it has become embedded in our daily lives, in such a short period of time, is actually quite creepy.
Everyone, whom reads this column, knows of my disdain for all things plastic. Hence, it is especially difficult to see my beloved holiday, nearly completely dominated by plastic fashions and polyurethane accoutrements. Gone are the days of using an old pillowcase to gather our treats, replaced by a plastic pumpkin or bucket instead. Cosmetics, included within costume kits, often contain high levels of lead (that’s right, lead!) and cadmium, amongst a host of other heavy metals. These substances are often banned from children’s toys, but not in these ‘novelty’ items. Fabric has been replaced with PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) often called the ‘poison plastic’ because of its volatile make-up. Along with Phthalates (used to stiffen plastic), these chemicals can often ‘off-gas’ into the atmosphere and have been known to disrupt the endocrine systems in children. If I had the choice, anything that was this destructive to our planet and harmful to our bodies, would be banished to the ‘don’t even think about it’ pile. There are plenty of ‘acceptable’ products to use and a multitude of eco-friendly options to choose from instead, that are far less detrimental to us all.
When we add up all the disposable packaging, the carbon footprint of the manufacturing and distribution, and the ultimate net waste of a one-time-use costume destined for the trash, the sum total of the situation becomes an actual horror. Most of this plastic cannot be recycled and is likely to end up in a landfill where it will take hundreds of years to decompose as it leaks harmful compounds into our Earth. Watching our children and the planet placed in jeopardy, is quite enough to scare this Witch out of my wits. To me, these things are far more frightening, than any spook, specter, or goblin could ever be.
This year, I encourage you to return to some of the harmless ways we used to celebrate Halloween. There are also plenty of safe new holiday offerings now available in our burgeoning ‘green’ marketplace.
For some great eco-friendly Halloween ideas visit our Pinterest page at www.pinterest.com/BeachWitchMagic, or simply Google ‘Green Halloween’ for tons of tips, ideas and sustainable holiday suggestions. Perhaps together, we can haunt some plastic this season and scare it out of our purchases. Let’s make it a Happy HallowGreen this year, and in those to come! —Regards, from BeachWitch For more ‘Green Magic’ visit us at www.BeachWitch.Com or send your tips, events, or anything else EcoFriendly to info@BeachWitch.Com. BeachWitch is the EcoFriendly Concierge TM of Miami delivering the best of South Beach to you!
The Sustainable Business Council of the MB Chamber of Commerce meets once a month from 8:30-10 am within the chamber offices at 1920 Meridian Ave. This committee actively works to improve our community’s quality of life by promoting actions that protect our environment and support sustainable long-term growth. If you or your business is passionate about the environment, the council would love to hear from you. For more information contact the MB Chamber at 305- 674-1300 and get involved today!