Halloween preparations are in full swing in our house. But I have a confession to make -- I force a stiff smile when my kids squeal in excitement about the trick or treating. Because if there's anything that raises my Mommy hackles, it's Halloween. And now, Halloween just got a little scarier...
A study released this week by HealthyStuff.org found toxic chemicals in popular Halloween costumes, accessories and party supplies. 106 Halloween products from CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens were tested for toxics -- and many were found to contain phthalates, flame retardants, vinyl (PVC) plastic, organotins, and lead.
These chemicals are linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer.
When I look around, I see mountains of plastic Halloween swag piled in stores, draped on unsuspecting yard shrubs, and functioning as costumes for my kids. Almost all of it seems related to, produced from, or in the interest of wasting some variety of petroleum product. That's bad enough -- is this what we're drilling and fracking and transporting all that climate pollution for? And it's just the beginning.
In past years, my son wore face paint to perfect his vampire look; did it contain lead? The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that most face paints do. Lead is a neurotoxin. Okay, that's scary.
The excess of it all is the point, I know, but it sometimes feels like Halloween's function is to desensitize us to the problems of all this overconsumption, just in time for the Christmas season to begin to stir. It makes us numb.
What's a Mom to Do?
I know there are ways to green up my Halloween. And I salute all y'all offering ideas. I've got another idea for greening Halloween: Don't get numb, get active.
Toxic chemicals in our children's bodies are not okay, whether they come from our food, our toys, our water, or our air. Our businesses need to take seriously the health of our children. And until they do -- actually, because they won't without being forced to, as we've learned time after time -- we need to ask our government to do more to keep our children safe.
As for my day-of strategy, I am going to try to stay calm. Deep breathing is good. And wine is a nice thing to have on Halloween, don't you think? I might even put on my witch's hat so I can grimace and scowl with impunity. Happy haunting.