Time to Start Thinking About A Fair Trade Halloween.

My niece Baby K is the cutest octopus in the world. Not sure if she'll wear this or something else for Halloween, but I couldn't pass it up at the resale boutique!

It’s that time of year…Halloween stuff is appearing at the stores everywhere! We love Halloween and usually celebrate with homemade costumes, a church carnival, and a block or two of trick-or-treat. This year I thought about making Midge a costume but found an adorable one at our local resale children’s boutique instead (for $10!) Jake will be using last year’s Jedi costume with the addition of a black panel and glowing eyes to turn himself from Jedi to Jawa. So with those two taken care of (and Greg will wear one of the six Jedi costumes I made last year!) I decided to make Tyler the Ewok costume he’s been hoping for.

So I have a month to get that costume made, but in the meantime, my mind turns to treats. I have trouble buying chocolate. The least expensive way is to head to Target or the grocery store and pick up a few bags of whatever is on sale. Our neighborhood is FULL of trick-or-treaters so we have to be prepared for hundreds of kids. The problem is, chocolate (along with coffee) is one of the worst products in the world for ethical work standards. It is common for workers to be exploited and not earn a fair wage in the cocoa or coffee fields, and child exploitation in those markets is rampant around the world.

Green America says it this way: “According to the United Nation’s Children’s Fund, 200,000 children in West Africa work under forced labor conditions on cocoa farms. The US government is currently being sued by the International Labor Rights Fund for failing to enforce laws prohibiting the import of products made with child labor, and the chocolate industry has blown by numerous deadlines set in negotiations with Congress for self-regulations.”

I love a little nip of dark chocolate after dinner (or lunch, or even breakfast…let’s be honest!) so I’ve taken to buying Trader Joe’s Fair Trade chocolate bars when I check out. Easy, cheap, quick solution that makes me feel good about where my money goes. Fair trade chocolate for baking isn’t too difficult to find, but individually wrapped chocolates for gifting is another matter. So I began an internet search. The best options I found were some chocolate earth balls, chocolate hearts, and chocolate coins. But even those were a little too painful for my tightwad heart.

What about making my own treats, I wondered? I have time to make popcorn balls or something for everyone, right? But then I realized that even with a lot of time, I don’t want to make something that will get dumped when the parents go through the haul on Halloween night. And even I usually cull out all of the non-packaged treats when the boys get home. I think the idea of evil characters masquerading as neighbors handing out unpackaged candy was somehow ingrained in my head as a child. I mentally realize that this ridiculous idea is on par with thinking that there’s a kidnapper in every city waiting to nab my child. However, with Tyler’s nut allergy, we just can’t eat homemade treats anyway. And the thought of going to the trouble to make hundreds of treats that might be thrown out is just too much for me.

To recap, here are the three problems: I don’t want to support the oppression of the poor and their children around the world. I am cheap. I am too lazy to make treats (that will likely be thrown out.)

Solution: Lollipops! Fair trade lollipops are the answer. There’s a special right now on this website for 5 lbs. of lollipops that I plan on buying for Halloween. Free shipping, too. Honestly, even if I bought regular lollipops, I’d be happier about my choice than I would be by picking up the usual bags of chocolate based candy at Target. If you’re determined to get chocolate, here’s a good link to a list of slave-free chocolate companies. And you know that there are always the non-sweet options for Halloween. Packages of pretzels in Halloween shapes, or even pencils from Oriental Trading Company, if you want to be known as “that” house on the Halloween night.

As for the deluge of candy, we decided a few years ago that toys were better than candy at our house. So when they bring home their candy, the boys eat as much as they can, then pick out 20ish pieces that they love, and leave the rest for “The Great Pumpkin” who whisks away the extra candy during the night and leaves little toys in its place! I have a feeling that Bionicles will be arriving on the morning of November first!

Now if only I could do something about my serious obsession with Reese’s Peanut Butter cups…we confiscate all of them on Halloween night due to Tyler’s peanut allergy, but here’s my confession: We tell the kids that we get rid of them, but I really hide them in the back of the baking cabinet where nobody can reach them and then eat them slowly for months afterwards. Yes, I am a terrible mother. And a lier. But at least I’m not supporting child slavery…will you give me that much?

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6 thoughts on “Time to Start Thinking About A Fair Trade Halloween.

  1. This is a topic I’ve been discussing with others — the need to make Halloween a fair trade holiday. How on earth can we have our kids go out to “have fun” at the expense of children (and probably adults) in other countries being used as slaves? We would be appalled by the idea of having slaves in our own country now, but if we can’t see them … somehow it’s ok? Of course not. But most of us don’t realize what we’re supporting. Thanks for the post.

  2. Another suggestion for non-chocolate treats for Halloween that are still “cool”: unfrozen otter pops (or similar) popsicles. My daughters were each given one last year at Halloween are were SO. EXCITED. to come home and freeze it for a treat the following day. And I thought the idea was pretty ingenious– A huge box is relatively inexpensive.

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