Where Toxins Can Lurk (Beware of Toxic Halloween)

What you don’t know can hurt you: a “better safe than sorry”-reminder post about toxins – for parents, for pet owners, for Halloween fans. {30 Days of Halloween Series} 


If you think this is going to be a comprehensive list of potentially harmful objects, let me start off with a disappointment:
It is not.
This is my mantra on BEAUTYCALYPSE: never make lists.

Lists can get outdated the moment you hit “publish”, so what I attempt at doing is reminding you and myself, the consumers, to think before we buy.
I also want to inspire brands and retailers to green it up, because sustainability is not just a chapter in the annual report or a marketing fad, though yes, some treat it that way, and it’s not about saving the planet or the animals, dudes – it all ends up on your plate, too. Trust me on that.

Okay, now that we’re through with the foreword of doom… 😉
Let’s get started for Halloween celebrations and wag our fingers at some of the worst offenders that I personally avoid because they are not eerie, nor spooky, just plain horrifying.

Toxins & Co. in Halloween Products for Kids

#1 Health Hazards in Face Paint

Heavy metals, allergens and toxins keep being found in face paints in the US and Europe.
It gets as bad as containing lead, a neurotoxin, as well as nickel, cobalt and chromium.

Tip: it’s not a good idea either to use watercolours, acrylic, craft colours, glitter, or markers on your skin.
Their packaging might say “toxic free” or “safe” – but it means only that it’s safe to paint with them. Like, on paper.

These Make Us Dumb & Sick

Also: don’t forget about your kids’ individual allergies and sensitivities.
Don’t attempt patch testing with kids – today, more and more dermatologists hold the view that those are not accurate and also can actually start a sensitivity.

#2 Dangerous costumes and masks

Another source of highly hazardous toxins – costumes and masks!
Mostly due to the use of PVC, sadly an ubiquitous material.
PVC is known for releasing phthalates (endocrine disruptors; release further toxins), vinyl chloride (mutagenic), tributylin hydride (highly toxic; endocrine disruptor).

Tip: obviously, the very same toxins lurk in costumes and masks for adults as well. 

Costumes and masks can also contain other (neuro)toxic stuff and the highly allergenic azo dyes.

Welcome to The Toxic Wasteland!

#3 Candy: artificially coloured, sweetened and flavoured, excess sugar, excess fat

Now I don’t have kids, but aside from the green side of the story, I don’t think I would allow my theoretical offspring go trick-and-treating on their own as it can go all kinds of wrong. I think I’d host a party with the kids’ friends and their parents instead – sounds like time well invested.

But if you do have kids and they want to go, here are a few things to consider in the true spirit of Hallogreen:

1. Give your kid(s) something reusable and non-plastic for collecting the sweets like maybe an inexpensive pillowcase or a sturdy paper bag that you’ve decorated together; stay away from throwaway or plastic bags.

2. Make loot screening part of the game, like searching for real treasures aka the healthier and safer snacks in the abundance of stuff choked full with synthetic additives (colourings, preservatives, excess sugars, excess/ trans fats, emulsifiers, stabilisers – you get the idea); explain to the little one what ‘baddies’ to look for.

Again, don’t forget individual sensitivities and allergies.
The earlier the kids start understanding why it’s good and how to read labels, the better!

3. If you’ve got to buy sweets for neighbourhood kids, don’t think you’ll make them happy with your expensive vegan FairTrade chocolate, or healthy organic apples, or fat-and-sugar-free granola bars: that’s not what they’re after.

While it’s the parents’ exclusive 24/7 job to monitor what they kids are allowed to eat, you could still make this job much easier by choosing less crap-filled sweets. Get cleaner & greener healthier sweets, and those are not too shabby these days.
Take for example Katjes gelatin-free, naturally coloured fruitgum (Germany), or Justin’s rainforest-friendly peanut butter cups (USA).

Tip: maybe you can think of a local, small-scale producer you would love to support – they are often quite modern and health-oriented in terms of free-from ingredients and manufacturing processes!

Q: But hey, what about home-made “green” alternatives?”

A: DIY treats for your friends and guests are soooo awesome.
However, handing out home-made treats to folks at your doorstep is an awful idea.

People who don’t know you (and your award-winning cookies) might just throw them away, and quite rightly so, because: home-made stuff from strangers, dude!”

Home Decoration Hazards

#1 Toxic Wasteland Once Again

Toxic and unnecessary – throw-away plastics in decoration.
So you’ve given up mass-market scrubs with microbeads… maybe don’t queue for your ocean-friend’s halo yet.

Plastic pumpkins and other synthetic decoration items as well as candy wraps and any plastic throwaways constantly – and massively – add up to the litter pile in our oceans. And don’t trick yourself with “I don’t eat fish”. You probably drink water or, heavens forbid, beer? Maybe you eat honey? Well, here’s the news: microplastics are found everywhere now, in our drinking water, in honey, even in German beer, the epitome of clean and pure.

Q: So no decorations, then?”

A: Said no one ever! Just stick with plastic-, synthetic- and PVC-free stuff: paper, cardboard, wood, fabric and ribbon to turn your home into a haunted mansion; apples, pumpkins, gourds and Co. to pile up in glorious bowls.
Fill glass bottles and jars with delish, colour-coordinated treats and label them frighteningly, then make eerie, wicked witch centrepieces!
If you stick to a colour theme for decorations and menu (white/ grey for ghosts; blue and green for zombies; black and green for wizardry; black and white for vamps; or maybe go for the signature Halloween orange), the natural colours will create a fantastic effect.”

#2 The Unknown Dimension of Craft Supplies

All that glues and glitters is obviously not made to be put onto your skin or excessively inhaled.
That’s… all I can say: enjoy the artistic pastime but use caution, because when it comes to arts & crafts, the consumer is left with astonishingly little information.

An avid crafter all my life and a daughter to an artistic father (oil painting – not the cleanest or healthiest hobby in the world and yet so glorious), I have always tried to pick at least the less nasty smelling supplies, paints and glues, and given up most obviously toxic things like polymer clay. And I’m not even demonising polymer clay here, but it does contain plasticisers (=phthalates source) and it does leach once cured so I just chose for me to not chance my luck.

#3 Candles

Conventional store-bought candles are made from paraffin, a petrochemical that releases a helluva toxic crap into the air, or from unspecified natural waxes that can be derived from conflict palm oil. And don’t get me started on artificial aromas and colourings. Thanks, but – no, thanks.

Better pick organic soy candles or beeswax if you’re not into vegan options.FarfallaScentedCandlesPersonally, I love these GMO-free soy wax Farfalla scented candles for their slightly eerie, sleek, frosted white jars [check them out here at the company’s website/ affiliate-free link], and the rest of the family moons over the unscented Grüne Erde organic beeswax candles [here’s an affiliate-free link to the GE online shop] that look delicately marbled.

Toxic Halloween: To Say Something of The Dog

#1 Pet costumes and the consequences

It’s become something of a hot trend to turn your furry darling into a goblin-ridden ghoulish mini horse. However, consider a few things:
Dogs (or cats – but well, good luck with pulling that off!) in cute costumes might not appreciate the attention.

Dogs and cats are individuals, and while some are sociable and enjoy the extra attention, others are timid wallflowers, and I’m not talking costume ideas. Parts of costume that can be chewed off are a source of danger in itself as well; and if they keep finding toxins and allergens in children’s costumes, what do you think of dog costumes?

Also don’t leave pets stray in their Halloween outfit, because a lot of things can go wrong. For example, a small child with no responsible adult around can feel compelled to (a) stroke the poochie-pooch (that can be a bit on the stressed side already and possibly overreact) or (b) feed it sugar and chocolate, which leads us to:

#2 Death by Chocolate

Of course you’re aware, as a dog owner, that pups can’t stomach chocolate; and the darker, the more hazardous.

There are a couple more things from our menu, like onions, nuts or grapes, that cause severe problems to our pets, as you probably already know, but I think that chocolates, filled chocolates (alcohol, coffee – all bad for Barky) and diet candy (xylitol!) are more likely to happen on Halloween.

#3 Decorations

Whatever decoration item can pose a choking hazard, has sharp ends, can be pulled apart and swallowed or licked off or nibbled at etc. – better not use at all. Plant or plastic – both can be toxic.

True story about pets’ inventiveness: our family dog managed to nibble at our normal carpets all the time as he was growing up. He’d hide under massive sofas, thus cleverly become unreachable, and gnaw away 😀

Bottom Line & the tl;dr Statement

Halloween is but one example for how tricky it’s become to navigate an abundance of choices; choices that somehow are not particularly healthy most of the time. If you feel bothered and upset, it’s is a good sign, meaning that things need to change. Critical consumers are not nasty nuisances neither; in fact, they are the responsible manufacturers’ best friends.

Thoughts, Adventurer?



Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at BEAUTYCALYPSE.com (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

6 Responses

  1. Have had a busy week away in Australia checking up on my elderly parents. Once I get my head sorted again (and my heart) I will do my part in the blog hop. 🙂 I noticed lots of revolting Halloween rubbish on sale in Australia.

Comments are closed.