Corey Colwell-Lipson took action on a feeling that many moms have, year-in and year-out, at Halloween. You know that feeling when your kid comes home with a pillowcase full of junk and expects to eat it all?!
Corey was moved to make Halloween healthier not only for kids but for the planet. Along with her mom, Lynn Colwell, she launched www.greenhalloween.org in 2007. They started in Seattle with the help of Whole Foods, a local hospital and a parenting magazine. It struck a chord as something that was long overdue and became an immediate success. The following year, the initiative went nationwide and by 2011 had grown to more than 70 partner events across the country. Last year was the fifth successful year and Green Halloween replaced 1 million units of conventional candy with healthier and more sustainable alternatives.
Along with Green Halloween, they launched National www.CostumeSwapDay.com Costume Swap Day in 2010, where parents can recycle costumes by listing swaps and finding costumes in almost every state. Both Green Halloween and Costume Swap have been featured on Good Morning America, Real Simple, MSNBC, NPR and People.com.
Corey is a 39-year-old mom with two kids, ages 7 and 11. She’s actually a licensed marital and family therapist and board certified art therapist specializing in the transition to parenthood. Her focus has expanded a bit from counseling to “greening” not only Halloween but all holidays and family milestones throughout the year.
Corey’s concern for the environment started when she was young along with her family. She explains that “My own journey to being green began as a child (my family was the first I knew to have solar panels on our roof), but it wasn’t until I became a mother that my concern for the planet and my resolve to do something about this concern took hold. Like other moms, I began with baby steps by changing the foods I fed my family and then, as I learned more, changed the clothing we wore, the products we put on our skin, the toys my kids played with and the cleaning supplies I used. In addition to recycling, my family began to ‘reduce’ and to find creative ways to ‘reuse.’ Although I’ve learned a lot over the years and have a lot to share, I’m still learning and growing too. Leading a healthy lifestyle and reducing my family’s eco-footprint is an ever evolving process. My journey is made all the better when it’s shared with others who are trying to do the same.”
After the success of Green Halloween and garnering partnerships with companies such as Larabar, Honest Tea, Endangered Species, Stretch Isalnd Fruit Co., and Natures Path, Corey and her mom wrote a book titled Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family. They realized that every holiday and special event could use, as Corey says, an “eco-overhaul.”
I admire the easy-going attitude and positive way that Corey and Lynn share their ideas and solutions that have worked for them.
Corey explains their philosophy of putting “meaning in the greening”:
“Many of the ideas we share are based on the traditions around which I grew up. The way my family celebrated holidays and everyday occasions (lost teeth, good grades or just because) with a focus on ‘people over things’ grew out of my mom’s love of fun and togetherness, her frugal genius, and her boundless creativity. Meaningful moments were the gifts of these traditions, and with an emphasis on people over things, much of the cost, waste and fuss over perfection naturally falls away.”
I’m a fan of the “people over things” philosophy and switched several years ago from gifts to experiences for many celebrations, and it wasn’t even because of the green aspect. It simply made for a more memorable milestone. Now I appreciate the eco-friendly aspect of it, too.
“As a mother-daughter green team, our approach is more ‘what inspires you?’ than finger-wagging; our goal is to empower others to take small steps towards making their celebrations healthier and more sustainable — while keeping ALL the fun and building great memories. As for taking steps — we advise starting where you are, choosing just one step (adding more as you feel confident), planning ahead, working as a team (all family members can help!) and infusing everything with fun. We also suggest the three G’s as a guide to going green, as well as a definition of the word ‘green’ (people are always asking us how we define it). We all know the 3R’s — reduce, reuse and recycle (still extremely important concepts to apply), but we didn’t feel they took green far enough.”
The three G’s are: Good for People, Good for Planet and Good for Communities.
“We recommend that you ask yourself: with whatever your choice, be it for toothpaste or toys, is this option good for people, planet and communities? If not, can I make it good (or better) for at least one? If I can make it good or better for one, how about two? The idea is not perfection but it is movement forward and it may look different for each person or family.”
Corey Colwell Lipson & Lynn Colwell’s (CelebrateGreen.net) Top 3 Tips To Be More Eco-Friendly During Family Celebrations:
1. Say “no” to (conventional) gift wrap. Reuse, wrap in fabric, old calendars/maps/kids artwork/etc., or hide gifts and go without entirely! (Lynn hides all her grandkid’s birthday gifts every year. The hunt is always as exciting as the gift!)
2. Say “yes” to reusing décor, tableware and other elements such invites, costumes, gift bags, even gifts. Instead of buying new, consider which elements can be reused, recycled, upcycled, acquired used, borrowed, rented or swapped. Every element of your festivities — except maybe the food — can likely come from other-than-raw resources.
3. Recycle your food. Compost inedible food scraps and natural décor. Rotting food and pumpkins in landfills contributes to climate change via the release of methane gas. And just think of all the food (and natural décor) tossed after celebrations! Have a well-marked compost-bin at all your events (large and small). Mama Earth will celebrate you for recycling.
Corey Colwell Lipson & Lynn Colwell’s (CelebrateGreen.net) Top 3 Tips To Be More Eco-Friendly In General:
1. Eat what you buy, buy what you’ll eat (Americans toss up to 50 percent of the food they buy, so save money and reduce waste by buying only what you’ll eat and then eating it!). Hard to imagine cutting back? How about buying 25 percent less (or even 10 percent less) next time you shop and seeing how it goes. As a bonus, you’ll be saving big on your grocery bill!
2. Eat organic, especially when eating the “Dirty Dozen” — the 12 foods rated by EWG as having the highest pesticide loads. (www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary) If you’d like to save money on conventional produce, buy from the “Clean Fifteen.”
3. Keep Energy Vampires at bay. Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. These draw energy even when “off.” As a bonus, your household will save on your energy bill each month.
Through CelebrateGreen.net, Corey & Lynn remind us that we can make small, easy-to-implement changes in our lives to be more eco-friendly. It usually benefits us in more than one way as well, as Corey mentions above. Like many ‘”mompreneur ideas,” what started out as a very ordinary concern turned into a real movement that launched a business which currently involves three generations of Corey’s family and countless other families nationwide.