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Green Family Values: A Fair Trade, Alternative Halloween

Halloween is one week away, and the blogosphere has erupted in green Halloween posts. From The Green Guide to Eco Child’s Play, everyone is writing about having an eco-friendly, ghoulish good time. Green Halloween has also been a hot topic lately on Green Options:

By now you may be groaning, "Oh no, not another green Halloween post about making your own costume and giving out pencils," yet this green idea flips the holiday over on the concept of Fair Trade.

Think about Fair Trade in the simplest terms, as a young child may define it. If I give you something, in exchange you will give me something of equal value, whether monetary or not. For example, children trading marbles will exclaim, "That is not fair," if they do not view the marble exchange as equitable. In a child’s mind, Halloween is not an equitable trade… they make out like bandits while trick-or-treating! All they have to do is sport a costume and knock on their neighbors’ doors to receive lots and lots of candy! It is definitely not a Fair Trade! Global Exchange proposes a change to this custom by promoting "reverse" trick-or-treating.

Reverse trick-or-treating is an educational campaign aimed at informing households about the "social justice issues in the cocoa industry, and how Fair Trade certified chocolate works to end poverty." Families participate by knocking on their neighbors’ doors and giving them Fair Trade chocolate. Instead of only receiving sweet treats, children get to give them out, too. It’s a fair trade. The Fair Trade chocolate is accompanied by flyers explaining how Fair Trade benefits children in cocoa farming communities. One flyer includes a letter of protest to the CEO of World’s Finest Chocolate and a letter for parents to give to their children’s teachers about Fair Trade curriculum. Another flyer states,

Despite six years of promises from major chocolate manufacturers, little has been done to tackle the documented problem of forced child labor on many farms that supply their cocoa. Moreover, low cocoa prices have left cocoa farmers in poverty year after year. There is a SOLUTION, and all you have to do is eat chocolate!

Even though the deadline to officially sign up for Equal Exchange’s reverse trick-or-treating has passed, you can still participate in your own campaign and report your results. Imagine the look on your neighbors’ faces when your costumed children give them Fair Trade chocolate! I propose that children can still receive goodies while reverse trick-or-treating, thus I think the term "exchange" trick-or-treating offers a better description of the activity. Goodies for adults may be different than treats for children, but the idea of fairly trading goods on this holiday instead of the one-way giving of tradition is an interesting idea. Unless we put the "trick" back into trick-or-treating, exchange trick-or-treating offers a great solution for turning Halloween into a socially responsible holiday.


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