Halloween Handout Alternatives

As society moves forward, we’re beginning to learn more and more about different diets, food allergies, and other dietary restrictions in kids, adults, and seniors. This means that restaurants have a heightened awareness of food labels and labeling their own menus, and it also means taking specific orders very seriously and to the exact point. Any single mess up could mean the business is sued or worse: a patron could become severely ill or even die from mishandled food.

A lot of people have taken up arms in this new era, considering some of these dietary restrictions as needless or extra, and they’re quick to point the finger at political correctness. Whatever it is, being PC has caused scores of people to get offended by having to be more careful about what they say and how they say it. I’m guessing it’s because everyone seems to hate change, and having to change up the way they speak for the sake of others (oh the horror!) has caused them some sort of distress.

Nonetheless, back to dietary restrictions. With Halloween here, I told my partner that it would be great to offer some sort of alternative to handouts given on Halloween night. Since so many different candy boxes are full of too much sugar or have dairy products or even tree nuts in them, it’s better to err on the side of caution and hand out little crafts or stickers instead. Since nonfood items can still be enjoyed, there’s no worrying about what kids may have certain allergies to certain foods.

So, instead of handing out jawbreakers and milk chocolate bars and an assortment of candy boxes, I think we’re going to be content buying a hodge podge of little stickers online off Etsy, and we may even knit our own little spooky ghost figures or bats. I know a lot of kids look forward to the sweets they get on October 31st, but considering they’ll get plenty of candy from other neighbors, I feel better knowing I didn’t cause some unwanted food reaction while also handing out something memorable to the kids.

See, being aware of food allergens and dietary restrictions isn’t hard at all. All it takes is some thoughtfulness and willingness to switch up the norms to accommodate others. I don’t see why this is such a big deal to so many people, but I have a sneaking suspicion it all rides on having to go out of your way to help out another person. And that, for some reason, is too hard to do.

Gift Giving is a Weird Concept

At some point in the past few years, I started to realize how full of fluff and fake niceties a lot of social events (especially those “celebrating” something) really are. Perhaps I’m a pessimist when it comes to talking about such things, but I’ve either grown jaded to things like birthdays, or I’m just starting to see such events for what they really are.

Don’t get me wrong. Holding birthdays for family members or kids serves its purpose quite well. The problem is that people still expect to be coddled on their birthday into their late 20s, and I just don’t jive with that mentality by any means. At some point or another, you’ve got to realize that a birthday is merely a day we’ve been conditioned to view as super special. And the whole idea of gift giving? That’s a bit extra.

Now, let me take a step back to talk about why I feel so strongly about these things. Honestly, I feel it all starts with the idea that we “owe” someone else a gift on their special day. This is where I have a huge problem, simply because this implies that we shouldn’t treat this person well the other 364 days in the year.

“Oh but I do treat my friends nice throughout the rest of the year!” Do you? If you honestly do, that’s great and how things should be. By all means, still get them a nice gift this year since you guys have a great relationship.

But for those of you who feel like you’re obligated to get a friend a gift or that getting them something will show you care about them… I have news for you: that’s not caring for a friend, and they don’t want your gift if you feel obligated to spend on them.

I mean, really, I just find the whole idea of spending money on certain items and wrapping them up in cardboard boxes to be kind of weird. It’s not something we do in our everyday lives, but if it were, well, then a birthday gift wouldn’t be so special. It would be just another gift. This is pretty much the embodiment of the whole “live everyday like it was your last” mindset. The more we place some special importance on a single day in the year, the less likely we are to treat every day as amazing and special.

So there you have it. I don’t “hate” birthdays. I just find the idea of shelling out money for gifts only to put them in cardboard boxes with a nametag to be overall pretty petty. Why not do this every month for those you love?

Reusing Your Cardboard

I’ve always been a huge fan of holding on to things (especially supplies and materials) that you think you no longer need. This is especially so for anything that’s often regarded as trash or mere packaging. For example, think of all the cardboard boxes you’ve ever had in your life. Now try to imagine the percentage of those you could’ve broken down and stored away for future use but are instead somewhere in a landfill, taking up space for no reason?

For as versatile and eco-friendly as cardboard is, we have a habit of throwing it straight in the trash instead of using it around the house for storage, recycling it, or even using it for mulch or composting. Why is it that we are always so obsessed with throwing things away?

The short answer is because we’re lazy. The long answer? Because the landfill system has made gathering trash and tossing it in a hole in the ground far easier than alternative methods. So, with a system made for us to be lazy, we’re all going to be lazy and choose the laziest option. Why would it have turned out any other way?

I try to do my part, though, in holding onto cardboard from packaging instead of tossing it straight in the trash. In fact, the last option I choose is recycling it. And I only resort to that if I don’t have use for it, don’t end up burning it, or can’t use it in organic matter, such as mulch and composting. (Yes, you can do both of these if you take the time to learn the process and do it on your own.)

Ultimately, we have to learn to start taking responsibility for our actions, and that includes everyday actions like tossing things in the trash.

If you happen to think of it, refuse to throw your cardboard boxes away the next time you get something in the mail from online. Heck, even if you got it from the store and it’s packaged in cardboard, make the conscious effort to break it down and store it away. And if you already have a huge amount of cardboard because you’ve been doing this, choose to recycle instead of trash it! It cannot be understated how much reducing your trash and reusing things from packaging helps to benefit the environmental state of the world. If only everyone would take the time to recycle one piece of cardboard once a week, things wouldn’t look so bleak.

Shipping Makes Eating Easier

The more I get into eating healthier, planning out my meals, learning about my diet and how it interacts with my ideals, and purchasing cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable food, I feel like I owe it to myself and to what I believe in to keep pushing forward.

The latest push forward I’ve been wanting to make finally took place this past weekend: purchasing shares from a community supported fishery (CSF). Basically, by paying a certain amount of money per month, you’re guaranteed a certain amount of fish by the pound in that given month. This is huge for fisheries considering that you’re paying them more money up front for their product (which allows them to expand, do better in their practices fishing, and pay more towards other causes). It’s also huge for the customer because they’re guaranteed a particular product that is unmatched by any competitors out there. Why is that?

Because there really aren’t many other competitors at the moment that matter. CSFs are basically competing with bigger stores (like Meijer or Walmart or Kroger) that sell fish at cheaper prices. The thing with their fish, though, is that it’s more often than not farmed, it’s not as healthy, it’s been frozen twice, and the methods of obtaining the fish are bad for the environment, bad for the ecosystem from which the fish came, and bad for the fish themselves.

So while you’ll be paying a little more for your food, the efforts that these CSFs go to in order to give you the best experience possible is outstanding. What’s cool for the consumer, too, is that once you’ve ordered your share, you’ll receive cardboard boxes full of your flash frozen fish (with dry ice to keep them frozen in transit!) on a monthly or bimonthly basis. All that you need will be sitting right there on your doorstep once you get home.

Even better, there’s no better way to get the freshest, most environmentally friendly and sustainable fish out there if you’re landlocked and don’t have access to truly fresh, wild caught fish. For example, I live in the Midwest and there’s no way I could find anything else as good as the product which I’m now buying in on.

CSFs made their model based around community supported agriculture (CSAs) that are becoming more and more frequent. Now that I’ve made the leap to a CSF, I know I’m extremely interested to be a part of a CSA around me. After all, I do live in the Midwest.

The Usefulness of Cardboard at Big Events

I’ve now made my way down to the heart of Tennessee for the best week of the year twice in a row now, and that celebrated title goes to The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

Camping out among one hundred thousand other people stoked to see similar shows that I’m into, eat the most amazing food you can think of, and be among beautiful people is the highlight of my year for two straight years. As much as I love the music, I love the experience, culture, and community with the people even more.

That’s why setting up your campsite to be “home base” is so important so that you can hang with other people, have a good time, and still get the sleep you need (which is a huge functional part of the festival weekend that many people forget about).

So, I decided to stop and revisit my experience this past weekend to write down what I must bring next year, and I’ve figured out a few things that are must haves for my future Bonnaroos. But one thing that stuck out to me as useful kind of surprised it.

Without realizing it until after the festival, I suddenly figured out how absolutely useful cardboard boxes would’ve been as storage at my campsite. There were so many things scattered around camp by the time Sunday came around that we had a somewhat tough time of finding what we needed, when we needed it. This could have saved precious time while also fending off losing anything we may have let wander into someone else’s campsite.

I know that next year we’ll be packing more appropriate and useful items while also cutting back on things we really didn’t need as much, so adding cardboard boxes to my list of things I have to have is important to me. The best part about it that is in spirit of Bonnaroo is that cardboard is free, easy to assemble, and biodegradable in a way that plastic containers are not. These three things make it the perfect item to have when it comes to keeping all of your loose things in a storage container that you know it’ll be in when you go to find it in the mornings or evenings back at camp.

While a lot of festival attendees may not think of cardboard as ultra useful, I’m beginning to realize it’s what I need from every year here on out.