Halloween that is a little more green

It is approaching quickly!  I am talking about Halloween, one of the funnest holidays of the year.  It is also one of the most wasteful.  This year, may be a good time to switch up and start some new Halloween traditions or maybe revisit some from your childhood, like handmade treats and costumes.  I can still remember all of the amazing costumes that my mom made for me and my sister each year.  You can save a lot of money and make a lot of great memories. 
Avoid buying new plastic and make your own decorations.   
Mix handmade in with previous purchased decorations.
Re use or gather natural items to decorate like gourds, leaves and eco-friendly candles. 
Check out these beautiful vintage decorations you can find at yard sales.   


Try to buy locally made candy, organic or fair trade.  
Organic cereal bars, honey sticks, or lollipops may be good substitutes.
Choose candy with the least amount of packaging. 
Click here for a list of eco-friendly candy selections
Skip the candy and give eco crayons, eco-play dough or stickers. 
Trick or Treat Bag:
Use a basket, canvas or nylon bag that can be reused each year or for another purpose.
Save money and use a pillow case.
Click here to enter your child’s Halloween design to Chico Bags!
Trick or Treating:
Don’t litter.  Take an extra bag to pick up wrappers.
Walk or ride a bike.  Avoid driving house to house or share rides with neighbors.
Use hand powered flash lights.
Skip the cheap plastic costumes.  
Make a unique one yourself! Try batwings out of a broken umbrella.
Look for places renting a costume if you don’t have time to make one. 
See if you can get a costume on Freecycle.  Have one?  Post it for someone else. 
Make your own face paint.  (See recipe below.)  
Oct 9th is National Costume Swap Day! Check out GreenHalloween.org for locations and tips.
Plan a costume swap party with your friends or at your child’s school.  


Face Paint Made with Natural Food Coloring from the Campaign for Cosmetic Safety:

Natural food coloring is available at health food stores and typically derived from foods and spices. We recommend reading up about natural food colorings and potential allergies first. Do not substitute conventional food coloring, which may contain synthetic chemical ingredients.

-Base of safe, unscented lotion (search Skin Deep for safe options) OR pure cocoa butter (available at health food stores) OR safe, fluoride-free toothpaste (search Skin Deep; avoid mint flavors, as they can make skin tingly)
-Natural food coloring (see note above)

Mix a few drops of natural food coloring into the base ingredient of your choice. Test on a small patch of skin before applying to face or body.

Face Paint Made with Food

Make sure young children understand they can’t eat these paints unless you make them without the base. Test a small patch of skin first to make sure your child isn’t allergic to the food you’re using.

-Base of safe, unscented lotion (search Skin Deep for safe options) OR pure cocoa butter (available at health food stores) OR safe, fluoride-free toothpaste (search Skin Deep; avoid mint flavors, as they can make skin tingly)
-Turmeric, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, beets, avocado, spirulina, cocoa, chocolate sauce, squid ink or other colorful foods, juices, herbs and spices

Yellow: Add 1/4 tsp. and a large pinch of stale turmeric to base.

Pink: Using a sieve, mash the juice from 3 fresh or thawed frozen raspberries, blackberries or beets directly into the base. Or, use a deeply colored berry juice or puree.

Mint green: With a fork, mash 1/4 of a small avocado until creamy. Mix this into your base.

Emerald green: Add small amount spirulina or bright green chlorophyll to base.

Purple: Using a sieve, mash the juice from several fresh or frozen blueberries into the base. Or, use blueberry juice.

Brown: Add cocoa powder or chocolate sauce to base.

Black: Use a small amount of squid ink in base for true black.

White: Mix powdered sugar and water.

Thursday in the City- Changing the Way We Eat

TEDx Viewing Parties ~ February 12

Not going to make it to New York next weekend for the TEDx Manhattan event dedicated to “Changing the Way We Eat”? It’s not too late to sign up for a local Bay Area viewing party. The caveat: because the event starts at 10:30 am EST, West Coasters have to be early risers to catch all of the live simulcast. TEDx Manhattan is a one-day conference promoting regional sustainable food and efforts to shift our food system to one that is healthy and accessible to all. There are meet-ups in San Francisco, Oakland, andWalnut Creek.

Information taken from Weekly E-letter of the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture ~ 

Thursday in the City- Wrap it up

Compai Gift Wrapping ideas

I am having buyer’s remorse.  I had planned all year to make all of my own wrapping paper and then in a compulsive, frantic and stressed rush, I bought cheap gift wrap rolls from Target.  I haven’t even been in a Target in two years.  We had a Christmas light emergency and ended up there. There was a recycled logo on the front of the packaging.  After getting home, I realized that the fine print said “it can be recycled” as opposed to “it was recycled”.  I guess that is some improvement considering most paper is un recyclable.  Wrapping paper is one of the biggest wastes at Christmas.  Now I have paper and feel bad.  But I can prevent someone else from doing the same thing!  Also, I have realized that many toy drives are looking for wrapping paper donations.  That may also be a good option.  

If you have great eco-friendly ways to wrap gifts or ideas to make your own wrapping, let us know by leaving a comment or posting a picture in our Flickr Pool.  

Here are some amazing DIY wrapping ideas that will surely impress without a lot of money and are more friendly to our environment!

Celery Stamp at Geninne’s Art Blog (I had the same idea over Thanksgiving stuffing!)

CompaiCreatives Photostream (see more like the packages at the top of the page)

Handmade Stamps at Design Sponge

Rolling Pin Prints at Craft Chi

Using things around at Wrap Art

Reuse catalogs at Curbly

Other alternatives

Happy Thanksgiving!

We would like to say “thank you” to all of our readers for all of your comments, advice and support.  It is really starting to feel like a community and a source for reliable information!  So thank you for all of your contributions.    Enjoy the holiday!  


Sleep in on Friday and shop local

Photo Source:  we heart it

Giveaway- The Hunt for Bees

Giveaway readers (Cindy, Danielle, SisterThreads.com) please email us your address so that we can send you the Sunflower seeds!  Thank you for all of your comments.  

Email your information to:  dogislandfarm(at)gmail(dot)com

Photo Source

Thursday in the City- Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences - Rainforest Atrium

Steinhart Aquarium - California Academy of Sciences

If you haven’t been to the California Academy of Sciences yet, go to the Thursday Nightlife event!   Every time I have gone to a Thursday night event, it has been a blast.  There are djs, drinks, demos, and of course all of the exhibits.  The aqauriums are magical and  the rainforest is pretty amazing too.  Check out their food related events and demos tonight at this weeks “A Taste of NightLife”.   

The below is taken from California Academy of Sciences Events.  

Films from KQED

The Botany of Desire

NightLife is pleased to be screening  The Botany of Desire, the popular film based on Michael Pollan’s best-selling book.  This work explores the nature of domesticated plants from the dual perspective of humans and the plants themselves. Pollan presents case studies that mirror four types of human desires that are reflected in the way that we selectively grow, breed, and genetically engineer our plants. The apple reflects the desire of sweetness, the tulip beauty, marijuana pleasure and the potato sustenance.

Black Gold

“As westerners revel in designer lattes and cappuccinos, impoverished Ethiopian coffee growers suffer the bitter taste of injustice. In this eye-opening expose of the multi-billion dollar industry, Black Gold traces one man’s fight for a fair price.”  — Black Gold website

Capacity for screenings of The Botany of Desire and Black Gold are limited. Show passes are available the night of the event and will be distributed on a first-come first-served basis.

Acclaimed PBS shows Check Please and Roadtrip Nation will be screened inside the building and we will have a special appearance by the Roadtrip Nation RV.

Buy Tickets to NightLife on November 18th »

Food Demonstrations

NightLife, KQED and a variety of expert organizations have a treat for all of you foodies this week: food demonstrations that with stimulate both your taste buds and your mind.  A select few attendees of each talk will get to sample the outcome.  Topics include:
The Science of Taste – Presented by the Culinary Institute Chef and 18 Reasons, including Flavor Bar and Miracle Fruit demonstrations
The Science of Chocolate  – Presented by Tcho andMadecasse

Beer and other Sundry topics – Presented by Roadtrip Nation
Including clips from their popular series.

Capacity for these talks is limited.  Show passes are available the night of the event and will be distributed on a first-come first-served basis.

On a less formal note, we’ll have a number organizations setting up demonstration and sampling tables throughout the Academy, to both titillate and educate.  Among those participating are Hayes Valley Farm18 ReasonsLuna BarBionade, and edible insects.

Thursday in the City- Giveaway to join the hunt for bees!

A lot of organizations are using the internet to gain interest and participation in public art and science projects.   Most recently, I participated in the Wonderarium where you plant a succulent that came with a UPC like code that allows the plant to be tracked online.   That way everyone participating could watch how others were doing and where they were.   I found a similiar project while walking around the Green Festival this past weekend only this one involved tracking bees.   I spoke to a represetative at the “Your Garden Show” booth. 

YourGardenShow.com is a free online platform connecting gardeners of all experience with a wealth of knowledge, tools and resources to inspire environmentally sustainable green spaces, big and small, indoors and out. They are recruiting ‘bee counters’ for one of the citizen science initiatives they are supporting, The Great Sunflower Project.  People get a seed packet of Helianthus annuus, Lemon Queen Sunflower, to attract bees to their garden.  They are then asked to report online how many bees they count. This would be a great activity for anyone concerned with the bee population, just curious or with a classroom. 

The Great Sunflower Project was started two years ago as a way to gather information about our urban, suburban and rural bee populations. They wanted to enlist people all over the US and Canada to observe their bees and be citizen scientists. Sunflowers were chosen  so that they could standardize study of bee activity and provide more resources for bees. Sunflowers are relatively easy to grow and are wildly attractive to bees. Since 2008, the expanded list of plants studied include Bee balm, Cosmos, Rosemary, Tickseed, and Purple coneflower. So far they’ve found that the on average our gardeners are likely to see a bee pollinate every 2.6 minutes. Surprisingly, over 20% of our gardens never saw a bee! 
For more information or to get involved with this project, go to www.greatsunflower.org.  
Dog Island Farm has 5 seed packets to giveaway!  Just leave a comment below telling us what your favorite thing about fall is!  We will make the selections randomly.  Postage is only within the US.  

Thursday in the City- Turn Branches into Furniture

DIY coffee table at How’s House

I love the idea of going out into the woods and gathering branches to make something.  When I lived in a wooded area, we would collect vines and make wreaths.  It was so fun.  We also made forts from larger branches. (I was much much younger then)  Now I live in the city, luckily near the beach, and collect drift wood.   But I still think back to how fun it was to have that direct connection to nature and my environment, to be able to use it sufficiently and bring it into my home to enjoy.   Below are some great articles and instructions to make your own furniture from fallen branches and twigs.  It would be a great activity during this wonderful fall weather!

Wild and Woody at Mother Earth News

Willow Twig Furniture at Instructables

Fallen Branches by Brent Comber

How to Make Twig Furniture at Mademan

Plant Display Stand Instructions at Esprit Cabane

Twig Baskets at Suite101

Thursday in the City- Shopping

Two great shopping guides:
www.goodguide.com (even has an iphone app)

Thursday in the City- Learn to make traditional Day of the Dead breads

pan de muerto
Day of the Dead: Celebrate with traditional breads and a fantastic dinner
Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 6:30-9:00 pm

The photo and below information were taken from the “The day of the Dead is appraoching…” E-letter from La Cocina.  For more information, go to http://www.lacocinasf.org/

Dia de los Muertos will soon be upon us. Join Chef Luis Vazquez, owner of Chaac Mool, as he shares how food lies at the heart of this festive holiday. We will focus on mak ing tra di tional Day of the Dead breads like pan de muerto. Guests will leave with a sam pling of breads and din ner and drinks are included. 

As always, a portion of the proceeds of this class benefit La Cocina’s innovative Business Incubator Program. Thank you for your support!

Where: La Cocina, 2948 Folsom St. San Francisco, CA
When: Wednesday, October 27th, 2010, 6:30–9 PM
What: Day of the Dead class, take home breads (you make ’em!), dinner and drinks. 
How Much: $65 for the class  
Why: Really, do you have a better idea?