Article Below by our Green Team Lead: Susan Francis
*The Green Team strives to inform and inspire*
I. The App to Save the Planet this Holiday Season!
II. Ancient, Inspiring Meaning of Halloween (Samhain) Critical to These Times
III. Why Halloween’s, and All Holidays, Can (and Critically Need) to be Green.
IV. Winners of, and Answers to, Our Cool Eco-Quiz!
I. The App to Save the Planet this Holiday Season
Americans have spent an estimated 8.2 billion on Halloween this year… and unfortunately much of that is not only on earth-destroying, but potentially health-destroying, products. With even more to be spent on Thanksgiving and beyond.

In much of these products lies an ingredient that is causing massive climate change along with species extinction. One that we cannot easily regulate with legislative power, but instead with the power of awakened purchasing: PALM OIL.

Palm Oil production is one of the biggest threats to our planet today.  Occurring largely in Indonesia, most especially Sumatra and Borneo, rainforest is slashed and burned at the rate of 3 FOOTBALL FIELDS PER HOUR, 24/7, i n order to create palm plantations for this then inexpensive oil. Inexpensive to corporations such as Proctor and Gamble, Hershey, Pepsi and more, Pal Oil is immensely costly to the endangered species who live therein, the people of Indonesia and to planet itself due to the climate change impact of Palm Oil.

Not only are critically endangered species (such as the last of three types of orangutans that live only there, along with Sumatran Tigers and Elephants) slaughtered in this horrific process, but Indonesia rainforest grows in peat, unlike other rainforests. Peat stores enormous amounts of carbon and when burned, that carbon releases into the atmosphere. That release contributes more to climate change than countless other sources and creates dangerous air quality. Here you see rescuers of orangutans from fires, risking their own health to be of help.
Some companies, like Hershey and Proctor and Gamble, claim they are producing sustainable palm oil, but there is evidence that they are not complying. Further, FCV, the group that produces labor on these plantations, has been found guilty of gross human rights violations such as forced labor and human trafficking of the Indonesians who work on these plantations. 

You would think such reckless destruction would only be for truly critical products. But (in the words of the late great John Belushi)… Nooooooo. All of this happens for: Our Doritos. Our KFC and Pizza Hut. Our shampoo and our floor cleaners. And yes, most of all: our Halloween Candy. Palm Oil is pervasive in these products. Evil, unnecessary yet pervasive.

So pervasive, it’s hard to find, hard to fight. But now, a wonderful and free app can help. Available in any app store, Sustainable-Palm-Oil-Shopping will guide you clearly and colorfully to sustainable shopping. Because the answer lies not only in boycotting, but in supporting sustainable palm oil production. This form can actually contribute to the health of the planet as well as the people and creatures of Indonesia, and this app tells you how, with icons for food, candy and other products. 

So PLEASE, do not get overwhelmed, instead get onboard! This is fun and simple to do. We often feel helpless in these times; this is a small way to make a big difference.
Here is a sweet two minute video to explain the app:

Want to do a bit more? 
Visit and sign up for their e-alerts. A world-wide activist organization, Avaaz has done more to help the planet than some environmental groups. Avaaz regularly battles the producers of conflict Palm Oil, rarely ask for funds but does send out highly effective petitions in which your signature matters. 

Similarly, sign up to is a bit more US oriented but also has incredibly effective petitions in these fights.

You can also join World Wildlife Fund or many such organizations; they give a gift for membership (great for holiday presents, as we will discuss in future issues!), such groups also have the power to turn this around.

Here’s the point: their future, along with that of our own, lies in the palm of our hands.
II. Ancient, Inspiring Meaning of Halloween (Samhain) to Help These Turbulent Times
Democrats, as we will discuss below, Halloween, originally Samhain, was a ceremony and celebration for this time year. It marks the end of the entire growing/harvest season to enter a time of release and darkness, to be born again in spring. 

It is the symbolic time to let go of the impermanent. Leaves fall, annuals die… but roots grow deeper. So too did people let go of the passing season and went within to heal, release and restore.

In some traditions, all fires in villages were put out in order to enter darkness for profound release of the old ways. This was no small feat when you couldn’t just flick your Bic to start again. 

This was done so that the new season could be seen by the light of a new fire. 
Humanity, and the fate of the entire planet, has never needed such clear vision more. We have never been more out of touch with the rhythms and cycles of the earth for restoration, with dire consequences.

In keeping with that earth-honoring tradition, let us all vow to view our purchases and our planet with clear and open eyes. Through the light of living harmoniously, sustainably, both with our own energy personal energy (as most of us run beyond our reserves) and the planetary energy.  

For even with all of our electrical lighting, on all night in countless buildings and cities, we stumble in darkness about what we truly do to the planet and so to ourselves in the process.

Let us aspire to this quote from Albert Einstein:
Our task must be to free ourselves … by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
III. Why Halloween’s, and All Holidays, Can (and Critically Need) to be Green.
We are all eager (desperate!) to vote these days, right? But in the meanwhile, we must remember WE VOTE WITH OUR DOLLARS. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Our collective purchases help drive the economic engine of planetary destruction. Similarly, our choices can turn it towards protection and salvation; we just must be aware to get there. So this Halloween, consider:

*An estimated 3.2 billion, the National Retailers Foundation estimates, will go to commercial Halloween costumes. Costumes made almost entirely of fossil fuels. Most contain PVC (vinyl) and so are likely to contain lead and phthalates , both toxic, with commercial flame retardants.  Flame retardants may sounds like a good idea in theory, but in practice they can contain a host of toxins, heavy metals and chemicals. They’re linked to  health problems  like thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, lower IQ and advanced puberty, AND may not even be effective at reducing flammability!!

*Even make-up is unsafe!, in their article on The Real Villains of Halloween, notes: “Common face paints and conventional makeups often contain lead, a serious  health hazard  especially in children, as well as  other allergenic metals  like nickel, cobalt and chromium. Personal care products, like makeup, are poorly regulated in the US. The FDA does not require companies to disclose ingredients on labels, so… Major loopholes  allow for manufacturers to hide health hazards like  parabens  and bury  phthalates  within industry terms like “fragrance”.   Nearly 50% of face paints  tested in a recent report contained at least one hormone-altering ingredient, and 20% of the face paints contained lead. Another report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found  10 out of 10 face paints tested to contain lead.

*Not only does the 2.6 billion estimated to be spent on almost all commercial Halloween candy this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual survey, contain Palm Oil , it most likely also has GMO ingredients and the sugar and chocolate therein were commercially farmed, further destroying rainforest, cultures and health. These products can also contribute to the epidemic of childhood obesity, food allergies, etc.

Wow. There’s a REAL fright-fest, right?!?! 

Take heart Democrats..., you and the kids can still celebrate. As even in the time of many of our parents, Halloween was not a toxic freak show. There are SO many options to supports our health and that of our planet in the coming years:

The Solutions

*Purchase candy free of Palm Oil and GMO’s, here is a great short article that gives specific suggestions. Such products are also usually free of allergens, sugar and some even donate to earth-friendly causes such as endangered species.  

NOTE: This holiday season, when purchasing the candies in the above article, support local businesses, such as Fruitful Yield . They have many of the healthy, sustainable candies mentioned in the article such as Glee Gum and Chocolate Bites from the Endangered Species Coalition.

Other stores such as Whole Foods, and Fresh Thyme carry some as well, and even Target carries some YumEarth products. When in doubt, Amazon has them all!

*Use thrift stores, your 80’s attire in the attic, old fabric and more to make costumes. C’mon, get creative, its heavenly fun, as opposed to a demon-red polyester party.
*Organic or at least non-toxic make-up abounds, and you can make your own, check out for a fun, non-toxic recipe for kids!
Any of these steps you take will be helpful as we all learn to live sustainably. The holiday season is upon us we will continue to inform and hopefully inspire you about how to make holidays happy for the planet!
IV. Winners of, and Answers to, Our Cool Eco-Quiz!
Many thanks to all of you who enjoyed our contest, and especially to those who replied! First, here are the questions, and answers:

*What do your choices in Halloween Candy, how you manage your autumn leaves and yard or patio this autumn, and Illinois’ Clean Energy Jobs Act (Senate Bill 2132, House Bill 3624) ALL HAVE IN COMMON?
ANSWER : All of them can help prevent climate change and in encourage species preservation!

*List a carbon-producing, species-destroying ingredient in most commercial Halloween candy.
ANSWER : Palm Oil.

*How many birds have we lost in North America during the past 50 years according to a study published this September in the journal SCIENCE?

*What can (and will) you do to support The Clean Energy Jobs Act?
ANSWER : Lobby, make calls to your representatives and Governor Pritzker. We’ll give you more info on this next issue!


*Name an endangered bird species in Illinois.
ANSWERS Short-eared owls, piping plovers, bitterns, least tern. rufa red knot… all of these were listed by our winners, and sadly, many more.

*Why does bird loss matter to our overall ecosystem?
ANSWERS : Birds help pollinate, they eat insects and vermin and spread seeds with their droppings. Birds are a critical part of our entire North American eco-system and are therefore considered indicator species… their presence indicates the health of the areas in which they live.

Here are the GREEN Halloween Eco-Quiz winners, in order:

* Jennifer Ladisch Douglass , Elmhurst, won first and with the most complete answers.  She wins a copy of Rachel Maddow’s book: Blowout! Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth (aka, fossil fuels).

* Claire Goldberg , Lisle. Claire also won the above book!

* Linda Sullivan , Lombard. Linda wins Naomi Klein’s latest book: On Fire! The Burning Case for the Green New Deal.

* Tina Tyson Dunne , Lombard. Tina wins the bags of earth-friendly and delicious Halloween treats. Note that Tina is also a candidate for Forest Preserve Commissioner in DuPage.

Stay Tuned for Next Issue with:
Reports on How to Help Endangered Wildlife in YOUR Yard this Fall,
 Clean Energy Progress in Illinois
More Green Holiday Tips!
Meanwhile, may you all have a restorative, if snow filled, Samhain!
Paid for by the Democratic Party of DuPage County, who continues the Fight for Economic Justice,
Civil Rights and Our Environment within DuPage & Beyond.