Reverse Trick or Treating? Isn’t That, Um, Marketing?

As one who is always looking for an easy ‘twofer’ (whether it’s a sunscreen that moisturizes, an inside-out raincoat, or a trick or treating door-knock to recycle unused toys) I started pondering the various green Halloween campaigns I’ve been involved with on Eco Child’s Play and beyond, to see if they qualify as “reverse trick or treating.”

There’s a fine line here…There’s ‘trick or treating for good’ (meaning collecting things other than candy, Unicef, recyclables, cellphones, and such) and then there’s “reverse trick or treating” where you’re giving rather than receiving (handing over fair trade chocolate to educate consumers, giving out free fitness coupons to the local parks and rec fitness class, or asking folks to sign Forest Ethics’Green Halloween petition to stop junk mail)

Question: At what point does trick or treating become more about adult agendas than kids’ fun and festivity?

The joy of seeing little pumpkins in their costumes is usually gift enough for me, but I admit, it always warms my heart to see cute costumed characters trying to make a difference in this big ol’ world, even if they’re parroting their parents’ eco-values or philanthropic bent.

I dunno maybe it’s just me….Because it occurred to me in this election year, it could carry forth to the next level; some folks could be offended if some kid ding-donged with a McCain flag or an Obama button.

In fact, this hilarious Halloween cartoon tickled my funny bone and got me thinking about that very thing. (yes, mom, I get the joke)

That said, it STILL doesn’t bother me, because it says to me “thinker”—“engagement”—changemaker—cyclebreaker—catalyst for future generations. Am I alone here? Where’s the line in the chocolate?

Would you be offended if some pint-sized self-righteous ghoul or goblin came a-knockin’ ready to impart green Halloween greetings or stumping for SightNight?

One year our scout troop did the annual SightNight gig via Lions Club/Lenscrafters, asking folks via flyer ahead of time to donate their broken, scratched Rx eyeglasses for refurbishment/reuse for kids in developing nations.

It was a huge hit actually, but it takes advance planning so folks aren’t scrounging through drawers when the doorbell rings.

We’ve also done the One Warm Coat drive, as fall inches into winter, (local listings here) again, leaving the flyer on the doorstep ahead of time so the folks know ‘you’re the one’ that’s asking for it—but this begs the question…

Are kids becoming the ‘front man marketer’ for the adult agenda? Shouldn’t kids just be kids? And trick or treat for dump-on-the-table candy hauls?

I thought about this tonight as my 13-year old “angel” took off with her “devil” gal pal to maraud her school neighborhood…

I could’ve easily asked if they’d trick or treat for the ‘do not mail’ Forest Ethics’ Green Halloween (pretty safe one, since almost 90% of the population wants to eliminate junk mail so it’s doing a service!)

But I halted and thought the better of it. She believes in eco-causes for certain…but not necessarily enough to single herself out at the door. (this is the developmental stage of ‘the blend’)

If she’d voiced it as HER passion and not mine, it would be fine, but it just seemed lame to turn my agenda into hers. Am I wrong? What do you think?

Oh, and btw, are you getting many trick or treaters tonight? It’s rather lonely here…we must not have made the A-team on the neighborhood hit list.

Related Resources and Cool Halloween Links

Pre-cycle/Reuse of costumes
Halloween decor swap
10 tips for a green halloween
Fair trade treats/tips
Vegan Halloween



  1. btw, I did a bit of my own ‘marketing’ last night…giving out free (about to expire at year’s end) Green Zebra Local Savings for Sustainability coupon books that Shaping Youth acquired in a partner deal and is getting ready to use the 2009 version…(no silly, not to the KIDS…they got kid stuff…this was for the parents)

    I figured, what the hey, anyone willing to schlepp kids through the rain deserves a treat, why not introduce them to the local green businesses and healthy eating spots, eh?

    Sadly, we had a paltry turnout tho…I guess people now hangout on the mega-candylanes of suburban ‘safe streets’ instead of staying on the island. “Turn and face the strain…Ch-ch-ch-changes…” Sing it David.

  2. I rest my case…here’s a headline story of some wacky lady denying kids’ Halloween candy based on political affiliation:

    egad, people. Adults have gone mad…

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