I’m suggesting you give out light bulbs.
Energy-saving LED bulbs, to be precise. Along with chocolate, of course. Like we did in 2017.
I thought so, too. But humor me. Maybe you’ll come around like I did.
Last October, my Reductionist husband ordered four packs of LED light bulbs online, totaling about a hundred bucks, with the intention of giving one away to every trick-or-treater that might visit us on Halloween.
I thought he was out his damn mind.
“I’m not suggesting we don’t also give away candy,” he argued. “Just think about this opportunity, though! A hundred people are gonna be coming to us. Change happens one person at a time, right?
And sometimes you have to make it simple for people to try out something they might never have even thought about doing. This is our chance to walk the walk, to possibly make a difference, and I want to do that by giving something useful away,” he said. “Come on!”
Cue the furrowed brow.
“But light bulbs are fragile,” I said. “Won’t they smash in little kids’ Halloween buckets?”
They’re made of durable plastic, as my husband pointed out when the huge box of bulbs arrived on our doorstep. You can drop them on the sidewalk from inside, say, a Halloween pillow case or plastic pumpkin bucket, and they’ll bounce.
I began to see the light.
I knew we’d already been using them all over our house. They give off a warm glow—not the squint-inducing glare of those awful fluorescent lights from the nineties. Brightness-wise, they’re comparable to your average 60-watt bulb, only they use a mere 8 watts, which is significant in terms of fossil fuel consumption.
And they last forever—glowing for up to ten-thousand hours before they need to be replaced, compared to the one- or two-thousand hours that our old, beloved incandescent bulbs burned.
If you were to purchase an LED by itself, it’d cost you up to $7. That’s why we buy them in bulk packages (a 16-pack here is about $28 from Home Depot at the time of this writing, or less than $2 per bulb).
Compare that to the incandescent bulbs we grew up with, which only cost $1 to $3. But because those need to be replaced five times before you’d have to replace one LED, going the LED route saves you money in the long run. And because you’re using lower wattage, you’ll see a lower light bill at the end of the month, too.
What’s not to love?!
I jumped on board with the light bulb Halloween giveaway, but not without conditions.
“You’re gonna be the one to pass them out, aren’t you…honey?” I told my huz.
But we take turns, alternating each year, which of us takes the kids around the neighborhood and which of us stays home to pass out candy.
I’d conveniently forgotten it was my year for porch duty.
Andrew grinned. “Come on, you can do this! I’ll write a note that we can attach to each box to explain so you don’t have to,” he said.
I sighed. He wrote the note. I gussied it up, and because I love you guys, I’m sharing it here so you can use it to, if you want. Note: I used some fancy fonts that didn't translate through Scribd, so you can personalize it however you want. Download, forward, share it with friends. Print a few pages’ worth and cut them to size. I taped one to each box ahead of trick-or-treating time.
That sounds like a lot of time and money you wasted, you might be thinking.
But that’s not the way I see it.
Given that the average American spends a whopping $16 on candy, $80 on costumes, and $37 on decorations every single Halloween, according to this Forbes article, the hundred bucks or so that we spent on light bulbs is a drop in the bucket.
At least light bulbs get used all year long, unlike the holiday junk we enjoy for a couple of hours one night a year.
So, how did it go? I realized quickly that crisp Halloween night that, despite the pithy note, I’d have to do a bit of verbal PR off the cuff.
“Here’s a candy bar for you, and this little box is for your mom or dad,” I told the kids. “Oh, and don’t worry, it won’t shatter!”
What was the reaction?
Even better, weeks and months later, we got neighbors passing by—walking their dogs or taking their kids to the park—saying things like, “Hey, you’re the light bulb people! That was such a great idea! Thanks!”
One neighbor--Chuck, I’m talking to you!—made a point to swing by to tell us he loved his light bulb so much, and loved his energy bill even more, despite being skeptical at first, that he’d gone and replaced every single light fixture in his house with LEDs.
See? Thinking outside the candy wrapper actually did make a difference. One neighbor at a time.
It might not be feasible for everybody to pull off something like this every year, or even once. I get it. Money. Time. Obligations. We were lucky we could afford this last year.
But if you’re itching to make a difference in your corner of the world and you have the means (and guts) to try something like this, GO FOR IT!
And by all means, tell us how it goes in the comments below! Or, if you have a better idea, all of us would LOVE to hear it.
Happy Halloween, everybody!
I'm Janeen; writer, mother, wife, and full-time, radical Reductionist. I share stupid-easy tips on how to save money while reducing your impact on the environment, & I'm committed to helping others live a life of simple sustainability.
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