By the time you read this, most of you will have purchased the candy you plan to pass out to trick-or-treaters this Halloween, but what you may not know is that the fun-size candy bars and other chocolate treats sold by Hershey, Mars and Nestle were likely made from cocoa harvested in West Africa by child slaves.
A report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and other African countries estimated there were 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous conditions. Many of them have been taken from their families and sold as servants. U.S. chocolate manufacturers have claimed they are not responsible for the conditions on cocoa plantations, since they don’t own them. This group includes Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and the U.S. division of Cadbury. Collectively, they are responsible for pretty much every snack-size candy bar available in stores this Halloween.
Unfortunately, though there are places to buy ethical chocolate, it’s quite expensive. Most brands sell minis for 50 cents a piece. And candy alternatives aren’t really environmentally friendly or ethically made, either. Most Halloween-themed pencils, erasers and other plastic items you’d find at big box retailers like Wal*Mart or Target are made in China under less-than-desirable conditions. McDonald’s coupons aren’t any better, and homemade treats are frowned-upon by overly concerned parents worried about poisoning and other Halloween myths. What’s a tree-hugger to do? Avoid trick-or-treating altogether and just have a Halloween party where guests will feel comfortable eating homemade popcorn balls and candy apples? Or is there a way to trick-or-treat that’s more ethically sound? Leave your thoughts and ideas below!