Halloween is an exciting time for kids. As your little princesses, pirates, zombies and vampires drag their precious haul of trick-or-treat candy to the table, you do your best as a parent to be sensible. You realize that all those sugary goodies—including some that may not be the best quality— is just too much! But what can be done with the excess?
Dr. Sean Bhasin of Spearmint Dental in SW Edmonton has introduced a unique solution that rewards healthy dental choices and responsible disposal with Spearmint Dental’s 1st Annual Halloween Candy Buy-Back. It is the first of its kind for Edmonton. Bhasin first learned of the program while living in the U.S., where participating dentists and orthodontists started a Halloween candy buy-back initiative for a buck a pound. The candy was then donated to the Operation Gratitude care package program and shipped to U.S. troops serving overseas. The buy-back program went national in 2007 with about 300 dentists participating. Now, seven years later, over 2,500 dentists and orthodontists from across North America are participating in similar or independent efforts, including the participating cities of Calgary, Lethbridge and Vancouver.
Here in Edmonton, 771 students of the Monsignor Fee Otterson Elementary-Junior High School and just over 1000 students of the Johnny Bright Elementary- Junior High School were invited to bring in their excess candy to the dental office on November 1. Drs. Bhasin, Dewar and Kern offered to reward the children $1 for every one pound of candy, up to eight pounds, which is probably more than it cost to manufacture some of the treats. Each child was entered in a draw to win an iPad. In addition, the two participating schools will receive a minimum of $500.
As word of the program spread, several families also came from Leduc, Fort Saskatchewan, and St. Albert to participate. “In fact, one little girl from St. Albert donated her Halloween candy buy-back money for cancer research,” said Terri Mavin who works the front desk.
“Parents think it’s great idea and are happy to get the extra candy off their hands because they eat it as well.” All the children who participated were extremely excited to receive their flashing LED toothbrushes, prizes, and healthy snacks—cheese and crackers and apple treats.
Dr. Bhasin finds Halloween to be an exciting and fun festival. “It also happens to be extremely profitable for the candy manufacturers, but all that sugar is the real nightmare on our kids’ oral and overall health. We want to celebrate Halloween with our kids by taking some of that sugar off their hands while leaving all the fun behind.”
Over 400 pounds of candy was received. What will be done with all that candy? Office Manager Anne Kenyon said Spearmint Dental will ensure that the candy is disposed of responsibly by taking it to Edmonton’s premiere clean tech company, Enerkem, where it will be processed into biofuel.
Spearmint Dental is already looking forward to running next year’s Halloween candy buy-back. Slowly but surely, as Kenyon says, it is becoming a movement.
Pictured: Dr. Decay lounges with the candy received during Spearmint Dental’s 1st Halloween Candy Buy-Back, sponsored by Spearmint Dental. Photo by Terri Mavin