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How to Have Sustainable Halloween Costume This Year?

0 shares Share 0 Tweet 0 Pin 0 Share 0 Autumn, costumes, candy, scary pumpkins… It doesn’t get much better than Halloween. But, it’s also one of the most wasteful holidays.Americans are expected to spend $10.6 billion this… Read More

Autumn, costumes, candy, scary pumpkins… It doesn't get much better than Halloween. But, it’s also one of the most wasteful holidays.

Americans are expected to spend $10.6 billion this Halloween season. A bulk of this will go to costumes. What will happen to those costumes as soon as they’re taken off at the end of the night? They’ll end up in the trash.

I decided to make a change this year. I spent hours researching ways to make Halloween costumes more sustainable, and I came up with several creative ideas. Here’s everything you should know about how to have sustainable Halloween costume. 

10 Tips To Have a Sustainable Halloween Costume

1. Reuse an Old Costume

The most obvious tip on having a sustainable Halloween costume is to reuse an old one. If you think your old costumes are too boring or outdated, you can learn simple sewing skills and transform them into something beautiful or terrifying. 

You can also add accessories to old Halloween costumes that’ll make them feel brand new. For example, use ordinary household items for kids’ costumes, and turn them into princesses and pirates. 

Open those boxes with old Halloween costumes, and who knows what treasure you may find inside.

Reuse old costumes for Halloween

2. Shop Your Closet

Another great way to be eco-friendly this Halloween is to reuse the clothes you already have. I know it doesn’t sound too exciting, but I promise you can end up with the most original Halloween costume at the party.

Think about your clothes and what could suit your costume idea. For example, choose black clothing if you want to be a witch. Or, go for a white dress and make a pair of wings out of cardboard boxes if you want to be an angel.

This is also a great way to use clothes that we’ve been sitting in the back of your closet for ages. Add some theme-appropriate accessories and spooky makeup, and you’re ready to go. 

3. Upcycle Old Clothes

The goal of upcycling is to give old items a new purpose and prevent them from ending up in landfills. You can do this with old clothes for Halloween too.

Are there accessories you no longer wear or clothes that don’t fit you? Or, do you have a pile of clothes your children have outgrown? Think about if some of these can be turned into a costume.

For example, that sweatshirt and sweatpants you’ve wanted to throw out for ages. You can cut it and turn it into a skeleton costume. Or, do you have an old shirt that no longer fits? You can cut up, dye, and redesign it into a brand new costume.

4. Have a Costume Exchange Party

Here’s another idea on how to get rid of those boxes with old costumes without sending them to landfills — host a costume exchange party. After all, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

It’s finally time to part ways with your childhood tiara and ghost sheets. Set a date, invite your neighbors and friends and ask them to bring their old costumes. Turn the event into a party. Serve food and drinks, and have people try out costumes and dress up. You can even have a vote on what looks best on whom.

Also, if you have kids, you can host a costume swap party at their school or daycare. Finally, you can always turn to Facebook. Check your neighborhood or town’s Facebook groups, and ask people to post available costumes.

A costume-swapping party is a fun way to get a new costume. And, best of all, it’s completely free.

Halloween Costume exchange party

5. Thrift Shopping

Thrift stores can be treasure vaults of leftover costumes. Make a round around the thrift stores in your city and ask if they have any leftover Halloween costumes.

Or, you don’t even need to buy a pre-made costume. Instead, put your creative skills to use. 

Pick clothes in a thrift store that match the vision for your character for this Halloween. You can find pieces that inspire you to create a whole new costume.

Pro tip new

Pro Tip: Don’t limit yourself to brick-and-mortar thrift shops, but check online as well. For example, check eBay and other second-hand clothing apps. You can even turn to Etsy for Halloween costumes and accessories made by eco-friendly artisans. Finally, check ethical marketplaces for accessories that can make your thrift store costume stand out.

6. DIY Crafting 

This one ties together everything I’ve mentioned above. An epic Halloween costume doesn’t have to be expensive. 

Again, think about pieces you have in your closet, or even jerseys or uniforms from sports teams that could double as a costume. For example, a hockey uniform can work as a hockey player’s costume. All you need is a hockey stick, and the costume is complete.

My tip is to always check Instagram and Pinterest for easy DIY Halloween costumes. Even if you aren’t inspired, see what others are doing and copy them. You’ll be surprised by what household items can be used as a part of a costume.

Masks, headwear pieces, and even jewelry can come from the home. Get some fabric glue, material, sparkles from the local craft store, and you can add embellishments to the costume or create a new accessory.

DIY Halloween Costume

7. Don’t Buy, Rent

Renting a costume is another sustainable Halloween idea. If you or your children have your heart set on being a specific character this Halloween, it’s better to rent than buy it. Not to mention, this is a more budget-friendly option.

Look for costume rentals online and in-store. 

Pro tip new

Pro Tip: Check out costume shops. Most of them offer rental options. This is especially great for children because they’ll outgrow the costume by next year.

8. Get Creative With Makeup and Body Paint

The Hulk. Cruella de Vil. A Skeleton. Catwoman. What do you need for these? Makeup. Makeup can transform you into anyone. 

Once again, Pinterest is your best friend for inspiration. Also, check YouTube for countless Halloween makeup tutorials. 

Stick to something easier if you aren’t that good at makeup. Or, get your friends and do Halloween makeup together. 

Try to make your own body paint instead of buying a new one that you’ll throw out after Halloween. Check YouTube for Halloween body paint recipes, and see what you can make at home without buying new ingredients. Most body paint recipes only need cornstarch, body lotion, water, and food coloring. I bet you already have these in your pantry and bathroom counter. 

Halloween Costume body paint

9. Get a Onesie

If you don’t want to create Halloween costumes or can’t get your friend together to swap costumes, buy a onesie. A onesie can work for Halloween and for relaxing at home year-round.

There are so many onesies available nowadays. You can find everything from koala pajamas to sloth jumpsuits. You’ll look cute on Halloween and later on at home.

10. Choose an Evergreen Costume

Finally, what kind of character you choose can also be eco-friendly. It’s tempting to dress up as the newest superhero or a TV show character that’s currently popular. But, these costume trends will fade by next Halloween season, and you’ll be left with an outdated costume.

Instead, go for evergreen costumes. These are costumes that withstood the test of time and are popular year after year. For example, someone is always a witch, an angel, or a vampire. You can rewear this costume and benefit the planet and your wallet.

Pro tip new

Pro Tip: You can be an advocate fighting against climate change. For example, be a Vampire Energy. This way, you’ll have a timeless costume with an eco-friendly twist.

Raise Awareness With These Eco-Themed Halloween Costumes

If you’re out of ideas for what to dress up as, here are plenty more costume ideas to try!

You can dress as an activist, an endangered animal, or a climate change superhero. This way, you can educate others and raise awareness about why climate change action is important. 

Plus, there are thousands of regular Halloween costumes. With these eco-friendly costume ideas, you’ll be unique and guaranteed to stand out at any Halloween party.

Here are some eco-themed Halloween costumes.

1. Planet Earth

This is one of the easiest and most effective eco-friendly-themed Halloween costumes you can go for. Dress in blue and attach some green paper on the clothes. You can paint melting ice caps and carry a thermometer showing high temperatures.

Or, you can dress as Mother Nature. Carry a thermometer and complain about how hot it is. You can also spritz yourself with water for the extra effect.

2. Eco-Friendly Superhero

Give Supermans and Spidermans a run for their money with a Captain Planet costume. You can even reuse an old Spiderman costume, just cover the S with an image of planet Earth.

Convince your friends to do the same, and go as a group of Planeteers.

Captain Planet and The Planeteers

Image Credit: IMDb

3. Green-Washing

If you’re looking for funny DIY Halloween costumes, green-washing is the answer. Get some green clothes and green body paint for full effect.

Plus, you can carry around a can of green paint and a paintbrush. Make some labels that say “eco-friendly,” “sustainable,” and “made from 3% recycled materials.”

Just don't forget to have a sarcastic attitude!

4. Plastic Ocean Pollution

You’ll need some blue clothes. Simple pants and a shirt are enough. Glue as much waste as you can to the clothes. Stick to plastic waste, such as bottles, bags, cutlery, straws, and more. You don’t want to smell bad after all.

Then, once Halloween is over, you can recycle all the plastic, so this costume is a double-win.

5. Skinny Polar Bear

Skinny, gaunt polar bears became poster children for melting polar ice. You can draw attention to it by becoming a skinny polar bear yourself.

Show off your toned beach body and dress in skimpy white clothes with a polar bear mask. You can also beg for seal meat when you go trick or treating for added effect.

Also, there’s no need to be stick-thin for this costume to work. You can always draw some jutting bones and glue them to your clothes. The effect will be the same.

6. Zombee

A zombie costume is a classic, but you can give it an eco-friendly twist and make a zombee costume. We live in a pesticide-ridden world where bees are dying in droves. So, why not make a zombee costume to drive the point home.

Check your closet for a yellow and black striped top, black pants, or a frilly black skirt. Go to the costume store for some gossamer wings. Finally, add some zombie makeup, and you’ll have the ultimate bee zombee costume.

7. Elon Musk

Elon Musk is the guy who made electric cars cool, so if you need an eco-friendly subject, here’s a great solution for an eco-themed Halloween costume. Plus, you don’t need any special clothes and can shop your own closet.

Get a plain black T-shirt and blue jeans, and you’re ready to go. 

For added effect and to show Musk’s effort to travel to space, you can carry a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And, you get extra points if you come to a Halloween party in a Tesla.

8. Rising Sea Levels

Find a shirt with a picture of a city on it, and make waves out of cardboard. Don’t worry if you aren’t particularly crafty. The waves can be in the shape of the letter C. Attach the waves to the shirt, making sure most of them are at the top of your shirt (around the collar). Voila, you’re a sinking city.

Considering rising sea levels are threatening more than 180 US cities, this is one of the best Halloween costumes for raising awareness.

9. Wildfire

As global temperature rises, wildfire season is lengthening, so this is another of the pressing environmental issues you can point to. Plus, it’s easy to dress as wildfire.

Find some red and orange clothing. Make flames out of cardboard or fabric and attach them to your clothes, and you’re done.

5 Sustainable Halloween Costumes Made From Waste

You can make Halloween costumes that are good for the environment yourself. This way, you can make sure these costumes are made from natural materials and waste and can be reused or recycled, which reduces their impact on the planet.

Plus, if you make sustainable costumes with kids, you’ll teach them about the importance of caring for our planet. 

Here are five of the best green Halloween costumes and how to make them.

1. Mummy

Mummy is a classic Halloween costume. Instead of throwing out old white sheets, tear them into strips, and then wrap yourself or your little one like a mummy. 

Make sure to leave holes for the eyes, nose, and mouth. Use eco-friendly fabric glue or safety pins to secure the strips. You can add some fake blood on the face for added effect. 

You can do the same with old bandages you have lying around. 

Overall, a mummy is a fantastic idea to reuse old sheets or bandages instead of throwing them out.

mummy Halloween Costume from waste

2. Skeleton

We’re continuing with the spooky costumes, so next is the Skeleton costume.

You can find some old black clothes and rewear them. Use eco-friendly, non-toxic dyes to draw the bones. These can be as simple as drawing white lines on the clothes. Or, use white duct tape. 

This is an extremely low-impact costume and one of the easiest you can make.

Skeleton Halloween Costume from waste
Pro tip new

Pro Tip: Get some glow-in-the-dark duct type for the biggest impact.

3. Spiderweb

This is another easy-to-make costume with duct tape. We all have old sweatshirts and leggings on the verge of being thrown out. 

Get white duct tape, a craft knife, and a cutting mat. Cut the tape into thin strips. 

Pick a center point where you want the web to begin, and run long strips from this center in a sunray pattern. Work all around the center point. Then, cut shorter pieces and connect each ray to create a center circle. Go downwards until the web is finished.

Get plastic or rubber spiders at the dollar store and attach them to the web for extra effect.

Pro tip new

Pro Tip: Lift each strip with the tip of the knife for easy removal.

4. Frankenstein 

Frankenstein is an evergreen spooky costume you can make with waste and recyclable materials. This is a great way to reuse cardboard and tissue boxes. You’ll also need black pants, a jacket, and a purple shirt. Check if you already have any of these, or visit a thrift store.

Here’s how to make a Frankenstein costume:

  1. Cut the pants, so there are ragged edges. 
  2. Make patches with green and purple duct tape and use safety pins to attach them to the jacket and pants.
  3. Shred a purple shirt and layer it with a green shirt underneath.
  4. Use a green cardboard box, or paint it green. Paint black pointed hair on top and cut squares big enough for the face
  5. Wrap two tissue boxes with purple duct tape and use them as shoe covers.

5. Snail

A snail costume is a great way to reuse old waste bags instead of throwing them out. This costume can work for both a child and a pet. You’ll need 5-yard waste bags, a headband, tape, or glue.

Start by making the shell. Crumple up waste bags, and roll them. When you have enough rolled bags, wrap them into a shell and tape to hold in place. 

Use small cardboard and tie the ribbon to it. This way, you’ll have a backpack, and the shell won’t fall off the back, even if you have a very lively pet.

Finally, make the headband. Use a section of brown paper. Crumple it and roll until it’s stiff to stand on its own. Then add Styrofoam to the ends of rolled brown paper. Use eco-friendly hot melt to attach it to both ends instead of hot glue. Voila, your snail costume is ready.

Choose a Sustainable Costume This Halloween

Halloween is a spooky time of the year during which you can let your imagination run free. But don’t forget about being eco-friendly. A Halloween costume swap can save money and help the environment. Shop your own closet and household items for costumes and accessories, and tie everything up with face paint.

Or, you can make your own sustainable Halloween costumes. Stick to recyclable materials such as fabrics and cardboard. Use non-toxic paints and hot glue. Sustainably themed costumes are an excellent way to be creative and raise awareness in others.

Finally, have fun! After all, Halloween is all about eating candy, spending time with friends, and playing dress-up. Let’s do it responsibly this year, so our planet can enjoy the holiday too.


Marina is passionate about sustainability and works to help ensure our planet stays as our home for a long time. She takes part in environmental conservation by recycling and not buying single-use plastic. When not writing, she can be found with her nose stuck in a book or trying out new baking recipes.

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