Halloween can be a great deal of fun, but unfortunately it’s also a wasteful holiday. In addition to the plastic waste from the whopping 598 million pounds of candy bought for the holiday, 85% of textiles in the U.S. will end up in a landfill. That huge figure comes from the fact that it’s not always as convenient to recycle clothes and other fabrics, especially when accounting for the rate of clothing consumption.
Many people are not as motivated to recycle cloth because they can’t just throw those unwanted articles in the recycling bin and must instead lug their pounds of fabric waste to a clothing collection bin or thrift store. Worse, the National Retail Federation expects consumers to spend $2.5 billion on costumes this year, many of which will be tossed. By recycling everyday materials to make your costume, you can avoid a trashy store-bought tragedy and reduce your waste this Halloween.
— Use what you have: One of the best ways to avoid waste is to use the wardrobe and items you already have to make your costume. You never know how many costume components you already have until you look and some things can be repurposed.
— Get crafty: The possibilities of cardboard and paper are endless. The Cardboard Collective has tutorials for a mustache, a beard, a hat and even a wig. With some scissors, basic art supplies and a bit of craftiness, you can be a knight, a crocodile or a unicorn using only recyclable materials. Add a little paint and you'll have even more options, or keep it simple with these cute paper emoji masks.
— Trash to (Halloween) treasure: Another great option is to reuse what you already have as waste. Do you have a broken umbrella? This cute bat costume uses a black outfit from your closet and an umbrella. If you don’t have a sacrificial umbrella, you can opt to get a clear one and make a jellyfish costume. The idea is to attach fabric, streamers, yarn or bubble wrap to a clear or white umbrella and twirl your way to deep sea glory.
— Schedule a costume swap: If you don’t want to make your costume, consider taking out some old costumes and swapping with your friends. Just remember that if you end up throwing a costume away, it will join the sad pile of waste at the dump. If you do buy a costume this year, make sure you find some way to reuse it, or donate it after the holiday.