Fashion for the Earth

6 tips to create a sustainable costume this Halloween

What do a witch, a cat, and Superman have in common? They are all costumes you might see when trick-or-treating this Halloween.

Once a year, we have the chance to transform ourselves into characters from our wildest dreams. There is a sense of excitement in the air when we can become something we’re not, just by donning a costume.

But therein lies the problem. Once November 1 hits, we throw the costumes in the back of our closet, where they are never to be seen again. This has a huge environmental impact.

Every year, we throw out 40 million tons of textiles — including used costumes. They end up in landfills where they pollute the air. 

Even the process of making a costume requires a tremendous amount of resources. We cut down 150 million trees each year just to make fabrics. One cotton t-shirt takes nearly 3,000 liters of water to produce. Don’t even get me started on the polyester onesie costume aisle.

The good news is that you can still look cute this Halloween without as much of an environmental impact. If you’re still struggling to put your costume together this year, here are some ideas to create a fun — and sustainable — costume. 

1. Do a costume swap

It’s time to part ways with your dusty ghost sheet and princess tiara. Plan a Halloween swap with your friends or neighbors to exchange last year’s costume for a new outfit. You’ll never know what new accessories you’ll find! 

The best part? It’s free.

2. Use clothes you already have

Instead of throwing out the clothes in the back of your closet, come up with new ways to style them to look like your favorite movie character or spooky spirit. Just add some makeup or accessories, and you’ll regret ever thinking about tossing your clothes in the trash. You might be the best dressed at the party!

3. Thrift a costume

Halloween is the perfect time to put your creativity skills to use. Instead of buying a pre-made costume and looking identical to the trick-or-treaters down the street, head to the thrift store. 

Pick a character idea and find clothes that match your vision or challenge yourself to use the pieces you find to inspire an entirely new costume. One person’s trash is another one’s treasure!

4. Upcycle, upcycle, upcycle

Upcycling is the process of changing an undesirable object into something of greater value. Learning simple sewing skills can help you transform drab pieces into works of art — or terrifying disguises.

You can do this by altering clothes from the thrift store that were a bit too big or gathering art materials from around the house to add unique embellishments to your costume. Snap a picture to share your upcycled masterpiece with the world!

5. Make a trick-or-treat bag

We all know the feeling of having to lug around a huge bag after a long, hard day of candy collecting. We also know the satisfaction of emptying out the bag to claim our prizes: mouth-watering chocolates, lollipops, caramels, and more.

Instead of buying a plastic pumpkin to hold your treats, look around you for household items that can double as candy bags. For an option with a lot of storage, use a pillowcase. For a more functional idea, use a reusable shopping bag.

6. Dress up as your environmental hero

Still out of ideas for what to dress up as? Turn yourself into an environmental hero! 

Dress up as your favorite activist, endangered animal, or even a made-up superhero who fights climate change. When someone asks about your costume, explain the meaning behind your character and why action on climate change is important to you. Tell them how they can make a sustainable costume, too!

Reduce your textile waste, one costume at a time

This Halloween, you can reduce your textile waste, one costume at a time. All it takes is a little curiosity and creativity to get started. Once you’ve picked out your costume, get yourself into the holiday spirit with five of the scariest, most bone-chilling facts about climate change.

If you really want to practice what you preach after Halloween, show your support to enact change in the fashion industry and check out our Sustainable Fashion Campaign for more information.