Sustainable Halloween Costumes That Do Not Suck

Posted on October 23rd 2020

Sustainable Halloween Costumes That Do Not Suck

October 23rd 2020

If you're anything like myself, once the clock strikes midnight on October 1st—you are in full-on spook mode. The disdain and boredom of holiday-less, heat-filled summers have finally come to an end, and “This Is Halloween” rings in my head for the next 31 days. 

I'm as much of a Halloween fanatic as the next gal. My thoughts become consumed with themed outfits and home decorations. Every year, I strive to top my costume from the one before.

The Scariest Part of Halloween

The most horrific part of this holiday is perhaps not the ghouls, the haunted houses, or even the scary masks. The modern exploitation and wasteful consumption tied to Halloween costumes are far more terrifying than any mythical legend. 

Our first instinct when costume shopping is to go out and find something new. Yet, the familiar go-to packaged costumes literally reek of cheap, environmentally-destructive, and life-threatening materials. Not only that, but the Halloween costumes and decor (along with many consumer goods) are produced in less than desirable labor conditions. In 2013, along with her K-Mart tombstone, Julie Kieth received a letter written by the producers of the product.

"If you occasionally (sic) buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here... will thank and remember you forever."

The letter came from Masanjia Labor Camp in China and went on to the detail long work hours, physical and verbal abuse, and torture that inmates were subjected to while making the products. 

The inherent waste associated with Halloween Costumes also not be ignored. Most of us feel pressure to find a new costume year, and forget the old one in a closet somewhere, or just throw it out completely.

Now for the fun part

This is all not to say that we should do away with the tradition altogether. Halloween offers an opportunity to be creative, come together, have fun, and consume outrageous amounts of candy. There are plenty of alternatives to packaged costumes that are fun and sustainable (and a whole lot cooler).

  1. Rental: For those of us that still want a turn-key outfit, this is the way to go. A rental will run you anywhere from $35 to $150, depending on the costume. But, the cost shows. The costumes are extremely high-quality, detailed, and ready for any festivities.
  2. DIY: This one is my personal favorite. Making your own costume allows you to be as creative as possible. Any weird-wacky character you think of can be manifested through some rummaging of the closet, and a few trips to the thrift store. DIY'ing is also a great option at any effort level, whether you plan a month in advance, or need something last minute. Need something specific? Check online thrift stores like Depop and Poshmark! Anything you need can get to you in about a week.
  3. Second-hand Costumes: Borrowing or thrifting complete costumes is a best-case scenario for anyone who needs something last-minute, sustainable, and easy. Any thrift store in October will have racks of used costumes. My friends have a rotating costume circle at the moment, and I would highly recommend trying one! It's just like clothes swapping with some spooky flare.