A Halloween Story

Boo! Did I scare you? Probably not. But once you hear about the environmental and human impact of the typical Halloween costume, you’ll be horrified. According to the National Retail Federation, 179 million Americans will participate in Halloween activities this year. That said, consumers are expected to spend around $3.4 billion on costumes alone. And, odds are you’re one of them.

We typically buy Halloween costumes to wear one time on October 31st. For this reason, these costumes usually are made from cheap materials and flimsy fabrics. These costumes are meant to be mass-produced and quickly distributed. By their nature, Halloween costumes are not meant to be sustainable.

The costumes’ cheap materials often negatively impact the environment. One of the most common materials used in mass-produced costumes is polyester. Polyester is made from synthetic polymers that are harmful to the environment and your skin. Not only that, producing millions of new costumes every year uses a countless amount of resources and produces tons of carbon dioxides into the atmosphere.

Additionally, after October 31st, where do all those costumes go? More often than not, they end up in the trash and eventually a landfill. If everyone threw away their costumes each year, that would be $3.4 billion worth of garments added to landfills just because of Halloween.

Aside from the environmental impact, you can only imagine from where these cheap costumes are coming. You guessed it—factories in places like Bangladesh, China and India. So, what can you do to improve your ethical footprint this Halloween? Below you’ll find some helpful tips and tricks to have a very happy and ethical holiday:

  1. Go Consignment Shopping for Your Costume

Consignment shopping can be your best friend during the Halloween season. I mean, what better place to find an outfit that looks like it’s from a different era than a consignment store? Another perk is the price tag. Typical Halloween costumes from stores like Party City can be absurdly expensive so that they can capitalize on the supply and demand of the season. Consignment stores are significantly less expensive and sometimes you can even wear what you find again in real life. But, the best part? By shopping at a consignment store you support the movement to reuse and recycle clothes instead of the $3.4 billion Halloween costume industry.

  1. Use What You Already Have

I’m pretty sure that if you look through your closet (or your roommate’s) hard enough you will find a costume waiting to be put together. This option is great because you don’t have to purchase anything else. If you don’t have an obvious costume waiting for you in your closet you may want to look in your makeup bag for inspiration. You can make any outfit the perfect costume with the right makeup. And, if all else fails, there’s no shame in wearing all black with a pair of cat ears.

  1. Swap Costumes with a Friend

Fortunately, there’s a good chance that you and your friends haven’t thrown out every costume you’ve ever owned.  So, instead of going shopping at Party City, go “shopping” in each other’s closets! This prevents you from throwing that costume into a landfill for at least one year, gives you something new to wear, and it’s free! That’s a win-win-win in my book.

-Kate Hornberger

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