Why Halloween Costumes are Scarier Than You Think
October 28, 2017 • 2 min read
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It’s that time of year again – where we procrastinate like crazy on getting Halloween costumes together, and then end up buying a pre-packaged something last minute. While this isn’t great for our wallets or anxiety levels, (and definitely won’t win us any prizes for best costume) it’s even worse for our humble home, the Earth.
Here are some spooky stats that we’d like to share with you:
The Halloween costume industry is worth billions of dollars a year. This means that $3.4 billion dollars are spent on around 88 million brand new costumes, every Halloween. Most people aren’t too attached to their ghostly garbs, so when November 1st rolls around, into the trash those costumes go, generating around 33 million pounds of landfill waste. That’s so not ghoul!
The costumes that come in those convenient packages are usually made from super cheap materials. The polyester that is used in these costumes is usually brightly coloured. The dyes used to create these vibrant colours are made from toxic chemicals and petroleum. Not only do manufactures irresponsibly dump these chemicals, contaminating nearby water sources, but the polyester itself can take up to 200 years to decompose! So, your one night of boos costs the environment centuries of chemical leaching.
Halloween costumes commonly include masks and face paint. Buying plastic masks and cheap paint from party stores isn’t just bad for the environment, but it’s not so great for your skin either. A lot of these masks are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which can leach toxic chemicals like phthalates, a known hormone disrupter. Many of the paints contain lead and cadmium, harmful heavy metals that are known neurotoxins which can stay in our systems for a long time. Your scary mask is more horrifying than you thought!
Now that we’ve succeeded in freaking you out, here are some ways to have a more sustainable and clean Halloween:
1. Repurpose Old Clothes: Your first shopping stop should be your wardrobe. This doubles as Halloween costume-sourcing and closet-cleaning! Go through old clothes you no longer wear and see what you can put together for your costume. Shopping in a friend’s wardrobe also counts.
2. Second Hand Shop: Next, shop second hand! Hit up a thrift store to find your costume. You can give pre-loved clothes a second life, and save some money too. Often times, people have donated old ready-to-wear costumes that you can grab for yourself, knowing that they most likely have only been worn once.
3. Host a Costume Swap: Before the big event, have your friends over and ask them to bring any costumes they already have. You can swap gently-used costumes. Bonus points for inviting guests not everyone knows – you can make a new friend and be sure that no one at your party will have seen your new costume before.
4. Use Environment-Friendly Materials: If your costume requires props, accessories or a unique aspect, source eco-friendly materials to make this. Use recycled paper, twine, cork, cardboard from old boxes, shoeboxes, parts from hangers, and anything you might have lying around the house. Choose cloth, like 100% cotton or linen over synthetic materials. Be sure to recycle all paper parts of your costume when the night is over!
5. Bed Sheets and Linens: Remember the days when Halloween costumes were as simple as a draped bed sheet with two holes cut out to make a ghost? You can still do this! Use old bed sheets or linens and get creative. Some ideas include making a toga for a Greek god/goddess, cutting up and wrapping strips around you for a mummy, or tying fabric around your neck as a cape.
6. Go Simple: Avoid using nasty chemical-laden paints and plastics on your body, and opt for natural materials instead. Go simple on the makeup, and don’t buy accessories that you’ll only use once. You can either make them, or skip them. Masks, wigs, and any other cheaply made accessories should be avoided.
Click here to read how to make Halloween sustainable, from decor to candy. Here’s to creeping it real this Halloween!
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