What’s the biggest fright to chill you to the bone this Halloween? Plastic waste equivalent to about 83 million plastic bottles going to landfill? Sustainable fashion is a growing movement, but holidays like Halloween lag behind.
The Frightful Cost of Halloween on Sustainable Fashion
An investigation, by environmentalist charity Hubbub, found that an estimated 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste is expected to be generated this Halloween from throwaway costumes.
Working with Fairyland Trust, a family nature charity, an investigation of costumes available from 19 supermarkets and retailers – including ASOS, Amazon, John Lewis, and Tesco – found that 83% of the material used was polluting oil-based plastic likely to end up in a landfill.
And the most common plastic polymer found in the tested clothing was polyester, making up 69 per cent of the total of all materials. Polyester is a damaging material in our everyday clothing as well as Halloween, but at least fast fashion can hope to be worn more than once. Sustainable fashion needs to find an alternative to these damaging Halloween costumes.
“The scariest thing about Halloween is now plastic. More costumes are being bought each year as the number of people participating in Halloween increases,” Chris Rose, from Fairyland Trust.
“Research by Hubbub estimated that 33 million people dressed up for Halloween in 2017 and a shocking four in 10 costumes were worn only once. This means it’s vital that we all try and choose costumes that are as environmentally friendly as possible.”
“Concerned consumers can take personal action to avoid buying new plastic and still dress up for Halloween by buying from charity shops or reusing costumes to create outfits, or making their own from non-plastic materials.”
Trewin Restorick, chief executive of Hubbub, said: “The amount of plastic waste from Halloween costumes is similar to the weight of plastic waste generated at Easter in egg-wrappings.
“However, the total plastic waste footprint of Halloween will be even higher once you take into account other Halloween plastic such as party kits and decorations, much of which are also plastic, or Halloween food packaging, most of which quickly becomes rubbish and, ultimately, breaks down to be plastic pollution.
“Retailers must take greater responsibility to offer ranges for seasonal celebrations that don’t worsen the already worrying impact of plastic waste on our planet.”
Paula Chin, sustainable materials specialist at WWF, said: “There is nothing scarier than our throwaway culture.
“By reducing the amount of plastic we buy, embracing reusable items and taking responsibility for our waste, we can make sure Halloween is suitably spooky and sustainable.”
Can Halloween Costumes Be Sustainable?
The Costume Rag makes money by recommending costumes to buy online. While we have a focus on the crafts of cosplay and sewing, we certainly do find the majority of our revenue comes from Halloween costumes. This forces us to consider our role in this costly tradition.
Unfortunately, there seem to be vary few made from sustainable natural materials. Therefore it is important that if you do buy polyester, then buy something that is good quality and will last and treat it with respect rather than just throwing it away.
Don’t Buy Cheap Halloween Costumes
You don’t have to stop buying costumes necessarily, but buying a new one every year is undoubtedly wasteful and against sustainable fashion. Instead of spending a small amount on cheap Halloween costumes regularly, invest wisely and buy something to last. Even just spending $50 rather than $20 is likely to yield a big increase in quality. Getting something that was made as a screen-accurate cosplay costume for conventions will be the ultimate combination of looking great with lasting quality.
Look at the construction of a Halloween costume and consider if it’s going to last more than one night. Has it actually been sewn together or is most of it glued? Does it look structured or has it been made to arrive stuffed in a plastic bag?
Recycle Old Costumes
If you’ve worn a Halloween costume out the good news is that Halloween offers the perfect chance to break down your costume into more of a zombie costume. Here’s some tips on how to break down costumes for maximum effect.
Use Sustainable Fashion Clothes You Already Have
Repurposing clothes you already own is ideal, especially if they’re worn out and can make a great zombie costume. All that takes is some fake blood. You could be a corporate zombie in a suit or a more Twilight-style vampire in plain dark clothes. For any Halloween costume consider if you can put something together from various accessories you might wear again casually – like a black coat or white shirt.
Use Quality Halloween Makeup
Rather than buying a container of face paint that rubs off after an hour, look for the many brands that bring out high quality cosmetics with a Halloween twist. This can be paler foundations, sparkly eye shadows and darker lipsticks. They’re all great quality products that you can use everyday – or just keep for next year.
Buy Handmade Halloween Costumes
Now just because a Halloween costume is handmade doesn’t mean it’s going to be less damaging. But it is more likely that someone who is willing to spend hours crafting a beautiful piece isn’t going to scrimp with cheap synthetic materials. The final piece is more likely to last as a quality cosplay costume. Plus you’re more likely to find a maker local to you to save on shipping from abroad. Find a handmade costume now on Etsy and it may even be made to measure, so you will look amazing!