Halloween has become one of the least eco friendly celebrations of the year, mostly because of how many plastic decorations and costumes we purchase and throw away. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Making and wearing a Halloween costume is a great opportunity for recycling, putting household waste to good use, saving money and allowing you and your family to have fun and get creative.
Here are some ideas on how you can avoid spending money on a brand new Halloween costume by using recycled clothes and materials instead.
Cardboard and paper
There’s surprisingly little that you can’t make with a few sheets of cardboard and paper. Fold it, roll it, scrunch it up or draw on it, these versatile materials can be found around any home and are a great basic material for making your costume. Cardboard is the perfect material for making masks, and boxes make great building blocks for some unique costumes including robots, animals, and even inanimate objects like phone boxes and Rubik’s cubes!
The great thing about using paper and cardboard is that almost anything will do. Cereal boxes, newspaper and old telephone directories can all be used to build a base for your costume. Once you’ve finished with it, you can find another use for it around the home, add it to your compost heap or recycle it through your usual kerbside collection scheme, meaning zero waste!
Tin foil is a versatile material found in almost every household, and is perfect for eco friendly Halloween costumes. Layer sheets or scrunch up balls of it to create metallic textures and patterns on your costume. Tin foil is great for adding authenticity to suits of armour, sparkly witch’s hats, aliens, robots and many more. Tin foil can often be used again in future costumes, or recycled easily.
Old clothing is ideal for eco friendly Halloween costumes- usually the more worn out the better! Old, worn or tattered clothes make great zombie or monster costumes and it doesn’t matter if they get dirty or damaged. If your wardrobe is full of outdated outfits, resurrect them by dressing from a bygone era. Hippies, 70s disco or 50s rock ‘n’ roll are all popular themes at Halloween, or for any other fancy dress opportunity for that matter! Charity shops can also be goldmines for clothes from different eras, so pay one a visit if you need inspiration for your costume. Buying from charity shops brings new life to old clothes, helping to keep them out of the waste stream. When you finish with your Halloween costume, you can always donate it to a charity shop so that someone else can make use of it.
Scrap material, old sheets or unused pillow cases, even towels and curtains can all be turned into amazing eco friendly Halloween costumes. The sheet-over-the-head ghost is one of the most basic outfits possible, and can still provide a scare or two. Look around for offcuts of fabric which can add texture and decoration to your outfit, as well as being turned into period clothing with just a few stitches. Costumes which can be made easily using old fabric include togas, Egyptian mummy outfits, ghosts and all kinds of animals. Your fabric might be old, but it is usually long-lasting, so one costume can be kept and altered for use the following year to reduce waste.
Try costume swapping
If the materials you’ve collected from around your home still aren’t inspiring you for Halloween, why not try and find a whole new costume for free by holding a costume swapping event? If you and a large enough group of your friends, neighbours and relatives are planning Halloween festivities this year, a costume-swapping event could be a great way for you to get rid of unwanted outfits or costumes the kids have grown out of, and find something new and suitable for this year’s celebrations. Costume swapping is an easy way to bag yourself an almost-new fancy dress costume without spending money, and preventing waste in the process. It’s also an opportunity for a fun and silly evening of dressing up, making it a social event which could be just as fun Halloween itself!
Halloween make up
On Halloween, the most effective and memorable costumes are often the ones teamed up with elaborate make up or fake blood. But most commercially available make up products are cheaply made and contain ingredients which are far from skin-friendly. A more skin nourishing face paint can be made by mixing a tablespoon of your usual facial moisturiser, a tablespoon of cornflour and a tablespoon of water with a couple of drops of natural food colouring. This is perfect for green witches and monsters and red demons. To achieve authentic fake blood, mix one part water with three parts golden syrup. Then add natural food colourings. You’ll need to experiment with reds, yellows and greens to achieve the most authentic shade, but DIY blood is cheap, versatile and completely safe to use.
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