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Nothing says Halloween like the perfect costume. Children may spend months thinking about what they will wear and how they can bring their favorite characters from movies, comics and books to life.
Billions of dollars are spent each year on Halloween costumes, advises the National Retail Federation. Many of these costumes are worn just once. The environmental group Recycle Nation states that Halloween costumes are often made with low-value materials like petroleum-based polyester and a mix of other materials. Financially savvy environmentalists may lament that Halloween costumes can be wasteful and potentially harmful to the environment. Recycling and reusing these garments can quell such concerns.
Use recycled materials
Pinterest is awash with ideas for turning different materials into homemade Halloween costumes. With a little creativity, boxes, paper bags, plastic water bottles, and more can be upcycled into costumes at little or no cost. Afterwards, costumes can be broken down and individual parts can be recycled.
Parents also can look for items around the house that potentially can be used to make costumes. An apron and a whisk is the perfect representation of a pastry chef. Wearing a pair of overalls and holding a hammer can signify a construction worker.
Swap and share costumes
Another way to get more mileage out of costumes is to swap them with other people. This way another family can benefit, and the costume will not end up in the garbage after a single use.
Consider turning the idea into a fundraiser for a school or sports organization. People can donate their costumes to the cause, and then others can shop the selection and pay a $5 donation for a costume. The school or organization keeps the proceeds, and kids get gently used costumes.
Recycle where applicable
Petroleum-based Halloween costumes that go into landfills will sit there a long time. Choosing costumes made from natural materials can help prevent this problem.
Clothing and textiles are notoriously hard to recycle, but some items on costumes may be recycled into new things. Theater groups perhaps can use pieces of old costumes to create wardrobes for their productions. Or children can use items for pretend play. Crafters with a creative eye may take apart pieces of costumes and turn them into artwork or home decor.
Sell older costumes
Try selling a costume through an online site like Craigslist. Many people are happy to get a discount on costumes that are in good shape. Otherwise, work with a thrift shop or consignment store. Costumes may bring in foot traffic for these retailers, and they'll be happy to take costumes in good condition prior to the Halloween season. Accessories like tiaras, swords, hats, and cloaks also can be sold or swapped.
Halloween costumes are easy to enjoy, and those who want to think a little greener can find new ways to get more use out of costumes.