Recycle & Reuse: Low-waste, easy costumes for Halloween

Contributed photo

One of Amy Hartline's past costumes, Inspector Gadget, was made entirely with items she owned and an inexpensive tube bought from a hardware store. Though the tube was new it became part of a home project after Halloween was done, making it a complete zero-waste costume.

Why not wear something completely unique this Halloween?

It can seem like it would be easier to run to the store and buy another cheaply made costume for $40, but it can lead to a lot of stress —from the crowd inside hurrying to find their own costume, to making sure it fits correctly, to seeing if it’s warm enough for Halloween night. Using items and clothing you already have can help you avoid some of those uncertainties and make sure no one at the Halloween party is dressed just like you.

Recycle & Reuse: Low-waste, easy costumes for Halloween

Amy Hartline

Creating your own costume can also dramatically help reduce the waste of Halloween. An estimated extra 2,000 tons of waste is created during Halloween. This waste is produced by a combination of food wrappers, decorations and, largely, the number of costumes sold that are then only used once.

Some do-it-yourself costumes can require more arts and crafts experience, but many costume ideas don’t require you to do any crafting and only need you to put the right items together. There are three easy styles of costumes to help you brainstorm what to be on Oct. 31: “punny” costumes, last-minute and crafty.

“Punny” costumes tend to embrace word play to create a costume that also gets people chuckling. For example, if you have a leftover animal costume from a past year, use elements of that costume and don a party hat and party outfit to become a “party animal” or put on your fanciest dress and use painter’s tape or safety pins to attach pictures of planets and stars to it and create a sash to wear claiming you as “Miss Universe.” Become a “breadwinner” by putting on a medal and carrying a loaf of bread through the party, then you can even use part of your costume for lunches the next week!

DIY costumes shine when it comes to creating last-minute outfits. Throw on a pair of shorts, a hat and a Hawaiian shirt and carry a camera or brochure to become a tourist. If you own a black and white-striped shirt and black pants, you can buy some inexpensive white and black makeup to become a mime. Still got a few dated pieces in the back of your closest? Consider going all out in the '70s, '80s or '90s gear for your costume. People will love partying with a blast from the past.

Crafty costumes can still be easy, but with a little more work than some of the others. Create a tulle skirt and use combine it with a pair of fairy wings and then glue on travel size toothpaste tubes to become a tooth fairy and then you can use those tubes through the next month to keep away cavities. Head to outer space by using one long cardboard box spraypainted silver. Cut out two holes for your arms and a hole to act as a window of your very own spaceship. Finish it off by cutting the front flap into a triangle and using duct tape to keep it up right and to create two straps in the back to stick your arms through. For extra color, affix red and yellow streamers to the bottom to back as the fiery blast.

If you combine saving resources in your Halloween costume with the free Rubicon Trick or Trash program, you will be making a huge dent in the amount of trash produced this month. With this program, Rubicon will mail you a cardboard box to collect your candy wrappers in. At the end of the season you can mail all of those wrappers back to be recycled. Just sign up at https://www.rubicon.com/trick-or-trash to get your box.

Americans buy $3.4 billion worth of costumes each Halloween. By taking yourself out of that equation you can save money, keep your closet clean and help limit our waste. With a little bit of forward thinking, you can create a green Halloween plan that will keep the guilt away but the treats coming.

Amy Hartline is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Have a recycling question? Contact her at (706) 278-5001 or at ahartline@dwswa.org.

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