My kids have had their Halloween costumes planned for months (Kid 1 is Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon, Kid 2 is a shark). Usually I commission my mom to hand-sew their costumes, but this year she just didn’t have the time, so this year their costumes are store-bought. Unfortunately, as is common with store-bought costumes, they are made with all sorts of non-recyclable, unsustainable materials.
I’m hoping to balance out this bad environmental karma by making the most of these costumes and greening other parts of the holiday. I’ll make sure the costumes stay in good condition so that next year we can trade or donate them to someone else. We’ll either upcycle a shopping bag to use as their treat bags, or I’ll buy a cute reusable treat bag that they can use for years to come (I love the ones from Chicobag). And I’ll make sure that my own Halloween costume has a message.
If you’re still looking for a costume for trick-or-treating or a costume party, make an environmental statement with one of these ideas!
- Global Warming: Dress in blue and pin green continent shapes (made of construction paper, felt, or fabric) to your clothes. Carry around a fan and a handkerchief to mop your sweaty brow, and keep complaining about how hot it’s getting.
- Vampire Energy: Find a vampire cape at a thrift store or borrow one from a friend. Slick back your hair, wear vampire fangs, and drape some electrical cords or handheld device chargers around your shoulders or waist. If anyone’s confused about your costume, it’s a great chance to educate them about energy vampires — electrical devices that continue to draw energy when they’re plugged in, even when they’re turned off.
- Captain Planet: Created by Ted Turner in the early 1990s, Captain Planet helped educate kids about the importance of taking care of the environment. Your costume can be as simple as making a T-shirt with the superheros’ icon, a yellow grid-covered globe, or as elaborate as coloring your skin blue, your hair green, and wearing a red superhero suit.
- Mother Nature: Wear earth-colored clothes and gather some natural materials like leaves, vines, pinecones, and flowers to make a wreath or necklace. Check out Pinterest for some great ideas for makeup, hairstyles, or clothing you can create. It’s a particularly good costume for pregnant women.
- Glacier of the Future: This is a simple costume: just dress all in blue and carry around a glass of water. Tell everyone it’s a glacier — it’s a sobering reminder of how global warming is causing glaciers to melt.
- Greenwashing: This clever costume is easy to put together and will strike up conversations wherever you go! Dress all in green and carry some cleaning supplies with you: a sponge and a bucket, for instance, or a scrub brush. It’s a funny way to caution people not to get fooled by greenwashing, a company or brand’s way of making it seem more environmentally responsible than it actually is.
- The Lorax: Put on an orange shirt and make this cute mask to wear (you can cut up a cereal box and paint it), and you’re the Lorax, the protagonist of Dr. Seuss’ 1971 book that was a wake-up call about destroying and polluting natural resources.