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The Best 2021 Halloween Costumes for a Sustainable Scare

As the witching hour of Halloween approaches, it’s time to start planning your look well in advance before all the good ones run out. But before you get a jump start on your spooky shopping spree, you might want to consider taking a more conscious approach and opt for a green Halloween this season instead.

Key Takeaways: The frightening truth

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, U.S. consumer spending on Halloween-related items is expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion this year, up from $8.05 billion in 2020. The survey added that plans to celebrate Halloween are up this year compared with last and are close to pre-pandemic levels — which comes as no surprise given the enormous pandemic-induced downtime. However, it should be noted that most Halloween costumes are made from low-quality synthetic materials like polyester, which are derived from non-biodegradable, oil-based plastics. These materials contribute to the rise of microplastics in our oceans, making the holiday quite scary in more ways than one. 

Upon testing Halloween consumer products for toxicity, an Ecology Center in Michigan discovered that most of them contained phthalates, lead, and brominated flame retardants. Most of the items tested were sold at well-known retailers in the U.S. like CVS, Target, and Walmart. Some of them also contained bits of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), that can leak toxins into the environment when they end up in landfills — in fact, a report found that 85% of Halloween costumes end up at landfills. Club that with the single-use plastic packaging these costumes are usually packed in, that’s a lot of exposure to toxic materials just for one night’s worth of wear. 

Have yourself a green Halloween

Before you throw your hands up in despair and surrender to a store-bought, take a minute and remind yourself: You are not obligated to drop $100 on a polyester nurse outfit that you’ll never wear again. Not only will the environment thank you for it, but it’s also a great way to get creative with your costume. Ahead, we provide you with some eco-friendly costume inspiration with easily available pieces that could be found in your own wardrobe (or a friend’s) to help you plan ahead for your most sustainable Halloween look yet.

1. Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala look

One of the most meme-worthy looks this year, Kim K’s Met gala look is nothing short of spooky with all the makings of a high fashion grim reaper. The best part about this look is that it’s easy to put together with pieces from your own closet; all you need is an oversized black t-shirt or a worn-out LBD, some black tights and a pair of black pumps. Now all you have to do is wear it all and get ready to make some memes of your own.

2. Bernie Sanders Mittens

Yet another heavyweight contender in the meme-worthy category, Bernie Sanders’ recycled mittens lit up the Internet in January at the presidential inauguration. Make the look yours by wearing a mask with a utilitarian jacket, and knitted mittens. Plus points if you carry a folding chair around with you to do his signature seated stance.

3. Trinity or Neo from the Matrix

What better way to pay homage to this iconic 90s sci-fi hit than with an all-black look that also happens to be big on style. Go for head-to-toe black separates, a trench coat, and finish your look with a pair of tiny sunglasses and you’ll be ready to enter the matrix in no time.

If you’d like more options for an eco-friendly Halloween then we suggest going big on makeup and keeping your costume simple with items from within your own closet. There are a ton of YouTube tutorials that offer guided makeup tutorials on wearing a spooky look.

For more information on just how bad single-use synthetic clothes or costumes can be, read our pieces on:

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2021-10-03

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