My friend Molly loves dressing up for Halloween, but just recently started her zero waste journey – here’s how she’s going to keep her costume zero waste (and how you can too!). – Lauren

This is the first Halloween I’ve prepared for on my blossoming zero waste journey, and when looking through the lens of sustainability – sexy construction worker costumes aside – Halloween is pretty damn trashy. Literally.  

On average Americans buy $3.4 billion worth of costumes every year. And let’s be honest, most people just end up throwing their costumes out once November 1st rolls around. Talk about wasteful.

So how does a costume-loving human get through this holiday? Here’s what I’d suggest.

See what you already have in your closet

Photo credit Natasha Garoosi

Our first instinct when thinking about a Halloween costume is that we have to go out and get something new, but chances are you’ve probably got some of the building blocks of an amazing costume already in your closet like these:

A fortune teller Photo sourceBeatnik Photo source

Shop secondhand

Photo credit Natasha Garoosi

One trip to a thrift store and chances are you’ll be able to pull together an amazing costume. Stick to costumes where each individual piece isn’t anything too specific, but combined together, or added to items you already own, create the full look.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Avoid costumes that require face paint or plastic accessories

Face paint most of the time comes in plastic packaging and contains junky ingredients you don’t want anywhere near your gorgeous face. Also don’t choose a costume that requires you to buy a bunch of accessories that you’ll never wear or use again, that is unless you truly wear a Khaleesi wig on the regular. More power to you. 

Make props from natural or recyclable materials

If you do have aspects of your costume that you need to make, stick to using natural materials that you or a friend already have laying around or that could be purchased package free from a craft store – a la carte colored paper (not the kind that comes in a stack wrapped in plastic), twine, safety or clothes pins.

Recycle any paper costume items after you’ve used them, and hold on to items like safety pins that will definitely be used down the line for future wardrobe malfunctions and pimple popping emergencies (don’t act like you don’t).

We want to see how creative you can get with your zero waste costumes!  Show us what you came up with by tagging @TrashisforTossers in your social posts and stories, and hash tagging #zerowastehalloween.





  1. Once again, thanks for this, Lauren! Using fallen tree leaves can be a great idea to create a crown, cover a tshirt or a cape and represent a magic creature of the forest! 😁 do you know of a zero waste eco friendly glue?

    1. I love this idea, thanks! I have heard of a plastic free almond scented Italian glue that is supposed to work, but since I have never used it, I can’t vouch for it.

  2. For me and my husband was very simple… we check the closet an bum, black hats, black trousers and a striped t-shirt: a couple of burglars. Use an old shoe box to make the “props”.

    We are not zero waste yet, that’s the main goal, but we set our first goal to be zero plastic for a year… Already planning a zero plastic and sustainable Christmas celebration for the family!

    1. So clever! And love that you’re already planning ahead for a zero waste Christmas celebration. You’ll have to share with us how it all goes!

  3. Shop friends’ closets too! They might have that piece that finishes off your costume. No new purchases necessary, and no need to worry if what you pick up will be re-worn.

  4. Well, I feel like this would be a bit *too* obvious, but I suppose if you are going to thrift everything, it might be wise to dress as Macklemore for Halloween.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *