Single-use is scary! Here’s how to make a sustainable, affordable Halloween costume

Amelia Kovacs
Curious Nature
This Halloween skip the big box stores or Amazon and create your own costume that is more friendly to the environment.
Adobe Stock Image/Licensed by Walking Mountains Science Center

The leaves are changing, the beanies are out, and the smell of pumpkin spice is beginning to hover in the air. These telltale signs can mean only one thing: Halloween is just around the corner. What’s more, it coincides perfectly with International Frugal Fun Day on Oct. 7, a celebration of simple and cost-effective pleasures that takes place every first Saturday in October. So, why not take on the challenge of creating a sustainable and affordable Halloween costume this year?

Why should you look into creating your own Halloween costume in addition to getting the best bang for your buck? Store-bought Halloween costumes, while often convenient, come at a hidden cost to the environment. Many of these costumes are produced using materials that are not eco-friendly and are typically designed for single use.


This means that after the Halloween festivities are over, these costumes often find their way into landfills, contributing to the growing problem of textile waste. In the United States, almost 12 million pounds of textile created for Halloween costumes are wasted each year with 85% of our costumes ending up in the landfill. You have the power to reduce your environmental footprint by creating your own Halloween costume. Choose sustainable materials and repurpose items you already own to make this Halloween season absolutely SPOOK-tacular!

So, how do you get started with some frugal fun? We’ve compiled a list of costume ideas and tips on where to start your sustainable costume journey below!

Frugal fun costume ideas

  1. Cowboy/Cowgirl: Pull out your flannel or weathered long-sleeve, any bandana, and boots and you have yourself a cowboy costume! Add braids, a cowboy hat, and a homemade cardboard horse for extra points. 
  2. Hippie: Have you checked your mom’s closet recently? Find any bootcut jeans or colorful pants, any top with a groovy design, sunglasses that should have stayed in the 1970s, and you’ll be good to go to rock your “Hippie” costume. Extra points may be considered for anything in tie-dye or with a peace sign on it. 
  3. “Formal” Apology: This one is just too punny to resist. Check out any of your local thrift stores or raid your closet for any formal attire of your choosing and add a paper sign to your outfit. Boom! You’re now a “formal” apology. I’m still looking for mine …
  4. Olaf, oh yeah! Kids today, including myself, are obsessed with Olaf and all his friends from the Disney movie, “Frozen.” No need to buy a snowman costume, you can make or thrift your own! Take any white beanie, shirt and pants combo and add paper cut-outs for Olaf’s eyes, buttons, and nose! We highly recommend not using an actual carrot for the nose. 
  5. Wednesday Addams, today! Pick one of the nine black shirts you own, put your hair in braids, add eyeliner if you’d like, and practice your Kubrick stare and you are the perfect encapsulation of Wednesday Addams. 

Of course, these are only a few ideas and possibilities but serve as good reminders of how you can use your creative power to put together a great costume that is frugal and fun.

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If you’re interested in learning more creative ways to be sustainable, consider bringing a friend or meeting new people at the next Walking Mountains’ Drinkering & Tinkering workshop and happy hour that explores creative ways to upcycle hosted at Walking Mountains. 

Amelia Kovacs is a sustainability programs coordinator at Walking Mountains Science Center. In her free time, she likes to play soccer, dabble with photography, and ski at Beaver Creek whenever she can.

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