Group Seeks To Reduce Single-Use Plastics In Halloween Costumes

As Halloween approaches, it’s time to inform people that the costumes they have bought likely contain single-use plastic and add to the plastics crisis around the world that harms the environment. But one group aims to do something about it.

From masks to props to clothing materials, plastic is literally part of just about every Halloween costume you can think of. And that’s a problem because many people throw them out after using them for just one night.

This plastic ends up in a landfill, where it enters the ocean and kills an unsuspecting marine animal that gets caught in it or eats it because it mistakes it for food. The plastic can even decay over time into microplastics that kill animals as well, such as seas turtles.

And with millions of people poised to celebrate Halloween by wearing a costume, that means tons of potential plastic that could pile up on the plastic trash already found in the environment, including the most remote places on Earth.

One group known as the Fairyland Trust, a charity based in the United Kingdom, knows all about the problem.

According to the Fairyland Trust:

Research has shown that more than 30 million people dress up for Halloween, over 90 percent of families consider buying costumes, some 7 million Halloween costumes are thrown away in the UK each year, and globally less than 13 percent of material inputs to clothing manufacture are recycled and only 1 percent of clothing textiles are recycled into new clothes.

And this is just in the United Kingdom, where Halloween is not nearly as popular as it is in the United States where the most single-use plastic is used.

A report for the group notes that “concerned consumers can take personal action to avoid buying new plastic and still dress up for Halloween, buying from charity shops or re-using costumes to create outfits, or making their own from non-plastic materials’ but ‘without regulatory action to limit plastic entering the supply chain a comprehensive solution is unlikely to be found’. The Fairyland Trust proposes regulation to ‘phase out non-essential plastics from the market.'”

So, companies need to start phasing out plastic costumes in favor of non-plastic materials. But consumers need to take responsibility for what they purchase in order to send a message to retailers and manufacturers.

But there are a lot of costume ideas that don’t need plastic to work. That’s why the Fairyland Trust also offers ideas for costumes that don’t use plastic.

Some achieve their effect from the overall ‘ensemble’ put together with completely normal clothes but just of the right colours and patterns and textures. Others make use of adornments like feathers, leaves and jewellery or even ‘stuffed animals’ and the odd bone. Many make good use of hats, from the plain to the slightly insane.

Some are smart, some are ragamuffin (think Victorian or Oliver Twist), some are tinker-like and quite a few of the men’s outfits combine white shirts and waistcoats. Boots, gloves and hand-warmers, scarves, shawls and capes all make an appearance… Button rather than zips is another tip. Leather and felt also feel ‘timeless’. Boots are both practical and fitting to the occasion and often the weather and conditions underfoot. Another option is the ‘circus’ look, or even sack-cloth.

As the group suggests, some of the ideas can be put together from items in your own closets.

We can also save costumes and reuse them or donate them to second-hand stores to be used again by others. It’s a simple thing we can do to save the environment. There’s only one Halloween per year, but we only have one planet to live on. We need to take care of it so we can continue celebrating Halloween for years to come.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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