With Halloween around the corner, you may be tempted to buy a pre-made costume. But treating the holiday as disposable can cause serious environmental damage.
Halloween costumes and their sucker punch to the environmentThe textile industry has always been a major waste challenge. Eighty-five percent of clothing gets thrown out and ends up in a landfill. The U.S. generates about 25 billion pounds of textiles each year, or 82 pounds per U.S. resident. The 15 percent of clothing that gets donated or recycled amounts for 3.8 billion pounds, or 12 pounds per person, while 21 billion pounds become textile waste. And it gets “better.” Between 1999 and 2009, post-consumer textile waste grew by 40 percent, while the diversion rate only went up by 2 percent. Halloween only adds to the problem, thanks to the social stigma of going as the same thing every year. No one wants to be that person. So much so that adults are investing in Halloween costume consultants. The service has a nice little price tag of about $500-$600, including the costume the client keeps. “I’ve probably spent over $2,000 on costumes with her, but it’s worth it for these interesting, one-of-a-kind standout pieces,” one of the clients said to the New York Post. “I hope [Lane] does my wedding dress!” We’ve put Halloween costumes on a pedestal close to a wedding dress, another garment you only wear once. But the problem is, when you generate so much textile waste it doesn’t go and decompose nicely in the landfill. It has very serious consequences for the environment. According to Planet Aid, “When solid waste such as textiles are buried in landfills they release greenhouse gases as they decompose, including methane, a particularly destructive substance. Similarly, at the other end of the clothing life-cycle spectrum, the production of textile fibers and the manufacture of cloth burns considerable quantities of fuel that releases CO2 into the atmosphere.” Other benefits of less textile waste that Planet Aid listed include taking up less landfill space (Planet Aid collects about 100 million pounds of textiles per year), less insecticide use since less cotton has to be grown and less polluted water. Planet Aid stated that 17-20 percent of industrial water pollution is from textile treatment and dyeing. Yet, while all this sounds serious, that isn’t to say you can’t enjoy Halloween. I adore Halloween; it’s my favorite time of the year. Luckily, there are plenty of donation and reuse options that will help you enjoy Halloween without killing the environment Freddy Krueger-style.
Tips for keeping that costume out of the landfillIf you’re the sort who only likes to wear a costume once and be done with it, there are plenty of donation options out there. For instance, there are organizations that specialize in collecting and distributing new and gently used children’s Halloween costumes, such as Weendream and The Halloween Helpers. They’re great services for the time when your growing child may not fit into their costume from year to year. There are also services like Zealous Good, which helps connect people with donations to the organizations that need them. Or if you have the time, it probably wouldn’t hurt to do the legwork yourself. Zealous Good’s blog offered some advice on where to donate your old Halloween costumes:
- Local theater programs could potentially use costumes, considering the wide variety of characters they might play in any given year. Look into community troupes or local schools.
- You can also look into children’s hospitals. You may want to hold onto your costume until it is relevant again, but these kids could sure use them for festivities.
- A third option is daycares, where kids can play dress up throughout the year.