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4 Ways To Find Eco-Friendly Halloween Costumes On A Budget

What are you wearing for Halloween this year? Ditch the cheap, plastic costume from a big box or Halloween pop-up shop, and consider other more eco-friendly and affordable Halloween costume alternatives. Read on for four ways to find eco-friendly Halloween costumes on a budget!

According to the National Retail Foundation, people in the United States spent $3.2 billion on Halloween costumes in 2019. That amounts to about $31 per person or over $120 per family of four. That’s a lot of money for something that will most likely end up in the trash after just a few hours of use. What a bummer!

There are so many eco-friendly Halloween costume options, including ones that are less expensive than their conventional counterparts. Here are several ideas for low waste and eco-friendly Halloween costume ideas, many of which will also be a welcome break for your bank account. 

Swap Halloween Costumes on Neighborhood Facebook Groups

Many of us wear Halloween costumes only once or twice before packing them away or outgrowing them. Consider swapping costumes with friends and neighbors, especially when searching for low waste Halloween costumes for kids. 

Buy Nothing Groups or Mom/Parent Groups on Facebook offer a great forum for setting up Halloween costume swaps. Create a thread to share last year’s Halloween costumes that you can pass along to others in the group. Alternatively, I asked the Admins in our local Buy Nothing Group to create a “Halloween” post topic so we could group and search for all listings related to Halloween costumes and decor.

Best of all, it’s really easy and entirely free to set up a Halloween thread or post if you’re already in a neighborhood Facebook group or Buy Nothing group. Start the thread to share costumes and return a couple of days later to see what others have offered up. It’s pretty great how much we can make better use of our resources when we share with neighbors and friends. 

Host a Halloween Costume Swap At School or Daycare

Parent-teacher associations through school and daycare centers could also host Halloween costume swaps. They might be able to use it as a small fundraiser, charging a nominal fee of $3-$5 per costume with all proceeds donated to the organization or an important local charity. 

For those in hybrid schools, consider having a rack of costumes hanging outside school in the parking lot and allowing parents to shop it, one at a time, around school pick up and drop off windows. 

If the parent-teacher organization has a Facebook page, you could use that much the same way Buy Nothing Groups share available items. Allow people to post available costumes, comment on those they would like to receive, and offer contactless pick-up when recipients pick up costumes.

You may also consider an email distribution list that includes photos of available costumes with payment made via Venmo or PayPal and costumes picked up before or after school at an outdoor location. 

This year, as we all work through the complications created by the pandemic, logistics would of course depend on the social distancing requirements of your local community. 

With all of the amazing costumes purchased each year and only worn for a couple of hours, we know there must be so many wonderful costumes dying to find a new friend to show it off! I gifted my boys’ dragon and white tiger costumes from last year, and love that they will find new homes now that they are too small for my kids.

Create Your Own Simple DIY Halloween Costumes

Some DIY costumes are pretty epic, but they don’t have to be difficult or expensive. Consider pieces you already have in a play closet or jerseys and uniforms from sports teams that could double as simple Halloween costumes. This year, my older son plans to wear his hockey uniform as a costume to dress up as a hockey player. We’re done with his costume and didn’t spend a dime!

While the ideas that pop up on Instagram tend to be a little too advanced for my style, Pinterest has a range of ideas that include many easy DIY Halloween costumes. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so check out what creative minds have shared on Pinterest (and shamelessly copy their brilliance).

I also love all the Halloween costume ideas from Primary. Primary is a great sustainable kids’ clothing brand that makes all sorts of clothes in bright, solid colors. So many of their pieces are a great foundation for Halloween costumes. 

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They have a whole section on their site dedicated to DIY Halloween costumes for kids and even set up a Costume Concierge service this year to help parents find great DIY Halloween costumes. Check out these simple no-sew DIY Halloween costume accessories you can make in just a few minutes! Their superhero emblem idea is very similar to the simple DIY Elmo costume I made for my son a few years ago.

Want to know the best part about using Primary pieces for Halloween costumes? After Halloween, your kiddos can wear the basic pieces again and again. No single-use Halloween costumes headed right to the trash!

Last year, our boys dressed up in a white tiger DIY costume and a ninja DIY costume, both of which used Primary pajamas as the foundation for the costume. A few years ago, the boys chose to wear simple Captain America and Elmo DIY costumes for Halloween. I used sweatshirts and sweatpants from Primary for these costumes as well. In all cases, I loved that the boys wore the Primary tops and bottoms many more times than just for Halloween.

Furthermore, Primary prioritizes sustainability throughout many aspects of their production and business. I’ve shared a whole lot more about Primary in this post about sustainable kids’ clothing brands

Search Etsy for Halloween Costume Accessories

Etsy is ripe with amazing Halloween costumes and costume accessories from really great artisans and makers. Before defaulting to Amazon or another big box store for the same costume three other kids at school will wear, spend a few minutes searching Etsy. I bet you’ll find an amazing costume for a very reasonable price. 

When my older son asked to dress up as a white tiger for Halloween last year, I found the white tiger mask, gloves, and tail as a set on Etsy. My DIY skills are pretty average. I can throw together a few things that are rough around the edges, but I don’t tend to take on DIY projects that are too fancy or technical. 

I paired the mask, gloves, and tail set with a basic white pajama top and white pajama bottom from Primary. I used an old black undershirt (that once belonged to my husband) to create black stripes from fabric strips. I spent about ten minutes gluing fabric strips onto the white Primary pajama shirt and pants, which exhausted my willingness for DIY components of my kids’ Halloween costumes.

Thus, the amazing Halloween costume accessories on Etsy proved to be a lifesaver, and my son was so pumped about his costume! Etsy was the perfect option for just the right details to make his costume great!

I loved the white tiger costume accessory set so much that I returned to the same vendor this year when my younger son asked to be a black jaguar for Halloween. The white tiger pieces were such great quality that I requested a black mask, gloves, and tail set be custom-made for my son this year. It’s due to arrive this week, and my little guy asks almost daily when we expect it to arrive.

We shopped his closet for a long sleeve black shirt and black workout tights to wear with the Etsy Halloween costume accessories to finish it off perfectly. However, he’s outgrown many of his winter clothes from last year, so I purchased these black cozy sweatpants and this black long sleeve t-shirt from Primary to complete the costume. He will certainly wear these for many months to come!

As we rush around in life, it’s easy to succumb to the belief that buying a single-use, plastic costume from a big box store or Amazon will save us time and money. With a bit of searching through your home for things you already have, you might be surprised how quickly you can pull together a simple Halloween costume with items on hand (which saves both time not spent ordering and money not buying the items you’ll likely only use once). 

If you plan to purchase a costume, browsing Etsy takes no more time than searching other sites, especially if you have a specific idea in mind. It’s a great way to support small businesses. On Etsy, you can even message the shop owner to ask questions or have the costume customized. Big box stores offer no access to the designers or makers and provide limited options to make costumes special or unique. 

Despite Americans spending so much money on Halloween costumes, we don’t have to fall into the consumerism cycle. There are far too many options for amazing and affordable Halloween costumes that don’t deplete our bank accounts and inundate our landfills a few hours later. 

How do you do Halloween costumes? Do you make your own or swap with neighbors? If you have other eco-friendly Halloween costume ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments. I’m all ears (of candy corn). 🙂 

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