Halloween Sustainability

By Cordelia Hare

Happy spooky szn St Andrews! Although this year’s Halloween will be unconventional, I’m sure you’re all getting excited to have an occasion to dress up for… Whether it be for an October 31st flat boogie or a scary zoom call, I assume we will all be shedding our pandemic fits of sweatpants and t-shirts for something more exciting and terrifyingggg...

One thing to take into account though is that your seemingly innocent angel/devil ensemble that’s easily ordered from ASOS or Amazon can actually have a profoundly negative impact on the environment. Believe it or not, consumers are anticipated to spend 472,000,000+ on Halloween products in the UK alone. Out of 7 million Halloween costumes worn annually in the UK, a meager 1% (70,000) get recycled.

In addition to this, given that the majority of consumers are made from oil-based non-biodegradable fibres such as nylon, polyester, and acrylic, these costumes contribute significantly to microplastic pollution, the microscopic particles of synthetic fibre that heavily contaminate oceans and other water bodies. Unfortunately, less than 13% of all inputs in Halloween focused products are recyclable.

Now, as someone whose birthday is on October 26th, Halloween has always a special meaning for me. I fact-checked with my mom and have had between 14 and 16 Halloween themed birthday parties in my (almost) 22 years… Let me tell you that, in addition to the commonly experienced pressure of having a good Halloween costume, being the birthday girl AND it being Halloween adds a little something extra. In short, I have spent far too long searching for the ‘perfect’ and ‘original’ costume and have dressed up as things ranging from a gumball machine (with 16 gumballs) to Marie Antoinette.

Until recently, I have undeniably been a part of the problem. In the past year though, I have transformed my Halloween purchasing habits and want to share some tips.

1. Choose a costume

- Obviously the first step is picking a costume and identifying what pieces you need to execute it

- If you need some help with costume inspo, I recommend checking Pinterest or searching costumes on Instagram

2. Check your closet

- The most sustainable option will always be your closet. Once you have a full complete costume breakdown, look in your closet and see if you have at least one of the pieces already… you’ll be surprised...

3. Ask your friends

- Just like you do for any other occasion, check in with your friends and see if they have part of what you’re looking for!

- One idea is to create a group chat/Facebook group and all post photos of Halloween costumes you have from previous years. Given that most costumes are only worn 1x, SWAPPING is a great way to be sustainable.

4. Explore your local charity shops

- St Andrews had a whopping 8 charity shops (4 of which are on Bell Street alone). Make a day out of it and go with your friends. Not only can you find some great costume pieces, but you’re also supporting some amazing charities and might stumble upon other gems as well.

5. Depop

- Charity shops don’t have what you’re looking for? No need to fear, Depop is an amazing platform which has just about everything you could ever need (and it’s second hand).

- This is a great way to get a sustainable costume and also spend significantly less £ (I got my entire 2020 costume here for < £20).

- That said, you should consider the associated packaging and shipping waste...

Need some more inspo? Check out the resources below!