Making Spooky and Sustainable Halloween Costumes

Why was the scarecrow the best farmer? Because he was outstanding in his field!

Why was the scarecrow the best farmer? Because he was outstanding in his field!

By Dani Poirier, Environmental Studies & Communications Student

‘Tis the season for grocery stores to have aisles lined with candy and costumes. If you’re like me, you’ve already been thinking of this year’s Halloween costume to debut at frightening festivities. However, before you rush to purchase your disguise, consider these clever and sustainable DIY options.

Typical store-bought costumes are sometimes made overseas by sweatshop workers in “scary” working conditions. In fact, in 2012 Huffington Post published a story about Chinese sweatshop workers, who cleverly sent pleas for help by sneaking a hand-written letter into the cheap Halloween supplies. Additionally, store-bought costumes are rarely made from recycled materials, therefore requiring new resources for manufacturing. When made overseas, the costumes must be packaged and shipped over to consumers, which use natural resources including oil and gas to fuel the cargo ships and delivery trucks. So instead of supporting the business of unsustainable Halloween costumes, get creative and craft your own costume! We all know the best costumes don’t come from a bag anyways.

Gather a group of your friends, turn on your favorite tunes, and get ready to groove!

1. “Mummify Me Sustainable”
The perfect solution for that massive pile of plastic grocery bags you’ve been meaning to take to recycling.

Supplies: Grocery bags, hot glue gun, old clothes, scissors

Mummy materials, check.

Mummy materials, check.

Step 1. Choose a pair of old raggy clothes (shirt and pants, or dress) then cut them up; you don’t have to be completely mummified from head to toe.

Rope-like effect, check.

Rope-like effect, check.

Step 2. Loosely twist a plastic bag length-wise so it is more “rope-like” rather than an actual bag.

Securely mummified, check.

Securely mummified, check.

Step 3. Use the glue gun to tack
down the strips of twisted plastic bags onto your clothes until your clothes are covered in strips of shaggy plastic. (I recommend matching the color of plastic bags to the piece of clothing you will be gluing it to so the gaps are not as noticeable.)

Move over mommy because this mummy is ready to paint the town red.

2. “Dice”
Roll up to the party and get ready to rumble for your favorite Halloween games!

Supplies: A large box, black and white paint, black shirt and pants to wear under your box.
Step 1. Choose a square cardboard box that fits your body. Try it on and cut holes for your arms and head, leaving the bottom open for your body and legs.

Don't forget to cut those armholes!

Don’t forget to cut those armholes!

Step 2. Paint the entire box white (preferably with eco-friendly paint). Once completely dry, paint on the black dots to the sides of the dice.

This easy to make recyclable costume will ensure you're ready to roll every Halloween.

This easy to make recyclable costume will ensure you’re ready to roll every Halloween.

Invite your friend and see what who wins Yahtzee!

3. “Spookily Stylish Scarecrow”
This super simple costume is sure to be a Fall favorite! All you have to do is open your closet (and possibly do some laundry).

Supplies: A straw hat, flannel shirt, raggy/ripped jeans, brown/black/orange makeup, brown paper bags

Return to your closet for these re-usable costume props next year!

Return to your closet for these re-usable costume props next year!

Step 1. Everyone has a pair of ripped up, raggy jeans and a flannel shirt—if not visit your local Salvation Army or Desert Industry. Throw ‘em on with a pair of boots.
Step 2. Google “scarecrow makeup ideas” and attempt to copy your favorite one. Hopefully you have an artistic friend to do your makeup. Check out these eco-friendly makeup brands.








Hay, that was simple – Happy Halloween!

Step 3. Rip up or cut up strips using any brown paper bags, then crinkle them for a tattered effect. Tape or glue them to the inside cuffs of your flannel shirt and jeans so they poke out like hay stuffed into a scarecrow.

I am sure this DIY scarecrow has a huge brain.

Hopefully these ideas will inspire more sustainable costumes of your own! We all can easily get caught up in the fun of Halloween, but it is important to remember that there are environmental and social impacts surrounding the things we buy. So let’s take steps towards mindful-consumption; instead of spending your cash on a new costume, spend time with friends while making your very own outfit. The real Halloween magic is in the memories you make!

Share with us your DIY costumes! Email We will give you a shout out on social media.

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