Halloween and sustainability: a grave issue

Spooky season is upon us and with that comes the influx of costumes. Whether the trend this year is fairies and angels, “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” or the classic witch and skeleton — there is no doubt that in a college town as large as Boston, students will don at least one of these on the nights of “Halloweekend.”

Lila Baltaxe | Senior Graphic Artist

In a few days, many will inevitably turn to Amazon Prime to fast-track their last-minute costume idea to their dorm mailbox. But just as fast as they are thrown together, the colorful wigs and cheap, nylon tutus will be stuffed into the back of a closet or deep in a trash bin.

But behind the masks exists a graver issue: sustainability. Halloween is arguably one of the least green holidays, and the issue is only being exacerbated by the rise of fast fashion brands.

In a 2019 report conducted by Hubbub, a UK-based environmental charity, it revealed the true data behind Halloween’s waste generation. The report included survey results from companies such as Amazon, H&M, PrettyLittleThing and Zara. 

The brands reported that polyester — a plastic-based material — makes up 69% of the materials utilized for their clothing. Now, what exactly is polyester? It controls the fast fashion sphere with high accessibility and low costs, yet the material itself is incredibly harmful. The fact that it is the same resource that is used for the production of plastic water bottles says it all.

The money spent on costumes is rapidly growing, with the National Retail Federation estimated that costume spending in 2023 will reach a record $12.2 billion. It can be inferred that year after year, consumers seek to change up last year’s costume and click “buy it now” on the trendiest pieces.  The rise of influencers in today’s society has only made trend-following harder to resist.

The data behind the brands and the fabrics they work with are unbeknownst to many. The small tags detailing the materials on the interior of the clothing are not a priority to look at for many consumers, as the low price tag steals the show.pol Fast fashion, however, is not the only solution that still allows you to adhere to a low budget –– there are some amazing alternatives.lut

Consider frequenting one of the many flea markets and thrift stores that Boston has to offer. Buffalo Exchange, a thrift store just a T-ride away, has racks of costume ideas and affordable closet basics. 

The Fenway Flea, running Oct. 22 and 29 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., offers booths filled with vintage and thrifted pieces.

Also, don’t be afraid to get crafty with what’s in your closet. An apron can be transformed into a chef from “Ratatouille.”  A bedding ionsheet can turn you into a ghost. A velvet blue tracksuit can make you Violet Beauregarde from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

The possibilities are as endless as your creativity. Try a new makeup or face paint look, consult Pinterest for how to take some red lipstick and become Spiderman, or some green paint to take on Hulk. Throw on a sports jersey and take the last-minute approach.  Let us use this as an opportunity to think outside the box, and get inventive with the types of costumes we sport. 

For many, Halloween is a time of self-expression. For these fast fashion brands, it represents a lucrative period for their tossable pieces. But for the Earth, we need to do better.

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