Eco-Halloween Costumes to DIY For

Halloween always seems to bring out the parental paranoia. I suppose it’s no surprise with kids running around after dark, knocking on the doors of people you may or may not know, and essentially taking candy from strangers.

What I don’t hear is any concern about the costumes. And with the mounting evidence of BPA in plastics, and the ever-present danger of off-gassing from things like PVC shower curtains, shouldn’t the same precaution be applied to your kid’s Halloween costumes?

They are often packaged in plastic and when you open them they do not smell good, probably due to the synthetic paint and dyes. Halloween costumes chock full of chemicals sure sound scary to me! (If your child insists on one of these costumes, at least wash it–if you can–or air it out before they wear it.)

So those smelly plasticized costumes might not good for your child’s health, but it’s a given that they are not the best thing for the planet. So here are some Halloween costume ideas that borrow from the reduce, reuse, recycle principle–costumes you can put together from stuff around the house or things you can pick up at a thrift store. No need to even pull out the sewing machine, and you might even save a little green while you’re at it–and who doesn’t like that?

Recycling bin:
Grab some paper, cans, bottles, etc., and attach them to your child’s clothing. This is one costume that’s creative and on message.

The versatility of a white sheet: There’s the old standby ghost, or rewatch “Animal House” and make your kid a toga. If you’re feeling especially crafty, tear the sheet into strips and make a mummy costume. Just make sure you reuse those strips as rags instead of throwing them into the trash.

Ride ‘em, cowboy (or cowgirl): Blue jeans, a checked shirt, boots and hat–I’ll bet your kid has at least one or two of these items. Find some rope and make a lasso. As a bonus, tie a bandana around your dog’s neck as the perfect trick-or-treating accessory. My 4-year-old nephew did this last year and it was a big hit.

Blast from the past: This one can be really fun, with some bell-bottoms, a tie-dye T-shirt or and a headband for a 60s hippie. (Don’t forget to tell your kid to display the two-fingered peace sign!) Or grab the fringe leather jacket/hand-knitted poncho/paisley psychedelic polyester shirt in the back of the closet–you know you kept them for a reason–for a 70s-themed look. Or pull out those leg warmers and shoulder pads for a not-so-pleasant reminder of the unfashionable 80s. Your kids will probably get a good laugh out of it at least!

Sleepwalker: Dress them up in their pajamas and slippers, mess up their hair and they’re all set.

Make like a tree, and leave: If your backyard is as full of fallen leaves as mine, this one is a snap. Attach the leaves to your kids clothes, hair and shoes. And the bonus is that the costume can go straight into the green waste can.

Ballerina/Princess/Fairy: A leotard, a poofy skirt and some great accessories can turn your little girl into her fantasy.

Box robot: If you’ve got a cardboard box around the house, you’ve got the start of a great costume. Just cut out holes for the arms and head, then let the imagination of you and your child be your guide. Just make sure you use non-toxic glue, markers and paint when doing the decorating.

Please share your ideas in the comment field below and have a safe and happy Halloween!


Judy Emerson
Judith Emerson7 years ago

One of my youngest grands is all time makin' robot costumes for herself w/cardboard & paper sacks! She made one 'specially for sweeping the front walk! :D

Mari Basque
Mari 's7 years ago

Eco holidays are the best holidays!!!:-)

Annick Letourneau

Thanks, good ideas for costumes and environment!

Philippa P.
Philippa P7 years ago

There are so many great costumes that are environmentally friendly. All it takes is imagination and a little time.

.7 years ago


Yuki Uehara
Yuki U9 years ago

Great article! I liked the boxes.

How about hitting Good Will Stores? After your kids use the costumes, you can donate them back.