Halloween costumes are a great way to foster a child's creativity, but a costume can quickly become excessively wasteful or costly for a single night's excitement. Instead of purchasing a ready-made Halloween costume, encourage your child to make part or all of her costume in an eco-friendly manner. While younger children will need help from their parents, encourage older children to make their own costumes using a set budget and some basic ground rules to ensure environmentally-sound choices. (See References 3)
Use existing clothes in your child's wardrobe as the base for Halloween costumes. Dark tights and a turtleneck can turn a child into a butterfly with the addition of some wings and antennae, while slacks and a button-down shirt can be a great base for a doctor costume. (See References 3)
Invest in props that can be reused for multiple costumes over multiple years. Swords, capes and belts can be used to complete multiple costumes as your children grow.
Look for costumes that can be altered from past Halloweens and other projects. Past plays, dance recitals and costume parties all require costumes that can be repurposed to create a new costume.
Buy face masks made of natural latex, not polyvinyl chloride. PVC is a non-recyclable plastic that off-gasses dioxins that have been shown to cause cancer. Some PVC products may also contain phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive abnormalities and liver cancer. (See References 1, page 393)
Search thrift stores for clothing from a different era. Bell-bottom jeans, poodle skirts and crinolines can be the basis for a great Halloween costume for a child interested in a specific period in history.
Use materials such as cardboard, foil and paper that can be recycled after Halloween is over. Cardboard boxes in particular can be altered to create many different costumes.
Purchase water-based theatrical face paint that is non-toxic and hypoallergenic to create scary faces. Apply the paint with natural sea sponges that can be rinsed and reused.
- Eco-friendly Halloween costumes should include reflective tape or a fluorescent stripe to make sure children can be seen by passing motorists. Each child should also carry a flashlight with rechargeable batteries for added visibility instead of a single-use, non-recyclable glow stick.
Amy A. Whittle is a freelance writer who specializes in home improvement, green living and pet care issues. Her work has been published by Woman's Day.com, the Huffington Post and other online and print publications.
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