October. If you are a parent, that means it’s time to start thinking about Halloween, specifically costumes.
Recycla has two daughters in middle school, so luckily, things are mellowing out around this particular holiday, but she has all-too-vivid memories of little girls begging for specific expensive Disney princess costumes. Or asking for a costume that was so cheap it must have been made by underpaid Asian factory workers out of potentially toxic materials. Neither is an attractive option, so over the years, Recycla has tried to find more eco- and budget-friendly possibilities.
Once your child has decided on his or her costume, look around your house and see if you have anything that can be repurposed into the necessary theme. For example, in the photo to the right, Recycla’s daughter wore her leotard and tights from ballet class, a headband from a wedding her sister was in, fairy wings she already had, and a tunic made from material Recycla had in her stash. (What? You don’t have pink tulle and silver ribbons in your craft closet?)
Depending on what your child wants to be, you could easily start with a costume base of a turtleneck or t-shirt and leggings or tights. Old sheets and towels can be cut up and used in endless ways — last year Recycla’s daughters went as Athena and Artemis. If you don’t have everything you need, thrift shops can be great sources of materials.
Beyond fabric, look through your recycling bin for things that can be used for props and other costume parts. One of Recycla’s daughters dressed as R2D2 several years ago and part of that costume involved cardboard, plastic, and aluminum foil.
You could also ask around your community to see if anyone has a costume that you could borrow or buy. The tiger costume on the right was borrowed from friends and returned after Halloween. If you want to be awesome, organize a costume swap in your neighborhood or at your children’s school.
If your child has his/her heart set on a specific costume, check eBay to see if you can find it used. The price should be lower and in most cases, it should be easy to clean before your child wears it. If you get lucky, you might even be able to resell it on eBay later on.
Depending on the costume in question, it might be worth it to just buy whatever it is that your child has her heart set on. Getting back to the aforementioned princess gowns, Recycla didn’t buy the official ones sold at the Disney store, but she did find someone who made really nice handmade ones that looked similar to the mass-produced ones. Her daughters were delighted and ended up wearing those dresses for a few years until they outgrew them, at which point Recycla happily washed and mended them, then passed them on to another little princess-mad girl.
Instead of buying masks, which are often made of rubber or plastic, consider using natural makeups and face paints instead.
Finally, a few safety reminders so that Halloween doesn’t end up with any bumps or boo boos:
- Make sure your child’s vision (or yours) is not obscured by a mask or other part of the costume.
- Make sure you and your child’s costumes don’t hinder your movement — tripping and spilling candy would be no fun at all!
- If a costume is not reflective or in some way visible in the dark, add some reflective tape so that you can be seen.
- Be careful when around lit jack o’ lanterns — emergency rooms across the U.S. see far too many patients suffering from burns.
Most important of all: Have fun!
Tell the Eco Women: What’s the best costume you ever wore?