Halloween is upon us. This spine-tingling night of goblins and ghouls also comes with something even more frightening: environmental costs. Luckily, we have some suggestions on how to make this holiday better for you and the planet, starting with your costume.
First and foremost, when prepping your fright ‘fit, try to leverage existing clothes and accessories you already have. Halloween costumes are a major contributor to the 12 million pounds of textile waste generated per year in the U.S.—eighty-five percent of costumes end up haunting landfills for decades, and you don’t want to add to that problem. By thrifting, using what you have, and getting creative, you can still find a way to compose a costume that impresses/engages/inspires fellow partygoers with a subtle environmental message.
1. Heat Pump
Show your support for heat pumps and dress as one—drawing inspiration from Rewiring America’s Sam Calisch, who converted a cardboard box into a heat-pump replica. With some white construction paper and a creative hand, you, too, can show your support for expanded investment in heat pumps that will enable Americans across the country to be the beneficiaries of accessible clean energy technology.
Credit: Rewiring America
2. Solar Installer or EV Technician
Credit: Tom Daly Photography; Our local Charlottesville, VA friends at SunTribe Solar
Are you a ten-minutes-before-the-party type planner? We’ve got the perfect two-minute costume for you. Instead of popping on a flannel and calling yourself a lumberjack, toss on a plain white t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and a hard hat. Bonus points if you can add some safety goggles or can carry along some power tools.
If you’re not waiting ‘til the last minute, let your local solar installer know your costume plan, and they might be willing to send you a t-shirt to complete your look.
3. Landfill/recycling/compost bin
Not only is the waste from pumpkins on Halloween, but so is the sheer amount of food waste produced in the US annually. Roughly 40% of all generated food ends up in a landfill.
You can draw attention to this issue with a creative landfill costume. Start by composing an all-black outfit. Then, attach pieces of crumpled paper, wrappers, apple cores, and other miscellaneous items that all end up in the trash. Go a step further and carry around a small plastic bin to point out what’s recyclable and compostable at the party.
Adorable “Mr. Recycling!” credit: Costume Works
4. Solar Panel
For this quintessential clean energy costume, simply break down a cardboard box, color or paint it black, and add smaller rectangles of aluminum foil on top. Boom—you have a solar array. It doesn’t get more classic than this!
Looking for a couples costume? Get your friend or partner to dress up as the sun, and you can walk around your Halloween party telling everyone how much money they could save by switching to solar.
Credit: Ellensburg Solar
With more Americans becoming concerned about climate change, companies are stepping up to act on climate, or at least appear to, in order to attract and retain customers. Unfortunately, many businesses make lofty public commitments to the environment and make false claims that present their products as environmentally-friendly, while actually doing very little to meet those goals.
Call out corporate greenwashing with a monochrome outfit. Dress in green from head to toe, maybe paint your face green, and carry around a can of green paint and a paintbrush. Attach labels to yourself that say things like, “Eco-friendly” “Sustainable,” or “Made from 3% recycled materials.”
More from the box of tricks
Want to level-up your green Halloween? Opt for candy in paper or aluminum packaging instead of plastic, like Hershey’s Kisses and Junior Mints. Skip the plastic decorations like fake spider webs and toys—stick to the classic carved pumpkin, which can go in the aforementioned compost bin.
If you’re already being spooked by winter energy bills, take a look at these tips from Energy.gov to weatherize and make your home as winter-ready as possible to reduce your heating costs.
These didn’t make the cut for our top five, but we still wanted to share these runners-up costume ideas:
- “I just voted” sticker – encourage people to vote for clean energy leaders.
- Captain Planet – no explanation needed.
- Mother Earth – either dress up as the earth or carry around a small globe all night.
- Great Pacific Garbage Patch – similar to the landfill idea, get a (biodegradable) garbage bag and tape plastic trash to it – bonus points if the bag is a darker color which could also symbolize an oil disaster from risky offshore drilling.
Have a happy (clean) Halloween!