Sustainable Halloween Costume: Ideas and Inspiration

As autumn descends, so too do the invitations to Halloween parties and the pressure to get your costume just right. It’s an amazing time of year where you get to let your creativity shine – the wilder the better!

But with creativity comes great responsibility. While you’re putting together your perfect look, you might be thinking: how do I make a more sustainable Halloween costume? Well, I’ve got you covered.

In this post, I’ll take you through a few ideas for making your Halloween costume a little greener – and not just because you’ve added goo to your look!

Why you should consider a more sustainable Halloween costume

While costumes are fun, they’re also something you – by definition – rarely wear. In fact, research from 2016 suggested that 4 in 10 costumes are never worn again. And because they’re not made to last, they’re often made cheaply, using unsustainable materials and methods that help neither people nor planet.

Reports suggest that Halloween costumes result in as much as 2,000 tonnes of waste. How much is that, exactly? Well, it’s the equivalent of 83 million plastic bottles. YIKES!

And what costumes are made of is just as scary. Over 80% of the materials used in costumes are oil-based plastics, according to a survey of 19 retailers. Some of these plastics can take up to 200 years to decompose!

While we all love a little bit of the fear factor around Halloween, this shouldn’t be fear about the future of our planet. If you’re keen to keep your costume climate conscious, make sure you consider a more sustainable Halloween costume.

Sustainable Halloween costume idea
Just say BOO to fast fashion!

Sustainable Halloween costume ideas

Now that we know why a more sustainable Halloween costume is a fab idea, here’s some ideas for how to achieve the look.


Pre-loved is perfect for creating a more sustainable look. Charity, vintage, and secondhand shops are full of amazing pieces that can be put together to create a unique outfit. That’s right – it’s not just about finding a Halloween costume online. You can find all sorts of normal clothes that can be put together in a plethora of ways to make an exciting and unique costume. Keep reading for more inspiration on the kind of costumes you can create!

Top tip: Check out my article How to Make the Most of Online Charity Shops for everything you need to know for using the ‘web’ (get it?) to shop secondhand.

Spice up something you already have 

By using something in your closet, you’re guaranteed to have a more sustainable Halloween costume. Again, it’s all about getting creative and putting together unusual pieces to achieve something fun and unique.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with temporary changes, too. String, belts, safety pins, or removable fabric tape can all be used to totally change the silhouette, look, and feel of an item.

If you aren’t planning on wearing the item again, then you’ve got a lot more freedom. Rip it, dye it, glue it – get creative to get the look. Ideally, you want to avoid having to throw the piece away, however, so try making changes that can be built on for future costumes.  

Use make-up 

So much of Halloween is about the makeup you wear. You can achieve so many looks just by piling on the powder and pigment to change your whole appearance. Pair a normal outfit with dead-looking makeup and voila! You’re a zombie. Draw lashes under your eyes, pile on pink lipstick, go heavy on the blusher, and you’ve got yourself a doll look. Easy and low-waste – what’s not to love?

Top tip: Organise a Halloween clothing swap! This is a great way to get rid of the costumes in your wardrobe and find your perfect one for this year!

Sustainable Halloween costume inspiration

Need more ideas? Here are some inspired costumes to really get your sustainable Halloween costume started!

Get into the witching hour

The witch costume is an absolute classic. Through together an LBD (little black dress) you already own with a hat you find secondhand. Add some sharp red lipstick and a spooky attitude and you’re on to a winner. Bonus points if you can add a broomstick!

Sustainable Halloween costume idea - witch
Double, double, little toil and no trouble.

Channel your favourite throwback TV or film character

This is a remarkably simple costume that should be an easy go-to! And now that the ’90s are back in fashion, it’s easy to find something in your closet (or something secondhand) that you can easily adapt to your favourite outfit. A few suggestions:

  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch
  • Daria
  • Anyone from Boy Meets World
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Anyone from the Magic School Bus, Rugrats, Doug, Jimmy Neutron, or your favourite children’s show
  • One of the Golden Girls
  • Anyone from Saved by the Bell
  • Sonny or Rico from Miami Vice
  • Danny or Sandy from Grease
  • Anyone from the Breakfast Club
  • Ferris Bueller or his friends
  • Anyone from Top Gun
  • The Heathers

Top tip: a lot of these make great couple or group costumes, too! Share the sustainable love and create your Halloween costumes together.

Become a zombie bride or prom queen (or groom or prom king)

Got a swish dress or suit in your closet that you almost never wear? Want to look fantastic while also being on theme? Then a zombie bride/groom or prom king/queen is the outfit for you. It’s super simple – just grab something you already own and add zombie makeup!

Top tip: here’s a recipe for how to make fake blood using items you might already have in the cupboard.

Go superhero chic

Neon colours + DIY cape and mask + pigtails = superhero costume. It’s that simple! To make it an even more sustainable Halloween costume, make your cape using leftover fabric you already have or head to your local fabric store and ask for roll end pieces.

Make ’em laugh with a Vine or Meme

The best thing about a Vine or Meme costume is that your inspiration is usually just people in regular clothes – meaning you can be dressed down, too! So just find something in your closet (or secondhand) that matches what’s going on in the Vine or Meme, add any necessary signage or accessories, and get into character.

Bonus: you’ll be able to bring a nostalgic smile to everyone’s faces as you open your box of Life cereal and pour out some lemons.

A person from a painting

Whether it’s Johannes Vermeer, Frida Kahlo, Edgar Degas (although to be far he often painted ballerinas), Leonardo da Vinci, or any other amazing painter from history, there’s an easy sustainable Halloween costume to find in their artwork. In fact, my friend once dressed up as a woman from a Roy Lichtenstein painting, using her make-up skills to create the pop art effect. It was absolutely incredible!

Sustainable Halloween costume idea. The girl with the pearl earring
A classic look for a classic costume.

Throw it back

If all else fails, the decades will have you covered. Dig out your finest neon tights (or borrow a friends), throw on a one-piece swimsuit over them, and pop your hair in a high ponytail and you’re a 90s aerobic goddess. Or centre part your hair, make a daisy chain, and pile on everything in your closet that is considered boho and you’re straight out of the 60s. Another quick and easy sustainable Halloween costume, perfect if you’re in a pinch.

What next?

Hopefully my ideas and inspiration have given you a push in the direction of a more sustainable Halloween costume. Now you just need to decide what you’ll be!

As always, it’s not about being perfect, but about making a conscious decision to make your habits kinder to the planet. Just do your best and encourage others to do the same.

All that’s left to say is – let the festivities commence!