Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween costumes

According to the Green Guide, American spend upwards of $5 billion on Halloween -- that’s a lot of money, and a lot of waste for one night! With the economy tightening everyone’s purse strings, National Geographic’s Green Guide has some tips for a frugal, safe, and green Halloween:

Save money and waste by making costumes yourself, using things already available in your closet.
Participate in a costume swap with friends or other families in your neighborhood.
Avoid buying a makeup set for face painting – many have chemicals that can seep toxins into your skin. Instead use Zinc Oxide or natural makeup.
Give out candy made with organic sugar or Fair Trade chocolate.

I have two kids of my own, and can attest to how much "home-made" costumes have gone out of favor. My girls don't want to be the only ones in class looking different, despite MY values. Luckily I am a firm believer in hand-me-downs and am a frequent lurker on Craig's list. While I haven't had much luck getting my kids to wear home-made costumes of the sort I would throw together (in the absense of sewing skills I rely on my glue gun), we have been both the recipients and the givers of gently used costumes from both friends and strangers.

This year my oldest wanted to be a pioneer girl like Laura Ingalls; after searching the web I found my options were a beautiful hand-sewn 100% cotton dress (that cost $70!!!!), or a 100% polyester made in China dress for $25. Not good options. After talking to some friends about it, within the week I had an offer to borrow a costume from a neighbor who had hand-sewn her own (now older) daughter's pioneer dress. How fortuitous!!!

To the above recommendations, I would also add buying or making costumes out of all-natural materials like cotton that you know will get a lot of play in the dress up box: pirates, cowboys/cowgirls, doctor coats, and princesses come to mind. After several years of play, your investment will pay off, only to be enjoyed by other children when you donate it via Freecycle or your local secondhand shop. Happy Halloweening!

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