Zero Waste Halloween Costumes

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

This Halloween, consider making yourself a DIY Halloween costume instead of buying a costume made of polyester and most likely made in unethical conditions. Traditional costumes are cheaply made, don’t last very long, and are made of plastic. They cannot be recycled, though if you already have one, please save it for years to come or donate it. Not to mention, several other people will buy that costume too. I will leave a video linked below if you’d like to learn more about fast fashion and why we should avoid it if possible. But, also be sure to check out my Halloween anti-haul in which I talk more about why single-use costumes are so bad for the planet.

Instead, stand out from the crowd of witches and firefights and create your own unique look. There is an endless array of DIY costume ideas but I am highlighting 40. The first ten you can see the more in-depth explanation and displays in this video and the middle 20 costumes I briefly cover how you can recreate them but I don’t have photos for them all.

The last ten you can learn more about in my friend Charlotte’s video here. I’ve teamed up with Charlotte from Our Future Is Mars to bring you some zero waste Halloween inspiration, so be sure to check out her video/blog post for more costume ideas!

These are all so easy to recreate with items you might already have OR items you can easily thrift/borrow from a friend. The costumes I recreated in my video were all made with items I already had and a few of the others I displayed below I had to buy a few thrifted items for. Also below are some other costumes that some sweet friends of mine allowed me to use!

Let’s jump right in!

1. Scarecrow

Complete with a flannel, jeans, boots, hat, eyeliner to draw on patches and stitches, and some dead grass to complete the look.

2. Athlete/Gym Coach

They are both pretty much the same. Start with a base layer of sweats or athletic shorts and an athletic/school shirt. For the gym coach, you can add a whistle, a clipboard, and sports equipment. For an athlete you might add medals or trophies as well as sports equipment and even a jersey.

3. Tourist

You can take this a few ways. You can be like a Instagram influencer tourist or a stereotypical tourist. I went stereotypical and wore a gray shirt (if you have a Hawaiian shirt use that!), cargo pants, socks and sandals, a camera, and a fanny pack. You can top it off with binoculars or a sun hat and even carry a fake passport too!

4. Yogi

This look is so easy! I wore leggings, a tank top, and sandals and then carried a yoga mat, water bottle, and canvas bag. You can spin this any way you want with what you have available!

5. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy

I'm pretty sure this is my favorite costume I've ever done. I was Mermaid Man my freshman year and to complete that look, I bought some green tights (hard to find second hand), thrifted an orange shirt, used black shorts, yellow gloves, and pink slippers I already had, and made an "M" belt and purple shell bra out of construction paper. My friend went as Barnacle Boy and she worse black leggings, blue shoes, black and blue shirt with a blue "cape" made from a bandana, a white hat, and a black mask. To really get the point across for this costume, jump for a photo in your invisible boatmobile!

6. Smarty Pants

If you know me, you know I love a good pun so I was so excited to create this one. All you need is a tee (thankfully I had a nerdy one), jeans with smarties taped or glued to them, glasses (maybe with tape in the middle), and you can top it off with suspenders, too!

7. Breadwinner

Another punny one I had to include in this list. You can wear whatever you want but all you really need is to carry a loaf of bread and wear some medals on your neck!

8. Dancing Girl Emoji

This is perhaps the easiest one on the list! All you need is black shorts, black tee or tank top, black shoes, and a friend! You can complete the look with pigtails if you want.

9. Beach Bum

This one is fairly easy to pull together with things you already have. I wore flowy pants, a cover up, a swimsuit, and carried a beach towel, beach bag, and sunscreen. You can complete this look with beach balls, beach umbrella, goggles or mask, and sunglasses!

10. Ketchup and Mustard

This one I kind of came up with on a whim. Dan and I went thrifting and I got a red shirt I loved and he got a yellow shirt he loved and one time we wore them at the same time. I made a comment how we look like ketchup and mustard and a light bulb went off! For this costume, I worse red shorts and a red shirt and carried a bottle of ketchup and Dan did the same for mustard. You could top it all off by making red and yellow cones and attaching them to headbands as bottle nozzles!

11. Geisha

Geisha are traditional Japanese performers typically dressed up in traditional garb. You could simply just wear a kimono but you could also add fans, face makeup, and traditional hair, too!

12. Roaring 20s theme

I went to a roaring 20s theme wedding a few years ago and loved getting dressed up. I worse a flapper dress, a headband, curled my hair, and wore sparkly shoes. This one is super easy to change up and just roll with!

13. Old lady/man

This is another easy one I loved creating when I was in high school. My friend and I bought old lady clothes from the thrift store, worse glasses, and completed the look with gray hair paint. You could also add a cane or a walker!

14. Addams Family

I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory. You can just copy their looks based off their characters. Pretty much you have to wear black outfits with black wigs. Doing a spin-off of your favorite show is a great group costume idea!

15. Greek gods and goddesses

Another simple one you can create with things from home (or find second hand) is Greek gods and goddesses! You just need a makeshift toga out of a white bedsheet and gold accessories. You could even do fancy makeup and hair, too!

16. Zero-waster

This one is a play on a stereotypical zero-waster. You just need to carry what you might normally carry as a zero-waster. Things like a reusable bag, reusable water bottle, activist poster, bulk store jars. metal straws, and even a trash jar. Spin this one how ever you want!

17. Minions

I did this another year in high school so enjoy this throw back, but I did a minion shirt I borrowed from a friend with jeans. Other people in my group added DIY goggles and overalls to complete the look.

18. Hippie

Depending on how you perceive hippies and zero-wasters, this could be the same thing. Hippies can be varied by adding floral clothes, baggy pants, hippie glasses, a bouquet, and going barefoot or wearing sandals.

19. VSCO Girl

Not sure if this is still a trend, but if so, you could go at a 2019 VSCO girl by wearing a big shirt with shorts, lots of scrunchies, a reusable water bottle, metal straws, and birkenstocks.

20. Care Bears

Another great costume that can be for one person, a couple, or a group of any size, really and that is Care Bears. All you need is a plain colored shirt with white circles sewn onto the stomach with your chosen Care Bear logo/power.

21. Ice Cream Cone

I thought this idea was fun. You'll need a white shirt/skirt or a dress and add construction paper sprinkles. Then, you can make a tan cone out of paper glued to a headband.

22. Scuba Diver (Thanks, Karina from Explore Blue Wild!!)

This costume is great for any ocean lover with too much beach gear (like me (Karina)). I wore my mask, snorkel, dive boots, dive leggings, and a dive tank top. Fins work great for photos and can be carried as a prop since wearing them around isn't too convenient. You can also fashion an "oxygen tank" from repurposed 2-liter bottles.

23. Party Animals

Again, this costume is SO easy and perfect for groups of any size! All you need is party clothes, animal headbands, and some eyeliner to draw on whiskers. You can top it all off with a tail and paws if you want. Then you can carry party items like blowers, champagne, glasses, and so forth.

24. Black Cat

Like a party animal, this is yet another easy one! You will need black clothing, cat ear headband (which you can make yourself from paper), and DIY whiskers drawn on with eyeliner. Again, feel free to add a tail and paws if you need like it.

25. Men in Black

This one is only easy if you already have suits! Just top off a black suit and tie with some sunglasses and get your whole group involved!

26. Plant Lady

This costume is easy to customize. You can wear clothes with plants on them or maybe a white shirt with jean overalls. You can carry a trowel, some plants, a watering can, and wear an apron filled with seeds. If you're at your home, consider passing out seeds for trick or treat!

27. Rosie the Riveter

Why not go as an icon for Halloween? You'll see a blue jumpsuit/coveralls, a read headband or bandana, red lipstick, and some tools.

28. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I created this costume for a work holiday party by using thrifted green tees, some scrap yellow fabric for the bellies, and some scrap red, blue, orange, and purple fabric to make wrist, arm, and head bands. You can top it all off by adding fake weapons and turtle shells and even add other member of the cast.