The scary truth behind Halloween: Trick or Trash?

Forget about goblins, ghosts and ghouls, the real horrors rise up from the tombs of cheap costumes and plastic broomsticks.

This year the average North American is predicted to spend roughly $80 on a single, often non-biodegradable (and flammable) Halloween costume.

So with Halloween just around the corner and while you’re thinking of all things themed orange and black, how about thinking green at the same time?

Well first, it’s important that we educate ourselves on how large of an issue Halloween costumes are - not only to our planet but to our wallets, bodies & health overall.

On average, upwards of $3.4 billion worth of costumes, and the equivalent of 83m plastic bottles are used up every year. Let’s be honest, most people just end up throwing their costumes out once November 1st rolls around.

So, two environmentally-minded charities — Hubbub and the Fairyland Trustpolled 19 prominent retailers. They found that 83% of the materials used in 324 costume pieces incorporated non-biodegradable, oil-based plastics, the same materials you find piling up in landfills and oceans.

Further, thanks to the Flammable Fabrics Act, most packaged Halloween costumes are made with (cheap, mass produced) flame-resistant fabrics that won’t catch fire or can be extinguished quickly. Of course, this is a good idea for children (or adults) who run around near candlelit Jack-o-lanterns in billowing capes or flowing garments.

However, as Healthy Child Editorial Director Alexandra Zissu writes in a blog post, “growing evidence links flame retardants with adverse health effects, including hormone disruption, reproductive issues and neurological development concerns. Some of these chemicals have been banned or limited in the U.S. and other countries due to health concerns.” You might be thinking that because you’re only wearing it for one night, you won’t be negatively affected. However, since most costumes end up in the bottom of closets before they get sent to the landfill, these toxic chemicals end up leaching out into the environment.

And the horror doesn't just end from the costumes we wear. 

A report from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that 10 out of 10 (!) Halloween face paints and makeup contained low levels of lead — ranging from 0.05 to 0.65 parts per million. Just so you know, no level of lead is good for you. Some paints might also contain nickel, cobalt and chromium, which can cause skin issues such as sensitization and contact dermatitis. The scariest part is that these chemicals were not even listed on the ingredient labels, even though they claimed to be “hypoallergenic” and “FDA compliant,” the report found.

Now, we are sorry to bring down the party, but, it truly appears that the Sexy Climate Crisis is, in fact, the spookiest costume of them all.

But we still love Halloween.

So how does a costume-loving human get through this holiday?

Here’s what we suggest.

 1) Bring your outfit back from the dead

If you’ve got it, haunt it. Uncover the skeletons in your closet and re-wear an old outfit. This is a faboolous alternative to buying a Halloween costume in a shop.

2) Have some skele-fun by upcycling old costumes

Get old-skool spooky and patch your costume together from things you already have in the house.

3) Share the magic with a Halloween costume swap

Do a costume swap with friends or through a local Facebook group, community centre or school. Bring out that outfit from last year and exchange it for a new one.

4) Dress up with some fang-tastic rentals!

Whether you’re going for a look that’s cute, creepy or somewhere in between, you can rent a high-quality piece and support your sisters in the Reheart community. Check out our Halloween collection here! 


- Reheart Team

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