September 30, 2011

Costume Swap Day

Much of Zero Waste relies on planning ahead and being proactive: Taking your name off mailing lists before getting junk mail, saying "no" to the straw before it shows up in your drink at the cafe, or refusing the party favor, days before it gets handed out to your child. With the kids now back in school, we'll soon need to start thinking about Halloween.

Last year, we used items from home and the thrift shop to dress up the kids. Max (pictured) was a grandma. We bought a secondhand dress, wig, glasses and purse for a few dollars during a thrift shop sale. I shortened the dress's hem to fit his height, and used the fabric extras to make a matching coat for Zizou ("le chien-chien à sa mémère") and gift bags (for Christmas). The day after, we donated the whole outfit back to the thrift store (knowing that the kids want a different look every year), as if we had rented it while funding a cause.

We have also borrowed and created DYI costumes before, but for households holding on to them beyond Halloween, a good sustainable option is to swap. According to, swapping half the costumes kids wear at Halloween would reduce annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons—about the weight of 2,500 midsize cars...

On October 8, National Costume Swap Day, people across the country will get together for costume swaps in their own cities and towns. Swaps not only help the environment but also save money and build community. You can find one near you or better yet, host one yourself with friends, neighbors, school or community group by following these simple steps and registering your swap (private or public) so others can know about it.

Happy Swapping!