Halloween having just passed, I feel like it's important to analyze the eco impact of what just happens to be my favorite holiday. I have to say it's difficult for me to criticize Halloween because I love it so much, and because I didn't do a great job of greening my Halloween this year...
Technically I did follow my rules, I made my own costume. I've been making my own Halloween costumes for years and I put entirely too much time and effort into them because, well it's what I love doing. Sometimes (like this year) I wasn't even sure I'd have a place to wear it. But it's not the wearing of the costume that I love, it's creating something fun, unique, and beautiful that really doesn't serve a point in the normal world. But therein lies the rub, creating something to be only worn once is pretty much as un-green as you can get. So how do I justify this and what does it mean for Halloween?
I don't think that we can go so far as to say that holidays like Halloween shouldn't exist because of how unsustainable they are. I think we should just each try to reduce our waste on Halloween as much as possible. Buying store bought costumes is the first no no. They are super cheap, made overseas, fall apart in one night, and are made from non-recyclable synthetic fabrics. If everyone made their own costume with things they owned, or purchased items from second hand stores, it would be much less of an impact. I will still stand behind people like me who buy fabric and make their own from scratch. The impact from making my own is much less than buying the pre-packaged, plus I plan to keep my costumes for years and years. I've already had several friends borrow my old costumes when they needed something to wear last minute on Halloween night. So see, they are being reused!
The thing is we can't say that Halloween shouldn't exist. That borders on very dangerous territory which takes being green to an extreme. If we say costumes for Halloween are wasteful, then I feel like you start to look into things like theater, arts, dance, and even sports, and could potentially say that these things are also expendable activities that use a huge amount of resources for costumes on a regular basis. I think the key to being successful in sustainability is making smart day to day choices. If we start attacking the things in life that bring meaning and beauty to the world, then we might as well live in a colorless bland world where everyone is the same.
Here is an interesting article from the ecologist on how to have a green Halloween, if you are interested: http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/how_to/1107551/how_tohave_an_ecofriendly_halloween.html
And if you're curious, here is my costume from this year.
The white swan (from the movie Black Swan) - I hand made my tutu trying to use real tutu making techniques and I hand made head piece made from an old headband and some wire. The base of the corset was made from old fabric I had lying around, but I do have to confess that I had to buy many yards of tulle and 2 yards of fashion fabric for the rest of the costume. So not the greenest, but also still didn't break my rules! :)
Happy Halloween everyone!