News Release

Office of Public Affairs

For Immediate Release: September 30, 2014
Release #2014-23
For more information contact:
Media Contact: Melinda Beer

SACRAMENTO--The average American family spends more than $75 on Halloween each year, according to the National Retail Federation, and a plethora of polyester pirate costumes are now on store shelves waiting for you to open your wallet again. But, unless your child never outgrows clothing or you love dressing as a pumpkin every year, consider how many times each year’s costume will actually be worn. The answer is likely: once. Since more than 75 million Americans are estimated to dress up for the holiday each year, a scary amount of discarded costumes will likely die in a landfill.

“CalRecycle encourages Halloween enthusiasts to get into the spirit this year by reducing, reusing, and recycling during the festivities,” CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen said. “By reusing last year’s costume, swapping with friends, or making their own costumes and decorations, consumers will save money and have a frightfully fun time knowing they have participated in an environmentally friendly Halloween.”

Here are a few reduce, reuse, and recycle ideas for the big night:

Designate a costume box you can fill with thrift shop finds throughout the year. Consider buying items you will actually wear again. Putting together thrift shop items is especially helpful if you have multiple events because you can always be seen in a new costume and avoid that embarrassing store-bought costume doppelganger faux pas. Old clothes from your wardrobe or everyday household items can attend the costume party as well.

If you are in a trick-or-trade mood and already have a considerable costume collection, organize a costume swap at your child’s school, or with friends and neighbors.

Decorations can be made from discarded items around the house. An old milk jug can become a hanging skeleton, and ghoulish glowing eyes can be made from used toilet paper rolls with LED lights or glow sticks inside.

Don’t be tempted to buy more candy than you will pass out in a few-hour time span. The NRF estimates 115 million people will hand out candy for Halloween, much of which is wrapped in plastic packaging that is difficult or impossible to recycle.

More than 1 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced each year, with the majority purchased for Halloween carving. Most end up in landfills, where they decompose and produce methane gas, one of the contributing factors to climate change. Reduce waste and get a healthy nutritional boost by devouring the inside: Toast the seeds and use the flesh for baking or making soup. After the festivities, compost the pumpkin, or donate it to a local zoo (a fall treat for animals) or to a school or community garden for compost.

For more costume and decoration ideas, check out CalRecycle’s Pinterest page.

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CalRecycle provides oversight of California solid waste handling and recycling programs to protect human health, develop sustainable solutions that conserve resources, and reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.