That’s Hot: The scariest thing about Halloween is its effect on the environment

Lily Zeng | Daily Trojan

Stuck between ordering Fashion Nova’s sexy Buzz Lightyear or a cheap witch costume from Amazon for Halloween? Here’s an idea — close both tabs, and save yourself the money and stress about whether or not it will ship on time. You’ll be doing the planet a big favor.

In 2014, the National Retail Federation conducted a study that found more than two-thirds of celebrants will buy a costume for Halloween each year. Total spooky spending for that year by Americans? More than 7 billion dollars. And with big spending comes big waste. 

It’s no secret that the garment and textile industry has catastrophic effects on the environment. Capitalism and global warming are deeply connected, and if you’ve seen the 2015 documentary “The True Cost,” you know fast fashion is a leading cause of river pollution, structural poverty and oppression. Unsurprisingly, the demand for Halloween costumes only adds fuel to this fire. 

According to the environmental charity Hubbub UK, 82.5% of the materials found in Halloween costumes are plastic. When we consider how many costumes are thrown away after a single use, it is estimated that the annual plastic waste generated from the industry will be equivalent to about 83 million water bottles. 

So what can you do? It’s the day before Halloween, and you feel like you have no options besides hitting up Target’s makeshift costume section. Luckily for you, I’m here to give you a few last-minute ideas that won’t burn the ozone or your bank account.

First, my favorite places to shop for costumes are thrift stores. You never know what you’re going to find — a large faux fur jacket may inspire an animal costume, or you could get lucky and snag a crazy ‘80s windbreaker and pretend like you’ve just walked off the set of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical.” 

A couple weeks ago, I found a beautiful red blazer from Jet Rag on La Brea Boulevard for only a dollar, which I incorporated into a devil costume (it was definitely hot). Some Goodwills even carry the same costumes as your local Party City does, for only at a fraction of the price and with a bit of secondhand love. 

Not only is thrifting super sustainable, but it’s also perfect for any college student on a budget. The Goodwill on Figueroa Street is pretty good, but if you can make the drive, Santa Monica has some amazing secondhand stores.

You could also repurpose something you already own. Do you own a striped shirt and black jeans? Cut an eye mask out of something black and be a burglar! Monochrome outfits are also wonderful starting points for costumes — my little sister had a purple sequin dress in her closet, and with the help of some fake leaves from potted plants around the house, I became a sexy grape. 

I also own a ridiculous amount of pink, so tomorrow I’ll be Barbie. There’s really no limit to your imagination here. 

If you’re into makeup or you obsessively watch beauty tutorials on YouTube, Halloween is your time to shine. 

Skulls, ghosts and clown makeup can be as understated or elaborate as you want them to be (side note: with all the clown memes that were spread this year, I feel like this is actually the perfect costume for 2019). You don’t even have to be objectively good at makeup to use this classic last minute trick. Put purple and red eyeshadow all over your face with some fake blood and be a corpse. Even lazier? I drew a red line at the corner of my friend’s mouth so he could be a vampire. Instagram was key for inspiration with this one. 

If you must go out and buy something, make sure you’ll be able to rewear it in the future or donate it to someone who won’t throw it in the trash after one use.

There’s nothing spookier than global warming, so please think before you buy! Now that’s hot. 

Rachel Billington is a sophomore majoring in creative writing. Her column, “That’s Hot,” runs every other Wednesday.