Raising awareness and action on Halloween costume waste

An estimated 7 million Halloween costumes are thrown away every year, contributing to 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste. That’s the same as 83 million plastic bottles! In 2019 our research discovered that more than 39 million families dress up for Halloween in the UK and 90% of families buy new costumes every year. The majority of these costumes (69%) are made up of polyester, a fabric made from oil-based plastic, and 2 in 5 are only worn once before being thrown into landfill.

Save yourself some time and money at Halloween - read our 5 ways to dress to kill this year without spooking the planet.

The difference so far

Sew Spooky first launched in 2017 with North London Waste Authority. The campaign took costumes swaps and making workshops to three major universities in London and provided practical ways for students to think more creatively about their costumes. We also ran costume swaps and workshops for families and children across all North London boroughs, supporting kids to get crafty.

To spread the message beyond London we created ‘How to’ videos demonstrating easy ways to make costumes using materials likely found at home; ‘How to’ blogs and infographics promoting the key messages of the campaign.

In 2019, we collaborated with the Fairyland Trust to update our research and promote the campaign further.

To date, the campaign has generated over 270 million opportunities for people to read or hear about the issue of Halloween costume waste, with coverage across 120 media outlets including The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Mail Online, Vogue UK, Glamour UK, BBC, The Independent and Metro. 16 groups have collaborated with us enabling 1,200 people to taken part in Sew Spooky workshops, costume swaps and activities.

Read more about the research in the 2017 press release.

What's next?

Join us in making sure Halloween waste doesn't come back to haunt us:

  1. Get creative and make your own costumes. Here are a few ways you can make a spooktacular costume with things typically found at home. Remember to make sure they're safe and are kept away from anything flammable.
  2. Have a Halloween costume swap with your friends and family and bring last years’ costumes back from the dead.
  3. Share a photo of your DIY costume online with #SewSpooky to help spread the word.

This campaign was first piloted in 2018 with funding from North London Waste Authority.