Sustainably Sourced Thrift Store Halloween Costume Ideas

According to this year’s NRF Halloween consumer behavior survey, consumers plan to spend $3.2 billion on costumes. What’s unfortunate is that many of those costumes will be worn only once and/or were produced using plastic-based materials (polyester, anyone?).

If you’re interested in eco-friendly Halloween costume alternatives then look no further. Below is a list of sustainable thrift store Halloween costume ideas that are cheap, easy, and a few that can easily be put together at the last minute!

Before we talk about buying Halloween costumes, there are a few options to consider first.

  1. Shop your closet – If you have the basic elements of a great costume already in your closet, then there is no need to buy new!
  2. Borrow from a friend – Maybe you shopped your closet but you’re missing one key accessory for your costume. Instead of purchasing that item, ask your friends if they can lend it to you.
  3. Consider renting – Google “costume rentals near me” and see what pops up. In metropolitan cities there are plenty of really cool rental options when it comes to Halloween costumes.

If you’ve exhausted the above options and your eco-friendly Halloween costume still isn’t complete, the next step is to shop second hand.


If you’re shopping in thrift stores for Halloween costumes, it’s best to keep a few costume ideas in mind and your eyes open for those key pieces that complete the look. See below for a few ideas of costumes that would be relatively easy to thrift.


Thrift store Halloween costume ideas: Cher or Dionne from Clueless
Photo source: Dazed Digital
Thrift store Halloween costume ideas: a character from Clueless
Photo source: Hello Magazine

Thrift store shopping list for Cher or Dionne Halloween Costume:

  • Plaid mini-skirt
  • Plaid fitted blazer
  • Knee socks
  • Fitted sweater vest

Clueless Party Scene Outfit:

  • Fitted red dress
  • White feather boa
  • Old flip phone (search on Ebay!)


Sustainable thrift store Halloween costume ideas - Mary Poppins
Photo source: Mashable

Thrift store shopping list for Mary Poppins Halloween costume:

  • White collared button down
  • Red ribbon
  • Black bowler hat
  • Black skirt
  • Black tights
  • Large carpet bag
  • Umbrella


Sustainable thrift store Halloween costume ideas - Where's Waldo
Photo source: Slate
  • Red and white striped shirt
  • Striped beanie
  • Black framed glasses

NOTE: This costume is made better when done in a group – have friends or family dress up as “almost” Waldos just as they are in the “Where’s Waldo” books. Think one without the glasses, one without the stripes, etc.


Sustainably sourced Halloween costume ideas - Frida Kahlo
Photo source: BBC
  • Over-sized necklace(s) and earrings
  • Over-sized scarf or shawl
  • Floor length skirt

To finish the look:

  • Center part hair with pinned up braids
  • Optional flower crown
  • Penciled in uni-brow!


Eco-friendly thrift store Halloween costume ideas - Rosie the Riveter
Photo source: Wikipedia
  • Red head scarf
  • Chambray shirt (bonus points if you’re able to thrift a denim jumpsuit!)
  • Red lipstick


Sustainable thrift store Halloween costume ideas - Little House on the Prairie
Photo source: Vox


Eco-friendly Halloween costume ideas - Chas Tenenbaum
Photo source: Go into the Story
  • Red Adidas Jumpsuit (that’s it!)

NOTE: Any character from any Wes Anderson film is a good thrift-able Halloween costume idea in my mind…


I love browsing local thrift stores or consignment shops, but that can be time-consuming and you’re never guaranteed to find the perfect item you’re looking for. Luckily we live in the age of the internet and you can now shop second-hand online!

Online second-hand shops like Ebay or Thredup have search engines that make it easier to find the exact accessory that you’re looking for.


Lastly, if you can’t find it, make it! DIY Halloween costumes can be eco-friendly too. Try to use materials that are reusable or easy to recycle (natural yarn, cotton, paper, cardboard, etc.).

My favorite DIY costumes start with basics that you either already have or are easy to borrow/thrift.

  • Cactus
    • Green dress or long sleeve shirt/pants combo
    • Small strands of white yarn sewn on for “spikes”
    • Optional cactus flower accessories
    • Full DIY at Studio DIY
  • Snail
    • Neutral / beige colored base layer
    • Craft paper to form the shell and the antenna
    • Yellow yarn pom poms (instead of styrofoam)
    • Ribbon, tape, and glue to put it all together
    • Full DIY at Oh Happy Day
    • Black striped shirt
    • Black beanie
    • DIY Face mask
    • DIY Burlap sack with optional dollar sign drawn onto it
    • Visit Say Yes for more

If you want more, check out my posts featuring minimalist Halloween decorations and eco-friendly Halloween treat and decor ideas.

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  1. Omgosh I can’t believe how much $ is spent of Halloween in the US! I dressed as Frida Kahlo a few years ago, wearing stuff I already owned, and I borrowed a shawl from my mum’s wardrobe. I made the flower crown out of old plastic bags as well!

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