If you have been following our blogs for any time now, you will be aware that fancy dress is very important to us, especially at Christmas and Halloween. But this year we came across a scary Halloween fact that really made our blood run cold. Our good friend and fellow BAFTS member Jo Salter (from the ethical clothing company Where Does It Come From) shared the following image (readers of a nervous disposition may want to look away now!):
Horrifying isn’t it? £510 million spent on Halloween fancy dress a year, with 2 in 5 being worn only once and 7 million costumes thrown in the bin in 2016 alone. That is bad enough in terms of waste, without even going into considerations of how the workers who produce cheap costumes are treated – although it is always at the forefront of our minds.
Well, we always like to be able to take something positive out of a bad situation and so a bit of home made costume making was obviously in order. Handmade and recycled would be even better as part of our focus on Principle 10 of the WFTO principles of Fairtrade – Respect for the Environment. As our Halloween shop window was already adorned with fair trade pumpkins from Zimbabwe, Mexico and Nepal, as well as local and organic pumpkins from Cwmcou Organics closer to home, then a costume to match seemed to be the order of the day.
So off we went to the internet to look for a template and there one was. Didn’t look too complicated (who am I trying to kid!). And although it said to use thin card rather than corrugated, surely reusing some shop packaging wouldn’t make life that much harder? Luckily it was half term so the managing director was on hand to help with construction.
At first it all went swimmingly. The MD cut out all of the templates and I was on cardboard duty. But those packaging boxes aren’t half tough and I will admit that there were several points (especially after I cut my fingers with the scissors and was trying not to drip authentic Halloween blood all over my construction) where I did find myself wondering if it was too late to buy something cheap and plastic instead. And I’m sure that Jo was sitting in Where Does It Come From HQ wondering why her ears were burning as I cursed her for ever posting the information in the first place!
Luckily we persevered and the end result was worth the effort (although it was quite hard to breathe).
So what have we learnt from the experience? Well maybe that if the instructions say not to use corrugated card, it is probably best to follow them, even if you do want to make an important point about reusing and recycling! But making or adapting your own costume is always more rewarding than buying one. And I am busy planning to organise a local costume swap for next year where you can exchange outfits that your kid has outgrown for something the next size up. It might all just be a bit of silliness, but every small steps count on our journey to a better world.
And what did happen to the pumpkin after Halloween? Well our trainee deputy manager Jude had a lot of fun returning it to its original state so it could be disposed of responsibly!