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My Green Halloween Costumes
Every year at National Wildlife Federation’s Headquarters office, we hold a Halloween party with prizes for costumes. I like making costumes from recycled materials because of the intellectual challenge and inexpensive supplies.
A few years ago, they even made a special prize for costumes from recycled items (other than secondhand clothing) to encourage this behavior. The prize is a carbon offset from Carbonfund.
Here are some of my award-winning costumes:
Certified Wildlife Habitat
The first time I participated in the Halloween costume contest was in 2001, and I had not figured out my passion for re-using garbage yet. But I did scour local secondhand stores for any little stuffed toys of wildlife, along with any small gardening knick knacks. I made a bird bath by attaching a large plastic lid to a hat.
My costume? A walking Certified Wildlife Habitat®, one of National Wildlife Federation’s most successful programs. When I won the top prize, my new Halloween costume hobby was born.
In 2002, I collected the little plastic containers from the Keurig coffee machines. I cleaned out the coffee grounds and put them in my composter. I took four grey sweatshirts and stuffed the arms. Then I pinned the little coffee cups to the arms with safety pins. Finally, I put on all the sweatshirts at one time.
I loved this costume, although I wish now that I had chosen more colorful sweatshirts to make it more fun.
In 2003, I saved the metal discs from frozen juice containers all year long. My husband helped me punch holes in them and we threaded them together into something like a metal cape. Then I used medical supply bandages (the ones with the plaster embedded) on a recycled plastic milk jug to make the head. I painted it with beige paint and drew on the eyes. The nose was the jug handle turned around.
This was the year that my daughter Nora was born, and I was still on maternity leave during our Halloween party. So I carried her around during the Halloween party and I was “Nora’s pet armadillo.”
Raiser’s Edge Software
Raiser’s Edge is the software that National Wildlife Federation uses to keep track of our members and supporters.
In 2004, I noticed a box of old name tags that someone was throwing away because they were bent up and dusty from an outdoors event. It gave me the idea to be our Raiser’s Edge database. I wrote pretend descriptions of members on little cards and put them in the name tags. Then I pinned them all over my body.
My one-year-old daughter was a black poodle that year and was fascinated with all the name tags.
In 2005, I noticed a local cafe purchased their drinks with those plastic rings to hold them together.
You probably have heard about how these rings can choke wildlife if they are littered on the ground, and generally it is a good idea to cut the rings into bits before disposing of them.
I asked the lady at the cafe to save the rings for me to make my costume. My husband and I spent many nights tying these rings together with small bits of string into a web. Then we used poles from my tent to make a large ring. I made a hat into a spider out of Lean Cuisine lunch containers. I also made my two-year-old daughter a spider costume from a black t-shirt with legs I sewed on my sewing machine. It was fun having a joint costume!
I took a break from making costumes in 2006 because my son was born and he had colic, so I didn’t get much creative time. But in 2007, I made a renewable energy costume.
The wind turbine was made from a recycled oatmeal container attached to my bike helmet, with a plastic container on the front and cardboard turbine blades. The solar energy panel was my armadillo costume recycled onto a piece of cardboard wrapped in shiny wrapping paper. And the geo-thermal system running down my leg was my tent poles again.
Isn’t it cool to see how my daughter gets bigger every year in these photos?
In 2008, I undertook my most complicated costume ever. I cleaned out even more Keurig coffee dispenser cups and pinned them on my clothing with hundreds of safety pins. It took about six hours to pin all the cups.
I recycled the armadillo head and made it a zebra head. I added padding on the nose and painted it black and white, adding a mane of black and white pipe cleaners. While it was not the most slimming costume, it sure was fun to wear, making a clip-clop sound when the cups bumped into each other.
In 2009, I could not have predicted that Virginia was going to get an unbelievable amount of snow, but my Halloween costume sure was on theme!
I saved plastic lids from yogurt containers. I cut snowflake designs out of paper, and then taped them to the lids. Using an exacto knife, I then cut the snowflake designs into the lids. I tried to be creative with this to make it more fun, so there were snowflakes with all sorts of wildlife, plants and other themes incorporated. I made the hat from a tube of cardboard painted blue, trimmed with cotton batting.
Unfortunately, I did not get to make as many snow flakes as I had hoped due to my crazy schedule, but it still was a fun costume.
Halloween 2010 – What Will I Be?
You might wonder – what’s the plan for this year? Well, it’s on my dining room table and I can’t wait until Thursday for our Halloween contest. I’ll give you a hint – it’s a colorful costume and it “caps” off my Halloween costume story. See you later this week when I unveil this year’s creation!