Halloween 2020 will likely look a bit different than past years, considering we’re in the middle of a pandemic. But even if your shindig is a virtual Halloween party, the costumes are still at the heart of the fun. When planning the perfect outfit for your socially distanced event, remember to consider the impact on the planet. It’s easy to bring the ‘wow’ factor that will keep party-goers talking for weeks to come while still avoiding plastic and using materials that are natural and recyclable or compostable. Happy Halloween!

Use what you have

The easiest way to create DIY Halloween costumes with little to no additional environmental impact is to use what you already have. Dig through the closet and the holiday totes in the garage. You might be surprised what you find that could make for a fun, unique costume.

Related: Have an eco-friendly Halloween and aim for zero-waste this October

person dressed as scarecrow in a corn field


A plaid shirt alongside a straw hat will help you pull off a scarecrow costume sure to keep the birds at bay. Add some non-toxic face paint to complete the look.


Some overalls and a bandana with that same flannel shirt and straw hat will spin your look into a farmer instead. Put the scarecrow and the farmer together for a cute couples’ costume idea.


Much of the skeleton look relies on the face paint. But for clothing, adorn all-black shirts and pants with white paint or fabric to create the appearance of bones.

kid wearing mask with painted whiskers and a headband with cat ears


A black cat, leopard or cheetah are always popular for Halloween. Dress in all black or pull out the printed onesie for starters. Then add some easy ears, a tail and face paint for the finishing touches. If you don’t have fabric around, look to old linens or clothing you can cut. Attach triangular ears to a headband. For the tail, sew two long strips of fabric together and stuff with additional material, cotton, packing paper or another natural material.


Similarly, you can don gray clothing head to toe, and add an empty gift wrap tube or paper towel roll for your trunk. Create some floppy ears from fabric-covered or painted cardboard.


A robber costume is quick and easy. Throw on a black-and-white striped top, some black pants and a black beanie. Pair with a pillowcase to hold your spoils.


Children and adults alike can pull this look off with a bit of black paint, fabric or stickers and a pair of red pajamas you may already have around the house. Leggings and a long-sleeve shirt will do the job, too. Simple apply black circles randomly around the red fabric. Put together a simple matching mask or rely on face paint for the final touch.

Turn to the recycling bin

Save those boxes for your 2020 Halloween costumes and choose from this variety of quick, DIY costume options.

kid wearing aluminum-foil wrapped box as a robot costume


For the upper body of a robot costume, cut holes in a box for your head, lower body and arms. You can make it slide on over your head or attach in two pieces so it wraps around your body before securing with tape or ties. For your helmet, create another square box with a face cutout. No plastic required! Dress in gray with a long sleeve shirt and pants. Complete the look by painting the cardboard gray and attaching or painting knobs and a display on the front. Tip: recycled plastic or metal bottle caps make great knobs.


Roll the dice for a win with a simple cardboard box painted to look like a die. Remember, an accurate die adds up to seven on all opposite sides, so five dots are across from two dots, four across from three, and one across from six.

Rubix Cube

For a more colorful look, use the same cardboard box idea as the die, but paint it to resemble a Rubix Cube instead with various colorful squares.

kid holding cardboard knight sword


Be a knight in shining armor for the planet with a cardboard shield, helmet and body armor. Embellish with paint if you like. Remember the cardboard or wood sword for your defense in battle!


It’s a classic costume for a reason — it’s so easy. Head out to the paint supply cupboard or linen closet for an old white sheet, rip or cut it into shreds and wrap yourself head to toe. You’ll be ready for your next virtual Halloween bash in no time!

Images via Adobe Stock