Are you looking for spooktacular and super easy DIY Halloween costumes for adults and kids? I’ve got you! With this list of low-waste DIY Halloween costumes, you (or your kid) will have control over the materials used and look amazing, while taking the sustainable route. 

(P.S. If you’d rather buy a costume instead, don’t forget to check out our Non-Toxic & Organic Halloween Costumes guide as well.)

Easy Low-Waste DIY Halloween Costumes in 2023

Oh, the magic of Halloween. It’s a night where Wednesday Addams can be spotted walking side by side with robots, talking to mummies, and mingling with other favorite characters.

And, truth be told, I adore every moment of it!

However, there’s one spooky statistic many folks never think of: costume waste. It’s estimated that each year, 35 million Halloween costumes are thrown away in the U.S. alone. And about 5.4 million kilograms of textile waste is produced by businesses and trick-or-treaters after dressing up on the 31st.

And because most Halloween costumes are crafted with cheap, petroleum-based fabrics, it’s estimated that something like 63% of Halloween costumes can take up to 20-200 years to decompose.

Luckily, there’s a trove of last-minute, eco-friendly DIY Halloween costume ideas at our disposal, all of which can help you use what you already have at home and cut down on those petroleum-based fabrics (that you’ll maybe only wear once).

From upcycling old clothes to repurposing household items, every stitch and snip in a low-waste DIY Halloween costume brings us a step closer to a planet-friendly, spooky celebration.

Without further ado, here’s a curated list of the easiest (but still cute and spooky!) DIY Halloween costumes for couples, friends, solo adults, and kids!

Easy DIY Halloween Costumes for Kids

Cardboard Robot Costume 

First up is one of the best DIY Halloween costumes toddlers absolutely love. Turn your kiddo into an adorable robotic human with this quick cardboard robot costume. Using cardboard boxes that you already have at home, you’ll craft a futuristic ensemble that’s perfect for any young tech enthusiast and avid WALL-E watchers. 

Find a large cardboard box that fits your child’s body. Cut armholes and a hole for the head.

You can either paint the box with silver/metallic colors, or you can just cover the whole thing in aluminum foil if you don’t want to deal with the paint fumes. (If you do want to paint it, I would recommend using regular paint, not spray paint. Just use silver paint that’s made for kids, like Crayola. These tend to be much safer than your conventional spray paint in terms of chemicals and fumes.)

You can attach knobs, buttons, and other details using smaller cardboard pieces. You can finish by adding more foil, painted bottle caps, or whatever other details you come up with for decoration.


DIY Halloween Mummy Costume

easy diy halloween costumes

Who doesn’t love a good spooky mummy? A classic!

This low-waste DIY Halloween costume is super easy to create and gives those old bed linens a second life, all while keeping your Halloween low-waste.

Simply tear old white sheets into strips. Dress your child (or yourself!) in white clothes as a base layer. Wrap the torn strips around the clothes, leaving openings for the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Once you’re wrapped up, you can cut some smaller pieces of fabric up and stick them into various places on the body to make the wrapping look a little “older,” like it’s been in the grave for a while. You can add a little facepaint or non-toxic makeup if you want, too.


Handmade Paper Bag Animal Masks

Repurposing paper bags into cute animal masks is not only simple but also saves those bags from ending up in landfills. It’s a fun craft that turns into a costume. Kids can transform into their favorite animals with this super quick and easy last-minute Halloween costume idea.

Choose an animal and gather images for reference. Cut and shape a paper bag to resemble the animal’s face. Paint and add details like ears, eyes, and noses. If you don’t have the right colored bag(s), just use construction paper and/or paint.

Pair the mask with regular clothing that matches the color of the mask you made. An orange shirt and pants for a tiger, all black for a cat, etc.


DIY Princess or Prince Costume

easy diy princess halloween costumes

Pretty much every kid dreams of being royalty at some point, right?

This homemade Halloween costume idea encourages imaginative play and reuse by creating a royal costume from old clothes and fabrics. The process is pretty simple and it can be adapted to the taste of every kiddo.

Gather old dresses, shirts, or skirts in elegant colors. Embellish with ribbons, lace, or fabric scraps to create a regal look. Then, add a cardboard crown or tiara as a finishing touch.


Crayon Costume DIY

Kids will love rocking these crayon-themed, eco-friendly Halloween costumes to school and during their trick-or-treating adventures.

There are two ways you can do this: one is a very low-effort way that basically just requires colored clothing, black tape, and construction paper. Here’s how you do that:

First, let them choose their preferred crayon color, and then find a pair of pants and socks that match their chosen shade. Using electrical tape, simply add the distinctive “Crayola” stripes. To top off the ensemble, craft hats using construction paper with the help of an easy-to-follow template

If you want to put in a little bit more effort (it’s still easy!), grab some colored fabric and make a separate “tube” that can go over the kids’ clothes. Here’s a video tutorial to walk you through it:


Easy Butterfly Halloween Costume 

Encourage your little ones to embrace their inner butterfly and choose their favorite hues for the wings—vivid purples, brilliant blues, or radiant oranges.

Start by crafting the butterfly wings of this DIY Halloween costume for kids by using sturdy cardboard or wireframes covered in colorful tissue paper. Allow the kids to get hands-on, decorating the wings how they want.

You can add some elastic straps or even just use plain string so your child can comfortably wear their wings to school or during trick-or-treat night. (In the video above, she just uses one string, which attaches around the child’s neck. That seems dangerous, so I suggest using two separate pieces of string that attach by going around the shoulders/armpits instead.)

To make an antenna, use a headband and attach bent pipe cleaners adorned with crafted pompoms or foam ball tips. It’s a charming touch that completes the whimsical transformation. Finally, finish the look with a matching outfit—perhaps a leotard or a dress in a coordinating color. Your little butterfly will be ready to flutter through the Halloween festivities, spreading joy and magic wherever they go! 


Low-Waste DIY Halloween Costume Ideas For Couples

Alright, now let’s get to some good ideas for couple costumes!

Puzzle Pieces

Isn’t it a perfect metaphor for how you complete each other? 😉 This costume is cute, creative, and easily recognizable. It also allows for a lot of customization!

To make this one, simply take a couple large pieces of cardboard and cut each piece into a puzzle shape. Paint each piece a different color and add puzzle-like details. When you stand together, it looks like the pieces fit!


Bob Ross and a Happy Little Tree DIY Halloween Costume

Let’s take a nostalgic trip down memory lane with this fun couple’s costume, channeling the artistry of Bob Ross.

With the exception of the curly auburn wig, you probably already have most of the pieces you need for this costume. For Bob, you just need regular jeans and a blue shirt, some paint brushes, and a paint palette. (You can just take a cardboard box and cut it into the shape of a palette!)

For the Little Happy Tree portion of the costume, you can use foraged leaves and other tree-like details like twigs and mushrooms that you get from your backyard or the park. (In the video tutorial above, she uses faux leaves, but why not just use real ones?!) Glue some of the leaves and twigs onto a headband and attach some other ones to a string that you can wrap around your arms and body.

Oh, and here’s a delightful extra idea: If you’ve got a little sidekick, why not dress them up as Bob’s adorable squirrel, Peapod? Fun for the whole creative crew! 


Mary Poppins and Bert DIY Halloween Costume

For this one, you can either use what you already have in your closet, or you can stop by the thrift store to grab whatever items you don’t have.

When you slip into that classic dark midi skirt and blazer combo, topped with a crisp white button-down, it might scream ‘office’ at first glance. But just add a playful red ribbon tied around your neck and maybe a fedora, and voila—you’ve just stepped into the shoes of Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.

And for your buddy embracing the chimney sweep life: pop on a newsboy cap, add a touch of ash-colored eyeshadow to their face, put a broom in hand, and they’re an instant Bert doppelgänger. I personally love this eco-friendly DIY Halloween costume for couples because of how super easy it is.


Tetris DIY Last Minute Halloween Costume

This last-minute Halloween costume idea is a throwback to the good ol’ days of pixelated gaming. It’s simple, iconic, and nostalgic. (Who doesn’t have fond memories of playing Tetris?)

You can either just paint colorful blocks on a sweatshirt, or use post-it notes, like this:

last minute easy halloween costumes
Credit: Mike Garten via Better Homes & Gardens

Or you can put in a little extra effort and paint some cardboard boxes into Tetris shapes, attaching them with colored tape, like this:

diy halloween costume for group
Credit: Sustentabilidad Sin Fronteras

As you can see, this is a great option for siblings or a group of friends, too!


Homemade DIY Halloween Costumes for Adults

80s Workout Instructor

The 80s workout instructor costume is a blast from the past, full of vibrant colors, legwarmers, and high energy. It’s a nostalgic nod to a colorful era of fitness and fun.

Even though bright, neon colors are more ‘on-brand’ for this one, you don’t have to go out and buy vibrant-colored activewear if you don’t already have some in your closet… Just use what you already have!

Put a leotard or bodysuit on over a pair of tights or leggings of a different color. If you don’t have leg warmers, just use tall socks and scrunch them down a little bit. Add a belt around your waist. Put your hair in a high pony and add a sweatband/headband to complete the look.


Crazy Cat Lady DIY Halloween Costume

This low-waste DIY Halloween costume is a hilarious and quirky choice that’s sure to make people laugh. It’s an exaggerated take on cat obsession, complete with stuffed toy cats and a robe covered in fluff.

Create some “wrinkles” using non-toxic makeup (check out the video tutorial above). Then grab a robe, stuffed toy cats from your kids’ toybox, slippers, and a cozy blanket. Put on the robe and wrap yourself in the cozy blanket. Adorn the robe with the stuffed toy cats, giving you that “crazy cat lady” look.


Zero-Waste Wednesday Addams Halloween Costume

Embrace the shadows and channel your inner Wednesday Addams with an all-black ensemble that exudes an air of mystery.

Again, this is another costume that you can probably make using what you already have in your closet. Don a sleek striped blazer, pair it with a classic collared shirt, and opt for a chic black dress with knee-high socks for that signature look. To complete this hauntingly fabulous outfit, add perfectly braided pigtail locks and some dark makeup (like this ‘Ultraviolet’ lipstick from Ilia, which is made without things l ike phthalates, fragrance, and synthetic pigments).


DIY Popcorn Box Costume

This homemade Halloween costume idea is a playful and creative take on a favorite movie treat.

Check if you already have cardboard, red and white paint (or paper), and a black marker. Cut the cardboard into a rectangular shape and form it into a box structure. Paint the box red or cover it with red paper. Then add some white stripes and the word “POPCORN.”

For the actual piece of popcorn, crumple up several pieces of yellow paper and glue them to the box. Lastly, attach straps so you can wear it like a sandwich board.


DIY “Where’s Waldo” Costume

This DIY “Where’s Waldo?” costume is another playful and nostalgic choice that’s easy, but all the other adults will love.

You can either use a red and white striped shirt, or you can make your own stripes using a solid-colored shirt.

If you have a red shirt, you can add white stripes to it. You can either glue strips of white paper around the shirt, or you can cut up some strips of white fabric (maybe from an old bed sheet) and sew them onto the shirt.

Or, if you have a white shirt, you can do the same thing by adding red stripes to it either with paper, fabric, or just red paint and tape (check out the video above for how to do that). It really just depends on what materials you already have and how much effort you want to put in!

You’ll also want a red beanie, glasses, and jeans. Put it all on for that unmistakable Waldo look.


DIY Houseplant Halloween Costume

Next up is a low-waste DIY Halloween costume for all the plant lovers out there.

There are several different ways of doing this one, some of which require more effort than others. I’ll just link to some helpful tutorials!

Here is a super cute snake plant costume from A Beautiful Mess.

diy houseplant costume from a beautiful mess
Credit: A Beautiful Mess

And here is a Monstera one from A Crafted Lifestyle.

diy house plant halloween costume from a crafted lifestyle
Credit: A Crafted Lifestyle

Lastly, here is a really easy no-sew flower costume for kids from Pimary.

no sew easy diy flower costume for kids
Credit: Primary

(P.S. This can also work as a great DIY Halloween costume idea for couples or groups, with each person dressing up as a different kind of houseplant!)

Wrapping Up the Best Eco-Friendly, Low-Waste DIY Halloween Costumes 2023

As we wrap up this easy DIY Halloween costume guide, I hope you’re now armed with inspiration, excitement, and a dash of craftiness to turn some of these homemade Halloween costume ideas to life. So, dust off those old clothes, raid your craft supplies, and let your spooky-themed creativity flow. 



About Konstantina

Konstantina Antoniadou is a sustainability writer with an ongoing curiosity to explore new innovative technologies and report on trends in โ€œgreenโ€ industries. With almost ten years of expertise in media and publishing and undying love for upbeat and energetic storytelling, Konstantina is at the forefront of the creatively charged fashion, beauty, and non-toxic home verticals. When sheโ€™s not crafting ethical shopping guides, sheโ€™s either trying to perfect her roller skate dance moves, thrifting, or binging series for the hundredth time.


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2 Comments

  1. One year I was a “cereal killer”. I took as old flannel shirt that I purchased at a thrift store, took an eight pack of small cereal boxes and emptied them very carefully, glued them on the shirt but first take a plastic knife and slice it into the cereal box, might want to put a little glue on them as they have a tendency to fall out. drip a little red paint on and near the knife/box. You now have a cereal killer. I won a few different contests with this costome and I still have it in my closet. People loved it.