Staff Editorial: Being Mindful of Overconsumption this Halloween

The Phoenix Editorial Board encourages students to avoid mass consumption of costume clothing and other Halloween-related goods this year.

An angel on Thursday but Barbie on Friday. On Saturday, plastic raincoats and bloody suits compile a costume as Patrick Bateman from “American Psycho.” But by Sunday, pigtails and baseball bats are sported as DC’s Harley Quinn.

Halloween used to be a day for costumes and late-night antics. Now, in college, it’s become an entire “Halloweekend” of mass consumption and outfits never to be worn again. 

In October 2022, about 55% of U.S. consumers who planned to dress up for Halloween intended to spend between $26 and $100 on their costume, while less than 10% planned to spend less than $25, according to Statista

Total Halloween expenditure in the U.S. is expected to increase about $1.4 billion from 2022, totaling an estimated $12.6 billion in spending this year — an all-time high, according to Statista.

Those who do plan to contribute to this mass amount of spending are likely to turn to e-commerce giants like Amazon for Halloween-related goods. A survey conducted by Jungle Scout found that Amazon is the most popular initial search medium, with 44% of respondents saying they typically shop at Amazon first.

It’s hard to deny the convenience of companies like Amazon. Comparatively low prices and services like Amazon Prime, which ensure fast delivery, are undeniably appealing to college students throwing together last-minute Halloweekend costumes and parties. 

However, the overconsumption habits prompted by low prices and fast delivery signal humanitarian concerns and environmental harm. Fibers from low-quality clothing produced by fast-fashion brands contribute to pollution, rapid shipping rates increase emissions and inexpensive products likely mean exploitation of workers, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

It’s unfair to place this blame entirely on consumers — unethical practices by massive businesses are largely responsible for the damage done by overconsumption and perpetuate the cycle of hyper-consumerism. 

But we do have control over where we shop, what we consume and how much we buy.

Turning to thrift stores and repurposing old costumes and clothing can be the first step in curbing Halloween overconsumption. Some local stores like Fantasy Costumes, located at 4065 N. Milwaukee Ave., offer rental options to re-exchange after the weekend is up. Resale stores near campus like Green Element and Crème de la Crème are inexpensive alternatives to finding basic pieces to complete unique costumes.

Disguised by gore, haunted houses and thriller flicks, the real horror of Halloween is deeper than the scares at the surface. Students should be mindful of the environmental impacts resulting from the overconsumption of Halloween costumes and aim to minimize their contributions to harmful practices as consumers.

Featured image by Austin Hojdar / The Phoenix

The Phoenix Editorial Board

The Phoenix Editorial Board