Few may give it much thought, but Halloween may be the least eco-friendly of holidays.
Last year, Americans spent $2 billion on Halloween costumes. Typically, such costumes are discarded the following day. The materials, many of which are made of polyester and plastic, eventually find their way to landfills.
A movement is under way to stem that tide. It's called National Costume Swap Day. This year, the official swap day was Oct. 8.
Swapping only half of children's costumes normally discarded would reduce annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Transportation. That amount is the equivalent to the weight of 2,500 midsize cars.
Last year's inaugural national costume swap saw more than 75 swaps taking place in 22 states. The event brought together a mix of businesses and other entities involved in the swapping and eco-friendly movement, such as its originators -- Swap.com and the nonprofit Green Halloween.
"It was natural to align with Green Halloween to form National Costume Swap Day last year," said Jeff Bennett, CEO of Swap.com. "With events taking place from Boston to California, the swap movement is really taking hold across the U.S. as families look to save cash in this post-recessionary economy."
Although Halloween costumes account for only a sliver of what ends up in landfills daily, they are a growing issue.
The purchase of costumes, on average, takes up the largest portion of a person's Halloween budget, and purchase rates have been rising since 2005, according to data from the National Retail Federation.
Rebecca Lillis, an environmental resource specialist, said she would prefer that all Halloween materials end up slated for repurposing instead of the landfill.
"There are some habits that have been established and we're trying to get our message out so that people can think about the waste they're generating," Lillis said.
(Contact Edward Ortiz of The Sacramento Bee at email@example.com. )