Ideas for Eco-Friendly Cosplay

So, what about Cosplay isn’t green already?

It’s a hobby that literally teaches people to become MacGyver’s with hot glue. A hobby that encourages using tin foil crumpled and pressed into foam with an iron to make faux leather.

And don’t even get me started on how many coupon ninja tricks you can do to achieve 50% off an entire fabric hoarding purchase.

If you’ve been in the hobby for a while, surely you already know to never use the expensive stuff when the dupe in Walmart is just as good. However…

Cosplay can always be a little more friendly to the environment and your wallet.

Going Greener for Cosplay and your wallet.
Going Greener for Cosplay and Your Wallet.

The most obvious solution use what you already have.

Closet cosplays, especially for the sewing challenged are a great starting point. Shoutout to the Supernatural, the Once Upon a Time, and Myth Buster Look-A-Likes. Street clothes are probably the most comfortable you will ever be at a con.

And just like the “wear this item, X amount of ways” challenge, seek out that one clothing piece that’s extra versatile.

The same goes for wigs that are not permanently fixed to one look. Brush out or gently wash out all that holding spray; re-heat, re-style, and re-use.

Angelic Daze Cosplay gives advice on upcycling old cosplays.
Angelic Daze Cosplay via Instagram has a wonderful walkthrough for recycling old cosplays.

WARNING: Removing foam core that is sewn in/glued into wigs can damage and might not be worth repurposing. So, do deconstruct with care.

You could even salvage fabrics from that costume you wore only a handful of times and make a new costume piece.

So, what about the thrift shops?

Now, don’t assume all thrift stores are the same. Dark, dirty, and missing a door or window. There’s more out other than just Goodwill. With a little research, you’d be surprised at how many great finds make it into Consignments such as Plato’s Closet or even Buffalo Exchange.

Find the nearest garment district and become a regular of their overstock flea markets. Train your eye to see the base for any costume piece that’s easy to add or subtract features to suit your needs. It’s a skill that will take time to practice and will save you dollars over time. Modifying see-through raincoats for cosplay does come in handy for most Blade Runner cosplay needs.

Coming up, an excellent example of using an entire bed set for Critical Role cosplay. Top sheet, mattress sheet, and a couple pillow cases later…

Thrifted fabrics made into Beauregard , Critical Role
My Beauregard cosplay made from Thrifted bedsheets.

Can’t find a resale store?

Host a Cosplay Swap Meet.

I guarantee you that someone local is dying to get rid of a few costumes. They’ve recently outgrown cosplays, have some well loved cosplays, or fell out of love mid-crafting.

Find a public space for an event (might have to charge a small entry fee to pay for the rental) or a nice park that’s easy to access from most major highways. Grab a few blankets, some sharpies for price tags, suggests dates in your local Cos Community, settle on a date and bring all the trades to the yard.

For less stress, establish guidelines for how to conduct trades.

Traditionally, Swap Meets are straight “trade for trade” with no money involved. However, if money does become involved do make it clear that the use of third party payment programs like Venmo, Paypal, Facebook Pay, and others will require consent of both parties agreeing to the trade and a grace period of “X amount of days” for payment to clear. No returns unless mutually agreed upon that the trade was not for equal value or satisfactory to said parties discretion.

If possible, have participants share preview pictures of costumes and props their wishing to swap. That way everyone has an idea of what to bring.

And let’s not forget the number one way to save.

Commission, locally.

I can hear those eyeballs rolling, but I say again, hear me out.

When learning to craft props or even full on outfits for cosplay there will always be a waste cost to both time and supplies.

Instead of recasting those gems for the 10th time, why not order a 3D print of one from a local crafter that’s perfected it?

Force Captian Pin from Shinka Studios Cosplay
Force Captain pin (She-Ra) by Shinka Studios Cosplay that I purchased from the Prop Maker Coalition at RTX, Austin – 2019.

Instead of ripping seams only to damage that very expensive fabric to remake a bodice for the umpteenth time, why not take your measurements to a Cosplay Seamstress/ Tailor. Freeing up your time to work on other things.

I know, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of wearing a cosplay that you crafted with your own two hands. But it’s okay to hand off those pieces we’re not so great at to someone who is crazy talented at making.

Its okay! Buy that prop kit and download that pattern!

Don’t feel discouraged if you can’t always keep it green when crafting for cosplays.

If you can find an alternative to anything at a fraction of the cost, it’s going to help you in the long run. But, don’t ever skimp on quality for quantity. Do the research; Use the coupons.

Supporting each other in the cosplay community not only lowers emissions with umpteenth trips back to Lowes/JoAnn Fabrics/Michaels/ that one place in the sketchy part of town; It saves you many nights of re-sewing, and frustration over pattern instructions.

I have no doubt that as a community of Makers, Crafters and frugal shoppers that going with a cleaner alternative is beneficial in the long run. So, let’s continue to work together in sharing knowledge and resources for the next generation to continue the cosplay tradition.

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