Eco-Friendly Cosplay: The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Creation

Last updated:
Eco-Friendly Cosplay: The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Creation

How To Generate Zero Waste In Cosplay

Since the 1990s, cosplay has surged in popularity, becoming a profitable industry with an incredible net worth of between $25 and $50 billion. Costumes are becoming more elaborate and conventions are spreading all around the globe. Cosplay is even inspiring our everyday style.

You can head to work wearing a leather jacket just like Luke Skywalker’s or slip on a Deadpool inspired red and black jacket for your next night out. But while you may be able to buy cosplay inspired leather jackets like the iconic Bruce Lee's jacket, straight off the peg, each year cosplayers spend thousands crafting costumes and accessories. But with each amazing cosplay comes all those discarded failed attempts and inevitable leftover materials. Luckily, achieving zero waste in cosplay is possible with a little thought, time, and effort.

Use What You Have

When it comes to creating cosplay accessories, it's important to understand what leather is, a natural material made from the hides of animals, primarily cows. Leather is known for its durability and versatility, making it a great choice for cosplay projects. And by using natural materials like leather, we can also play our part in reducing the environmental impact of our hobby. With over 15 million tons of textile waste being produced each year in the U.S., using items we already have, such as old leather belts, shoes, bags, and jackets, and repurpose them into holsters and straps for cosplay costumes is a great way to reduce waste. This guide on leather can help you understand more about the material and its use in cosplay.

Use Thrift Shops

Leather is perfect for creating ancient, fantasy, or medieval characters. It’s also great if you want to cosplay some more modern characters. Thrift shops are ideal for finding affordable leather items that you can repurpose. But not all thrift shops are the same. Some are hiding some fantastic finds that you can transform into your next costume. Don't forget to take care of your leather product properly to maintain its quality.

Do your research and find which thrift shops offer the best leather items that you can repurpose. It’s also worth finding your nearest garment district and becoming a regular at flea markets. Focus on the base of a costume piece that’s easy to add or take away features that work best for your needs. This will take time and practice, but over time will save you dollars and wasted fabric.

Host A Cosplay Swap Meet

Around 43% of cosplayers create up to two new costumes each year while 25% create at least five. But while they may still be in pretty good condition, many of these costumes will never be worn again. However, as leather is a thick and sturdy material, it remains wonderfully durable and can hold its shape through multiple wears. Instead of trashing your unwanted cosplays, host a cosplay swap meet instead.

This gives you and likeminded people the chance to get together and swap or buy and sell unwanted costumes and props. Make sure the guidelines for trading are clear up front and if possible, have participants share photos of costumes and props that they are wishing to swap beforehand. This will give everyone an idea of what to bring.

Achieving waste-free, eco-friendly cosplaying doesn’t have to be hard or complicated and certainly doesn't take any of the fun out of creating your cosplay costumes. Being just a little bit more aware of what you buy and what you use for cosplay will not only save you money but also help save the planet, too. And if you're looking for inspiration, check out our list of 10 leather jackets from famous movies that are perfect for sustainable cosplay.

Discover More View all