Looking to turn yourself into a lizard this Halloween?

Creative reuse centers like The Scrap Exchange in Durham, N.C., have you covered.

Or, if you’re looking to unload an old costume from last year instead of throwing it away, you can swap it with someone to commemorate National Costume Swap Day.

And for those in the Twin Cities looking to create a fancy getup, the Boo-tique at Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores in Minnesota has costumes and accessories that were collected throughout the year.

Sales are up 15% this Halloween season compared to last year across Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores, said Pam Carlson, director of community relations for Arc Greater Twin Cities, which owns the four shops.

More than 75,000 items are on sale at the Boo-tique, which is like “a store within a store,” she said.

College and high school-aged students frequent the shops around Halloween to prepare for parties. Some, she said, assemble several different outfits because they want a fresh costume for each party they go to.

“You can have a green Halloween when you shop at thrift stores. You can put together a costume for $10,” Carlson said. “You’re putting together your own. You won’t find two other people at a party with the same exact thing.”

Green Halloween, a nonprofit organization that promotes environmentally friendly Halloween practices, teamed with Swap.com and Kiwi Magazine to provide an online outlet for people to set up costume swaps.

The holiday was on Oct. 8 this year, but people can still organize swap events online, said Lynn Colwell, co-founder of Green Halloween.

About 140 registered swaps took place for the holiday this year, and there are still about three dozen that will occur in the coming weeks. Last year, there were 70 registered swaps.

“Swapping has become the new shopping,” Colwell said. “People are going to look for new ways to save money.”

The Scrap Exchange, a nonprofit reuse center, collects 40 tons of waste annually from manufacturers, businesses and residents.

Foam, zippers, plastics and household items like windows and tiles line the 22,000 square-foot center, providing a plethora of costume possibilities.

“It’s a busy season for us,” said Ann Woodward, executive director of The Scrap Exchange. “We love the fact that people are going out and showing how creative you can be with these materials.”

One year, a mother made a Wall-E costume for her son from materials she picked up at the center, Woodward said.

When the woman took her son to the mall for Halloween, the boy could barely walk around because so many people had surrounded him to get a look at his costume that was modeled after the Disney robot.

“There is unlimited opportunity,” Woodward said. “There is no idea that can’t be manifested. Whatever you can think of, you can make it here.”

MaryEllen Etienne, executive director and founder of the Reuse Alliance, said materials at reuse centers can be useful for Halloween party decorations, so “it’s not just about costuming.”

The New York-based Reuse Alliance is a nonprofit reuse advocacy group.

“This is definitely one of the biggest times of the year for the reuse industry,” Etienne said.

At The Scrap Exchange, which is a Reuse Alliance member, customers can purchase bags of varying sizes and fill them with items or they can take advantage of the open studio and pay $5 to have everything in the warehouse available to them for an hour-and-a-half.

If people are convinced that a lizard costume is the way to go, center employees will offer “technical assistance” to make it happen, she said.

“We’ll talk about how to do that,” Woodward said. “ ‘What kind of eyes do you want? What kind of scales do you want on your body?’ People can make it here.”

Contact Waste & Recycling News reporter Vince Bond Jr. at vbond@crain.com or 313-446-1653.

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