How to Safely Recycle Old Cosplay and Props

Post by guest contributor Brooke Chaplan.

Most cosplay can be reused, but there will come a time when old costumes need to be repurposed due to size, expense, or just age. When it comes time to get rid of your old cosplay outfits and props, the trash can might not be the best option. Those props and pieces of clothing are often filled with materials that must be safely recycled, and tossing them in the trash could potentially be a health hazard. Even just regular fabric often cannot be recycled easily and ends up more often than not in the landfill. To avoid causing a strain on the environment, follow these simple steps.

Reuse What You Can

In many cases, costume parts and props can be broken down or reused for different projects if the cosplay they were originally created for is no longer viable. Old cosplay that no longer fits could also be gifted to younger cosplayers. Materials that have been ripped or broken could still have useable parts for other projects. Wire, padding, and mesh can be removed and reused. Be creative and see what you can still make use of!

Separate the Materials

If there is no way for you to use or give away old materials, then it’s time to recycle. The very first step in this process is breaking down all of the props and clothing. As you are taking all of the items apart, you should group similar materials so that they are easier to dispose of. You can create separate piles for plastic, metal, fabric, leather, wood, and polystyrene. Once the items have been broken down and separated, you can then decide which materials need to be recycled and what can be thrown away.

Take Metal to a Metal Recycler

A lot of cosplay and props use wire and metal pieces for structure or stability, such as to create high collars or shiny decorative pieces. Steel wire, aluminum, and copper recycling should be relatively simple as long as you have a nearby recycling center. Some recycling operations and salvage yards could even give you a little bit of money if the metal is still usable. Before you head to the recycling center or salvage yard, you should call ahead to see which materials they accept. Your local salvage yard might accept all types of materials, and that is going to make this process much easier.

Repurpose or Reuse Clean Fabric

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to recycle fabric, but that doesn’t mean that your clothing needs to go to waste. As long as the fabric is relatively clean, you can reuse it in a wide variety of ways. You might want to keep some of the fabric for future outfits that you plan on making. Clean fabric can also be cut into strips and used as rags.

If there are any cosplay items that you aren’t sure what to do with, then you might want to contact your local waste management company. That company should be able to provide you with comprehensive instructions on how to properly dispose of any materials that you have.


Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan

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