How do you manage to keep your child's wardrobe up to date? And what do you do with outgrown and worn-out children's clothes? Do you sell and buy online second hand clothes? Donate to charity? Hand down? or support circular fashion brands? Or are they just thrown away in the trash?
Children grow rapidly and wear out their clothes with lightning speed. Having your children dressed well is desirable, but how can you do this without spending a fortune and being sustainable? And what should we do with clothes that we no longer need? I've put together a guide with 5 sustainable ways of keeping your children's wardrobe spick and span! I suggest:
- Sell and buy kids second-hand clothes online
- Learn to mend and repair clothes
- Hand down to siblings, friends, and family members
- Give to charity
- Support sustainable and circular brands
Sell and buy online second hand clothes
Using the clothes you have is the best sustainability practice. Buying second-hand clothes is the next best thing. Finding unique pieces of pre-loved designer gems can be an absolute pleasure and money saver. However, being a parent, searching for treasures like this can be time-consuming and challenging.
Therefore, I suggest buying second-hand clothes online, all from the comfort of your home! You can find fantastic bargains if you are lucky. To be successful, filter for your child's size and the types of clothes you need. Be aware that used clothes have been washed and shrunken a bit, so opt for larger sizes if you are unsure. Buy in bulk to reduce transportation, but don't be tempted to search for clothes that aren't necessary!
An excellent website for children's second-hand clothes and accessories is Sellpy. Here the items are presented as new, making the shopping experience smooth with a superb overview. You can also filter the brands you love! In addition, they accept your pre-loved children's clothes when you are done with them. Finally, you don't have to bother with your own listings and understand how to price second-hand clothes. Just request a bag and have it shipped. Sellpy does the tedious work for you. Sites like these really help us keep our wardrobes circular!
Repair and up-cycle children's clothes
As I mentioned, using the clothes you already have is your most sustainable choice. Often, children have favourite pieces they love wearing. Seeing them be worn out and eventually having to throw them can be difficult. Other times we notice the clothes being broken and throw them away even if they still have potential. Next time you are faced with this, take a second look and assess if they are worth mending or altering. For example, worn-out or too short trousers can easily be cut into shorts. Holes can be beautifully repaired with sashiko or other visual mending techniques. Zippers can often be repaired or replaced, just like buttons or similar details.
If you can't sew or repair yourself, might another family member or friend help you? Drycleaners and other repair shops are often experienced fixing things. They are usually cheap and helpful too!
Hand down children's clothes
A perfect way to use the clothes you've bought for longer! It makes the clothes an investment being worn by multiple children over many years or even generations!
Start with buying clothes that are:
- High quality
These attributes together enable hand-me-down success! Clothes like this can be used by any child and will last and look good for long. The initial price might be higher. However, after using them on the third child, the cost per child is not expensive. It can also be a lovely gift to hand down your child's gently used designer, pre-loved clothes to your friend's younger children. Presents do not always have to be new to be appreciated!
Donate to charity
Many families have, for various reasons, difficulties with living expenses such as buying clothes. Donating your used children's clothes to charity can help out a lot. It's simple with little effort for you but can significantly impact somebody else. Make sure to donate items in good condition and prepare them:
- Wash the clothes
- Empty pockets
- Attach removable parts such as hoods
- Donate shoes clean and in pairs
- Bag up clothes in plastic bags
Choose where you want to donate the clothes and leave them in charity shops or donation bins. The pieces of clothing should, of course, be in good condition. Suppose you are handy and can repair broken parts neatly. In that case, I don't see a problem donating up-cycled items that turn out more fantastic than the original!
Support circular fashion brands
Fashion brands are becoming more aware of the pollution the industry is causing. But unfortunately, making sustainable clothes isn't enough to reach our climate goals and prevent global warming. We need to produce less, buy less and kickstart a circular economy and fashion revolution.
Thankfully, there are brands making efforts such as:
- Slow, limited, and fair production
- Use organic and sustainable materials
- Have sustainable action plans for left-over materials and products
- Implementing take-back schemes
Some brands offer to resell or create communities for reselling their used products, becoming designer second-hand clothes shops. This simplifies online second-hand shopping drastically. Imagine going to your favourite brand and finding excellent used items far cheaper than the new ones! Swedish Polarn och Pyret is doing precisely that! Hopefully, this can stimulate customers unfamiliar with searching for second-hand clothes to become intrigued and do so!
Many circular brands also offer store credit or discounts on new orders in return for your pre-loved clothes! When brands offer this and take responsibility for their product lifecycle, customers get the best value, quality, and selection combination for outfitting their children with clothes. At Snella, we offer a 30% discount on your next order in return for your used Snella clothes and accessories. We then use these pieces to either resell, up-cycle or recycle.
Example: You buy a bomber jacket from Snella for €55, which might seem a lot. You use it for two children, making the cost per child €27.5. When it is outgrown, you hand it in and get 30% of the retail price back, making the jacket cost €19.75 per child. That isn't expensive, considering the jacket is made under fair and organic conditions in Europe.
These were my 5 top tips on keeping up with your child's clothing demands and having an up-to-date wardrobe! Before throwing away the clothes, see if there is potential for selling, donating, or mending. When buying new, search for second-hand gems online or visit your favourite sustainable brand!