A Full Guide to Sustainable Shopping for Children’s Clothes
For the past 365 days, our followers and friends have witnessed our family go through the beautiful transition to a sustainable, mindful and minimal way of living. This transition started with one crazy and chaotic place: MY CLOSET. Before having children, and maybe even that first year while dealing with postpartum depression, I had a serious shopping addiction.
Mix a shopping addiction with zero knowledge into the horrific conditions of the fast fashion industry, and you got yourself a pretty ugly situation.
The research into sustainable, fair trade and mindful consumerism started about 18 months ago, and I have been absolutely hooked ever since. As a result, I took my time learning and understanding how much of the system works and took these tips and tricks to my own closet.
I swear…once I tackled that monster, everything else seemed to fall into place. Our kitchen, pantry, and even living room followed suit. One particular place that I have really come to love is the bedroom of my twin toddlers which features an open closet. Their closet is exactly what a child’s closet should look like:
Sweet, Simple and Easy to Work With.
By choosing each piece carefully and mindfully, I was able to create a sort of capsule wardrobe for my children without much work. It’s interesting how taking our time with selection, taking into account how many times the child will wear each piece, and sizing up for longer use can really transform any closet into a fully “usable” sustainable closet. So many times, we forget that clothes are meant to be worn over and over again until their life cycle has ended and not just a trend to toss away. Choosing wisely can mean the difference between a closet that works for you or against you.
If you are ready to explore the magical world of sustainable, second hand, fair trade (and more!) fashion for kids, look no further than this Full Guide to Sustainable Shopping for Children’s Clothes!
Saving Money While Saving the World!
First Up: Help Clothes to Reach The End of Their Lifecycle #30Wears and Beyond
Second-Hand Finds: From their heads to their toes!
First of all, what some of you may (or may not) know about our family is that we shop primarily second hand. Our sons clothes are 100% from my grandmother and mother’s garage sale finds since birth, and we did not start to introduce “new” clothing until every single last piece of their amazing finds had reached the end of their cycle with the boys. This simply means that my sons grew out of them all quite fast – as most children do.
This is something that we all need to keep in mind as parents. Children grow quickly.
Too quickly for new clothes to have any chance of sustainability in a child’s closet.
The most sustainable and eco-friendly thing that you can do as a consumer of children’s fashion is to shop second hand, vintage, rentals or any other means to help the clothes reach the end of their life cycles. Our goal here is to use and wear these materials as many times as possible before recycling or upcycling. We are talking about sustainability here and this is the facts: Nothing is more sustainable than what has already been made.
I am in no way saying that you shouldn’t feel free to support the many fair trade, ethical, eco-friendly and even upcycled brands out there. Just keep in mind that adding second-hand items to your children’s closets will genuinely help a pretty big crisis that we are facing in the world today.
Second Hand Shopping Guide
Second Hand Online Shops
ThredUP: The Largest Kids‘ Consignment and Thrift Store Online
Kid’s Dress Smart: Where 60% of proceeds of every sale sent directly to Children’s Charities
Kidizen: Kidizen is your resale marketplace to buy, sell, and swap your kid’s clothing, gear, toys, decor and more.
Little Luxuries: Gently worn, preloved, secondhand designer children and baby clothing brands
Baby Outfitter: Everything listed on Baby Outfitter is “like new” and they are very picky about selections and what they will sell!
Loopster UK: Where quality kid’s clothes live on
Facebook MarketPlace: A gem that has saved us a ton of money on everything from wooden toys to emergency shoes when our kids both shot up 2 sizes in under a month!
Second Hand Shops Nearest You (Physical Stores)
The Thrift Shopper Website: Simply type in your zip code and a huge directory of nearest consignment shops, goodwill shops and so forth will come up for you to check out!
Thriftigo APP: Download this app to keep second-hand store information readily available on your phone wherever you are!
Thrift Store Listings: Another helpful directory of local thrift stores based on your location.
Rental Companies for Sustainable Children’s Clothes
Renting clothes is such a fantastic way to stay sustainable but also have fun! From birthday parties to photoshoots, you can have exactly what you want and return back to the company for the item to make another child (and parent) happy!
Rainey’s Closet: Just one look at this gorgeous website and you will know that you can find just about any precious and gorgeous piece for any occasion. From fairy dresses, formal dresses and adorable bow and ties….you cannot go wrong with this rental service for any special occasion.
The Borrowed Boutique: Another gorgeous rental service that has a bit more clothing for boys as I noticed. I even saw a top hat!
Sylette Co: Another great rental company located in sunny Los Angelos!
Magical Clothing Rental Canada: A gorgeous rental store for our Canadian friends! Thousands to choose from and easy return service.
Bundlee UK: A very cool and more laid back version of the rental service for our UK friends. You can find pretty much everything on this rental site!
Circos Rental for Kids and Maternity: This rental is for kids up to 2 years old and new mamas in Europe!
Shopping For New Clothes: Tips & Tricks
While second hand will forever have a special place in my heart, I will say that there is something quite special about finding that *perfect* piece of clothing that just meets every single one of your needs without having to go through countless shops and racks. Sometimes, no matter how long you look, you will not find that particular item that you need second hand. Do not fear; these tips will help you to keep your sustainable goals in check while also saving money and a few headaches along the way.
Alessandro in a brand new Petit Tembo sweatshirt that just exceeded all of our expectations.
Go For the Basics
While the flashing shoes and tasselled shirts may intrigue your child at the shop, I urge you to get the basics down first before thinking of going with any trends. Basics include solid and durable t-shirts, long sleeves, sweaters, zip-ups, leggings, thermals, dungarees, rain suits/all-weather suits, rain boots, barefoot shoes, all-weather breathable hats, gloves, circular scarves, durable and warm socks, and any imperative weather gear for where you are living.
Each one of these basics should come in a solid or easy to clean print. While I always recommend going second hand with most of any child’s closet, some superb brands offer these basics. One brand that I always check out sale season (late summer and late winter) is Patagonia. They have, by far, the best layering pieces that I have encountered. I stock up during sale season, and I always keep on eye out for them when second-hand shopping.
Size Up 1-2 Sizes
One of the easiest things that you can do to help your child’s clothes have a longer (and happier!) life is to have them worn as much as possible!
One easy way to do this is by sizing up 1-2 sizes, depending on your child. I personally size up 2 sizes for the boys and it has worked beautifully. This year we’ve only had to purchase 2 pairs of pants and 2 extra sweatshirts for the chilly weather. By sizing up, I saved a significant amount of money!
While my sons currently fit in a size 2T, I only search for 4T and even have all of our collaborations send over the larger sizes. Any parent can easily roll up or hem the clothes to fit the child at the time and let them out over the years. You do not have to be any sort of professional tailor here, I promise you! I do the simple roll-up method, and it works like a charm.
Ask The Question: How Many Times Will This Be Worn?
While we will be asking many questions along the way, this first question will help you to steer clear of any items that you should save for the RENTAL category. If you hold up an item and cannot guarantee that your child will hit at least 30 wears, then simply put it down and step away from the item (this is a wonderful trick to work for parents too!).
If you can guarantee that the item will be work 30+ times, then you can move on to the following questions…
Two Key Follow Up Questions
Here are two key questions to ask before adding the item to your little one’s closet for the most sustainable and ethical approach:
- Who made this and under what conditions? A simple question that should be asked before purchasing any item. Most importantly, a sustainable company will have this information readily available to you without any trouble whatsoever. In fact, the good guys want to share this information with you more than anything!
- What is this made of? Take a look at the tag and check out the fabrics. Is it organic? Synthetic? Does it contain flame retardants? All very good questions to answer before allowing the item into your home and opening your wallet to support the brand.
Always Choose Natural Fibers over Synthetic
Linen, Organic Cotton, and hemp are some of the best materials for children’s clothing. Synthetic materials do have a place in fashion for durable swimsuits and even winter jackets, but try your best to keep these purchases for the second-hand category. We want to aim to decrease the use of plastic in the fashion industry and your money truly does make a huge difference.
Natural fibers are best for the environment and your children for so many reasons:
- Natural fibers cause much less (or zero) irritation to skin.
- Natura fibers are much less resource-intensive to produce and manufacture.
- Synthetic materials “shed” microplastics that have been found sneaking their way into our very own drinking water.
- Many synthetic materials use toxic production processes that are harmful to the waterways, the garment workers and the person who wears the item.
Learn How to Mend, Repair and Upcycle
One of the best ways to help to reduce waste your very own home is to learn just a few simple tricks of the trade. This can be as simple as learning how to sew, hem, patch and upcycle old clothes and broken items around the house. Like we always say, there is nothing more sustainable than what you already own!
You can find a local sewing class, take a few online lessons via youtube or even host a little “trade” party! I have actually been to a few fun coffee dates where my friend’s mother and grandmother would come and they would teach us something fun like knitting, baking an epic cake or even tips & tricks to help with the little ones. These are marvelous gifts to learn from the hand of an expert and I cannot tell you how much I cherished learning these skills from these amazing women.
There you have it! Just a few helpful ways to shop with a more mindful and sustainable approach. I promise you; once you start you will be absolutely amazed at how GREAT it feels to be part of the sustainable movement. We need you. The World needs us to be much more mindful and conscious of our consumer decisions. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and I would love to hear your own tips and tricks to sustainable living!
p.s. Check out our top 5 sustainable and ethical children’s brands here!