The Kids Clothing Challenge Faced by Parents

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kid by tree

In the world of green parenting there are a couple of hot topics that seem to creep up with great frequency:

  1.  The Great Diaper Debate (let’s leave this one for another time).
  2.  The clothing challenge – let’s lay it out on the table.

As a parent you look to pass on your learning’s to the next generation, it is just a natural thing. Being a green parent means passing down your green values to your kids and this affects all aspects of your life. From the food we eat, to the way we build and run our homes (solar power, recycled glass counter tops) to what we wear – naturally, we look to be as sustainable as possible wherever possible. We are aware that there is a great impact on the environment when it comes to the fashion industry and the textile choices we make.

There is no lack of great organic or eco-friendly clothing out there for all ages (but mainly for adults), in The Shirt on Your Back – we found great major retailers that had eco-choices, eBay features a great line of clothing called PreLoved. There are even retailers taking used clothing and turning them into shoes! Check out Brooks Green Silence shoe line.

The catch is our pocket books can sometimes rule our choice. The reality is, in some cases being green means spending green. So the challenge with kids’ clothes is how often are you going to be shelling out more for a “green” clothing choice when you know that the clothing may not have a long life in your house due to:

  1. How quickly kids grow out of clothes.
  2. How rough the toddler to pre-teen set are on their clothes (they cannot always be handed down to the next tyke or sent to second hand stores, they are too worn).

As a parent of two girls, I am doing my best to look for sustainable clothing, not just because I want to reduce my family’s impact on the environment, but because I find sustainable clothing better for my health.

What do I mean by this? Here are reason’s beyond the environment, that I choose organic or fabrics like bamboo over traditional textiles:

  • Their softness. We live in a town where winters are cold and dry. I have found organics are softer on my kid’s skin, causing less irritation to their dry winter skin (dry despite our use of lavender oils after bath time).
  • Fewer chemicals in the processing. Even after a wash, we had an outfit purchased from a chain store cause a rash on our ten month olds skin; we have not had this issue with sustainable fabrics.
  • Style. Eco fashion for kids seem to be simple – yes you can find ones with frills, but you can also find a plain shirt, with no ruffles that is a great layering piece for several outfits. I have found while shopping in large kid chain stores, that you can’t mix and match outfits due to the loud patterns that only work with a certain pair of pants or a jacket. My current favorite lineup is Mini Mioche, a Canadian line that has kids basics in colors that are easy to mix and match!

The reality is, with two girls, I plan on clothing being passed from the older to the younger. I have to in order for the additional 25% I spend on green clothing to be financially viable for our family. When it comes to picking out the clothing I now always think in terms of:

  • What size will allow them to get the most use out of the clothing? I find myself always buying a size larger than they are currently wearing.
  • When will they be wearing this item? Daycare clothes get put through the ringer, with paint, lunch and other rough play taking their toll on all clothing. So I look for fabrics that can stand up to this rough housing and frequent washing.
  • Can this item be worn with multiple outfits?

Recently I have gotten together with neighborhood moms and we are swapping clothing. We seem to all have kids around the same ages, and if we are looking for new clothes we knock on each other’s doors and do a swap – a dress for a pair of pants either of our kids has outgrown, or even if we just need a couple fresh looks for our kids.

There is no solution to the reality that “green” clothing can cost more, but at least I can offer ways to maybe re-think the clothing challenge. Being green is very important to me, so even with a budget I am on the hunt for solutions.