How to Dress Your Kids Sustainably and Stylishly

Last Updated: June 10, 2024By
Clothes for Kids: Sustainable Tips and Tricks

They look adorable in that little onesie, but let’s face it: they’ll outgrow it in just three months. Even the most eco-conscious parents sometimes find themselves buying fast fashion for their kids. Trust me, I’ve been there. So, where do you even start if you want to avoid new clothes? Should you just go on a thrifting spree? You could, but it might be hard to find the right sizes or styles. And let’s be honest, one of the fun parts of parenting is dressing your kid in cute outfits.

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Luckily, eco-friendly parents across Australia have come up with smart ways to dress their kids. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but these tips can help you find what works best for your family.

Secondhand is Gold

Use-Ta! is an online second-hand clothing store that Kiri Gorter started back in 2014. She was juggling life as a mom and house cleaner when she noticed how many families struggle with clutter. With a fashion retail background, she was shocked to find herself having trouble dressing her baby. “I have expensive taste but not the budget to match,” she said. So, she created a way to help other families, herself, and the planet.

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Buying second-hand kids’ clothes is not only cheaper but also reduces your carbon footprint. Gorter says it “opens up possibilities for self-expression, especially for older kids.” Unlike regular stores that push a specific look, second-hand shopping is more random, letting you pick clothes that truly stand out.

However, some things are best bought new, like singlets, socks, and pajamas. Gorter recommends choosing high-quality items to ensure they last longer. Aim for natural fibers that will eventually break down, unlike synthetic ones that can sit in landfills for centuries.

Swap Before You Shop

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Clothing swaps are a fantastic way to get free clothes and declutter your closet. Plus, they’re social events! In 2021, Adelaide mom Jessica Gerrard teamed up with local moms to host a clothing swap at a pub. It gave parents a chance to chat without the kids, enjoy a drink, and trade clothes. Later swaps happened at a primary school and park, turning into fun picnics.

These swaps became a way to connect with other families and build community. For pregnant moms, it was a chance to get parenting tips along with baby clothes. “It feels great knowing your kids’ clothes will get another life and you’re reducing textile waste,” Gerrard said.

If you want to organize a swap, Gerrard has some tips: get other parents to help set up and pack up, reach out to community groups for promotion or venues, and ask participants to pre-sort clothes by size. Instead of piling clothes, use picnic rugs or blankets and bring reusable bags for leftovers. Donate any leftovers to organizations like Welcoming Australia or Treasure Boxes, which help families in need.

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Smart Shopping Strategies

Greta Gramazio, a fashion retail expert, balances between thrifting and buying new. She visits the same second-hand shops regularly to find fresh stock. When she buys new, she chooses long-lasting natural fibers like cotton and wool. Cotton gets softer with each wash, while wool, though needing more care, provides warmth and durability, especially handmade pieces.

Buy Nothing groups on Facebook are a great way to find kids’ clothes for free. Something I wish I’d known earlier is about “nappy libraries,” which let you try different cloth nappy brands and fits before spending big money. Some councils even offer rebates for using these libraries.

There are also cool platforms like Little Renters and Curious Kind that let you rent kids’ clothes. When your child outgrows them, you just send them back and swap for a bigger size. No worries about stains or damages! There’s a global trend of upcycling materials like blankets into kids’ clothing. A quick search on Etsy or YouTube will show you tons of creative makers.

Thinking sustainably about your kids’ clothes isn’t just about reducing carbon footprints. It’s about setting an example. When kids see their parents making thoughtful choices and building community, they’re more likely to grow up as mindful consumers looking to reduce their impact on the planet.

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