Sustainability with Kids: Their Wardrobe

clothes kids sustainability wardrobe

The clothing industry is one of the top polluting industries in the world. Babies, toddlers and children go through clothes so quickly as they grow. What can you do to create and maintain a wardrobe for your children that is more eco-friendly and sustainable?  

My tips will help the planet and your wallet!

Number 1: Second hand baby!

The majority of my toddlers wardrobe is second hand, and it has been since she was a baby. Buying new clothes, or any new product really, takes effort. It takes your time shopping, definitely your money, but more importantly the resources that go into making product.

Synthetic clothes such as polyester come from oil. Natural fibres require a plant to grow, which needs a whole lot of water, space and often many pesticides. Fibres then need processing and energy to be turned into clothes. If you source clothes second hand you are avoiding the use of all these resources that would be needed to create a t-shirt that your child will wear four times. 

Children (babies in particular) grow so quickly. There are so many great quality second hand clothes out there and sometimes you can find things with the tags still on! If you are concerned with the cleanliness of the clothes you can do a Strip and Sanitise washing technique, designed for second hand cloth nappies, that will get the clothes insanely clean and looking fantastic. 

If you have any family and friends with older children, they might be very happy to offload their old clothes onto you. Gumtree, Freecycle, Marketplace and Buy, Swap, Sell pages on Facebook often have children's clothing bundles advertised cheaply or if you are lucky for free! If you have the time, visit some local op shops and a My Kids Market to pick up some second hand bargains. If you live near Berowra, check out my local resources at the end of the article for more details. 

Number 2: Avoid abundance

Before accepting hand-me-downs or buying clothes for your bub you should ask yourself this - Will they actually wear this? How many times will they wear it? As you know, they grow so quickly. You don't want to find clothes in your kids wardrobe that was never worn and still has the tags on!  

Some types of clothes you might need a lot of. 10 onesies or 10 rompers depending on the season. They are going to get vomit and food on them and get washed everyday. Other clothes you might not get that much use out of. A 6 month old does not need four pairs of shoes. Dresses are pointless for babies that are still crawling. 

Be a mindful gatekeeper for what you let in to your child's wardrobe. If you haven't had a baby before and aren't sure how much of certain clothes will be enough, or what will be practical, ask a parent with older kids. 

Number 3: Think about fibres

Natural fibres are better than synthetic fibres. Natural fibres like cotton, bamboo and wool will decompose. Synthetic fibres, like polyester and nylon, do not decompose. They break down very slowly into microfibres, even when you wash them. The microfibres end up in waterways and damage aquatic ecosystems. So check the tag before you buy. Luckily, most children's clothes are made of natural fibres.

When comparing natural fibres in terms of sustainability you need to think about how much water it takes to grow the plant. The fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides used, and even the chemicals used when processing the plant into fabric. Obviously organic cotton is a good choice as it uses cotton grown without pesticides etc.

Cotton, however, requires a significant amount of water to grow. On average, 1 kg of cotton requires 10000L of water, even up to 20000L in different environments. Bamboo on the other hand requires a lot less water to produce the same amount of fibre. Bamboo is the fastest growing land plant in the world. It is also naturally anti-microbial, reducing the need for additional chemicals to grow the plant. It's rate of growth and water consumption make it a great candidate for a good sustainable fabric. 

Unfortunately, 95% of bamboo is chemically made into fabric. The heavy use of chemicals during processing means that most bamboo clothes aren't that environmentally friendly. Bamboo can also be processed mechanically, without the chemicals, and children's clothes made from this fabric is a good sustainable option. Petit Bamboo uses bamboo fabric that is mechanically made. 

Obviously there is no perfect sustainable fibre, every choice uses resources and has some negative environmental impact. That is why getting second hand clothes and avoiding too many clothes in your child's wardrobe in the first place are my top tips to be eco-friendly.

There are plenty of other ways for bub's wardrobe to be more sustainable such as washing with cold water, line drying and cloth nappies. What did you think of my suggestions? 

If you have a great tip to add, please let me know in the comments!

Local Resources

Facebook Buy Swap Sell Groups

My Favourite Op Shops

  • Westleigh Salvos, Eucalyptus Dr, Westleigh
  • Hornsby Salvos, 29-31 Burdett St, Hornsby
  • Asquith Lifeline, 375 Pacific Hwy Asquith
  • Waitara Lifeline, 63 Edgeworth David Ave, Waitara

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  • Cheri on

    Kiddiehood.com.au is a great place to buy or sell your kids secondhand clothes. Listings are free 😀


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