Is children's clothing disposable?

As any great entrepreneur does, I have spent many hours talking about my products to family, friends, coworkers, and basically anyone willing to listen. Why? Because I believe that sustainable skin-friendly clothing is the future of fashion, and I want to understand others' perspective too. We owe it to our children's health and the earth to make better choices when we shop. But much to my dismay, not everyone is onboard. In fact, I have discovered that while parents are willing to pay the big bucks for high-end and sustainably made adult clothing, children's clothing is viewed as something you can just throw away. This begs the question, "is children's clothing disposable?" You already know my answer, but here's a little extra food for thought...

Definitely not

We can't deny it - children grow up quickly. What fits like a glove in September might be bursting at the seams by Spring Break. But does that mean that you you should buy the cheapest clothing possible and throw it out next year? No!!! Here are a few reasons why...

1. Polyester and other synthetic fabrics are found in roughly 60% of clothing for sale [3]. None of these materials are good for your skin or the environment. In fact, polyester is simply a form of plastic. It takes upward of 450 years for it to decompose. If you're buying inexpensive clothing for your children with the intent to cycle through it quickly, all you're doing is adding waste to our world while exposing your kids to potentially harmful chemicals embedded in the fabric. 

2. Did you know that 85% of our clothes either end up in landfills or are burned [2]? Is that sustainable? No. Is that a cycle we should perpetuate by viewing children's clothing as disposable? Certainly not.

3. Get this... most people wear 20% of the clothes in their wardrobe 80% of the time [1]. That means you don't have to buy more clothing. You just have to buy clothing you'll actually wear. Less clothing to buy means less money spent, closet space saved, and landfill waste abated. Triple win right there.

4. Have multiple kids? Buy clothing with the intent to use it for more than one child. Once again, you'll save money, valuable time, and waste generated.

5. Even if you have one child and he/she outgrows his/her clothing, that doesn't mean it's time for disposal. Ever think about repurposing old threads for something else? My mom used to take my old t-shirts and turn them into quilts. I still own and cherish them. 

The verdict? Children's clothing is most certainly NOT disposable (or at least it shouldn't be viewed that way). In fact, there are many reasons - money, time, comfort, environmental impact, etc. - to incentivize using kids clothes for as long as possible. What steps can you take to change your habits? Let's have a look...

Let's review

It's important that we change our opinion about the useful life of children's clothes. Here are some quick tips for how to do so.

1. Buy for quality, not for quantity. Building a capsule wardrobe for your child limits the amount of unused clothing in his/her closet and saves money!

2. Forget the polyester and synthetic fabrics. Choose plant based, biodegradable, and skin-friendly fibers like cotton, linen, hemp, and TENCEL™ lyocell. You may have to dispose of your child's clothes eventually. Might as well know that they'll be gentle on your children's skin and properly decompose when the time comes.

3. Choose timeless and unisex styles so you can pass clothes down from child to child regardless of gender. 

4. Repurpose old clothes for new needs. Blankets, head bands, art supplies, cleaning rags... just a few of the many ideas for how to use clothes after your child outgrows them.

Simple actions that can yield big results for your wallet, your children's wellbeing, and our environment. 

  

References:

1. Karol, Gabrielle for The Muse. (2021). 9 Amazing Ways to Maximize Your Wardrobe. https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-amazing-ways-to-maximize-your-wardrobe.

2. Portela, Valentina for The California Public Interest Research Group. (2021). The Fashion Industry Waste us Drastically Contributing to Climate Change. https://calpirg.org/blogs/blog/cap/fashion-industry-waste-drastically-contributing-climate-change.

3. Pruden, James for The Robin Report. (2017). Preference for Polyester May Make Fast Fashion Brands Vulnerable. https://www.therobinreport.com/preference-for-polyester-may-make-fast-fashion-brands-vulnerable/.

 


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