Clothing Kids: A Zero-Waste Conundrum

Kids grow fast. On top of that, kids are really rough on clothes. I know, these aren’t great, revelatory observations, sorry. But for zero-wasters, this is a particular problem. It seems that every other day, my older son has blown out the knee of a new pair of pants. Or, irretrievably stained a school shirt.

I’ve discovered a local kids’ used clothing store called the Lilly Bean in my town. It is very well curated and decently organized and priced. And the store has loyalty cards. Yay!

This means that by accepting hand-me-downs and buying used, we can cut way down on buying new clothing. I still think socks, underwear, shoes, and specialty clothing may be an issue, but I will look first to Lilly Bean to meet our needs.

3 pairs of pants, 3 shorts, 2 shirts, and a pair of shoes for $30.

I’m very happy with my $30 haul. Because I now keep a cloth bag in my purse, I was also able to get it home with a minimal amount of fuss. Here is the garbage and recycling produced (not including the loyalty card and receipt, which are both recyclable) :

Top is unavoidable garbage. One pair of pants was brand new and still had a size sticker. The bottom pile contains the recyclable tags.

Buying used is one element in my efforts to clothe my kids in a more zero waste fashion. I also try to treat stains and make repairs to their clothes.

Soaking in cold water and super washing soda does wonders for most stains. Peroxide gets blood out.

I also do some mending if it seems worth my time and effort.

The biggest problem right now is finding out what to do with clothes that are too damaged to be worn. Obviously, donations are the wrong place for these clothes. I have heard of recycling clothes, but I wonder if this is a big city thing.

This is a topic I hope to explore more thoroughly for the future.

So How About You?

Does the need to clothe children complicate your zero-waste ambitions? How do you solve the conundrum? What do you do with clothes that can no longer be worn? Please post your tricks below!

Until next time, keep that talk walking!

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