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Children grow quickly and wear out clothes like crazy. In the blink of an eye, a perfect pair of pants now doesn't reach the ankles anymore. Brand new pants come home with holes in the knees after a few weeks.
Because children seem to outgrow and wear out their clothes so quickly, we might be tempted to believe that fast fashion is the only way we can afford to dress our kids. How can we consider investing in sustainable clothes for children when it feels like they won't last anyway?
Fortunately, we can dress our children in sustainable clothes without spending a fortune. Fast fashion is actually much more expensive than the initial price tag implies. Investing in sustainable fashion for kids is possible and important for many of us, and at times more affordable and definitely less stressful.
Investing in sustainable clothes is not only less stressful.
Consider the Cost per WearThe price tags on clothes often don't reflect the long-term cost of dressing our kids. It's important to consider the cost per wear or total cost of an item over the number of times it is worn.
For example, a shirt that costs 3€ but falls apart after 2 wears has a cost per wear of 1,50€. A shirt that costs 15€ however, but lasts for 20 wears, has a cost per wear of just 0,75€. Although the more expensive shirt costs five times as much as the cheaper alternative upfront, we actually save money in the long run by buying the more expensive shirt and taking care to make it last.
Fast fashion junk falls apart quickly. Fads and trends rise and die in a matter of weeks and these clothes become obsolete just as fast. When we buy high-quality, long-lasting basics that can stand the test of time, we support our bank accounts and ease the burden on the environment.
How to consider the cost per wear
Invest in Pieces That LastRelated to cost per wear, we benefit from investing in sustainable clothes that last for our children. Each item of new clothing that we buy requires the consumption of more resources from our depleting supply on this planet. We're running out of time and space to rely on disposable clothing.
When we invest in pieces that have longer lives, we save money and teach our children the importance of caring for the things that they own. We also reinforce important principles that we should purchase with intention, think wisely about how we spend our money, and be mindful of the goods we consume. The world might be our oyster, but it is not our oyster to trash.
Investing in long-lasting clothing also reduces stress. Who has time to constantly buy new clothes to replace the tattered shreds that fast fashion becomes after just a few washes and wears? Buy some peace of mind by investing in sustainable clothes for kids so you'll only need to dedicate time to replenish your kids' wardrobes a couple of times per year.
Moral Responsibility MattersAlthough not everyone can afford high-end clothing, the volume of clothing that ends up wasted in many countries suggests that most of us can afford to buy fewer items that cost a little more without impacting our budget. Such a trade-off can have a big impact on reducing the demand for cheap and poorly made items produced in sweatshops and with slave labor.
Most of us can afford to reflect on how much clothing we buy for our kids and challenge the status quo that they need so many items. Instead, we can buy fewer items that will last and can be passed down to siblings, cousins, or friends. This way we invest our hard-earned money in ethical and sustainable labor markets without breaking the bank.
Our Landfills Are ExplodingWe just can't keep tossing so much textiles into the trash anymore. Our landfills are overflowing with fast-fashion items and the rate of disposal seems ever-increasing. The United States alone sends 10.5 million tons of textile waste to the trash each year. Britons throw out over 200 millions articles of clothing each year.
Textiles often can ́t be recycled or reused, and they don't decompose efficiently or quickly in landfills if they decompose at all (depending on the fabric of the clothing). We have to stop treating clothing like it's disposable!
Spend More on Basics
Investing in special occasion outfits that kids rarely wear is harder, because our children do not wear them often. Simple basics, however, deserve a greater investment. They can be worn frequently, mixed and matched regularly, and mended with cute patches, stitches or dye to lengthen their life and add unique design over time. With a bit of love and care, our basics might even get better over time.
Buying sustainable clothes for children is possible without blowing our budgets as long as we spend thoughtfully. Well-made clothes last longer despite children's wear and tear. They are easier to mend and the styles don't become obsolete over time. Investment in high-quality, everyday clothing for our children makes social, environmental, and financial sense.
Jen has a passion for pairing her creative pursuits and big ideas to translate emerging topics in sustainable living into actionable habits everyday families can employ. She is a parent, a member of the Executive Team for Ethical Writers and Creatives, and a Board Member and Treasurer of her local library. You can count on Jen and her work to inspire modern families to rethink the status quo because our choices today can light a brighter tomorrow.