3 Ways Not to Buy New Clothes and Toys

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Confession: Being a mom has made me kind of a lousy environmentalist. I put my kids in disposable diapers; I pack their snacks in plastic baggies. I make quick calculations about what will save me time, freeing up a little more attention for my kids and save money for my family. And sometimes that’s the less environmentally friendly option.

I’m not immune to the guilt of my role in our growing landfills and carbon emissions. I’m just trying to get by. Then I read that a staggering 85 percent of our collective apparel ends up in a landfill — or about 70 pounds of clothing per person per year. That’s more weight (in clothes) than my heaviest child! And that’s not even counting all the toys headed for landfills.

I had to figure out some way I could do better. Here are three ways to reduce our environmental “mom-print,” at least just a little, while saving us some money and keeping stuff out of the landfill.

3 Ways to Not to Buy New Items for Kids

1. Kids on 45th delivers to your door

This West-Coast consignment store will ship hip styles perfect for your little one. It’s like Stitch Fix for your kids, and all the clothes are pre-loved! This one ticks all my boxes:

Our first Delivery from Kids on 45th
Our first Delivery from Kids on 45th
  • It’s exciting for your little one. They LOVE getting a box with their name on it. And the styles inside are tailored to their taste. When I set up my profile, I said my son loved vehicles — and so they sent a spaceship sweater (which had him over the moon).
  • It’s easy for me. You can actually sign up for a seasonal subscription and get a new box four times a year. You can also always customize to your kid’s style, new size, etc., and you don’t have to sift through websites or thrift store racks to bring home adorable styles. Example: My kids’ school doesn’t permit cartoon characters on clothes. I entered that into my profile, and I’m done.
  • It saves money compared to buying new clothes! Pants of reliably good quality are $4.49. That’s hard to beat.

2. Shop the Sales

Clothes and Toys at the MCPOM Sale

Every spring and fall, the parents of the greater D.C. area put on the most amazing series of sales of used stuff. Some are better stocked than others, but my goodness they will save you hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars a year. Go in the fall and pick out their holiday presents (seriously, I didn’t buy a single new gift last year) or stock up on cold-weather gear. At these sales, a pair of toddler pants will range from $1-$5 depending on quality. At some of these sales, like Hy-Swap, everything is free!

3. Porch Pickups

D.C. is the land of the porch pick-up. Many are announced on listservs or facebook groups throughout the area. These are little gold mines of preloved items for free or cheap. Moms, we need to keep up this trend, use it, and then do it yourself. Drawbacks: You might have to go out of your way, and you can’t control the timing.  But they are often closer than going to a store. And (this is my favorite part) they help build our community of parents. When you stop by a porch you might meet another mom face to face. You might share struggles with breast-pumping or potty-training — and get a little sip of that fellow-parent community that helps fill our cup.

What ways to you try and leave less of an environmental “mom-print”? Please share them in the comments! Also, please note that H&M offers to recycle clothing at their stores (bring clothes that are in too bad of condition that they can’t be passed onto others).

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Katherine lived on four different continents before settling in Washington, D.C., to raise her family. She works at a global think tank during the day and raises twin boys the rest of the time. When she isn't working on a spreadsheet for work, she loves walking in the forest with her family, which invariably involves stomping in puddles and climbing on logs. Though she is less of a world traveler these days, she continues to seek out adventures, from exploring D.C.'s museums and playgrounds to taking road trips to national parks. When it's time to unwind, she can be found snuggling with her husband on the couch. Likes: adventures, sleeping past 7 a.m., being surrounded by forests, the sound of her boys laughing, and locally made ice cream. Dislikes: whining, the patriarchy, and people who judge parents.

1 COMMENT

  1. I can totally relate! I have major guilt about my (and my family’s) negative effects on the environment. I am trying to focus on minimalism (reducing) and reusing, so your article has some great ideas-thanks! I do wish there were a children’s resale/ consignment shop in the District for year-round necessities–that would be so helpful!

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