Every year, back-to-school shopping promotions hit shelves. The obvious damage can be seen to families’ budgets, but the less obvious victim of the widely-promoted back-to-school shopping is the environment. School supplies are more likely to be reused onto the next year, but kids tend to outgrow their clothes. This is where sustainable clothing comes in.
Sustainable clothing is not just limited to all-organic or ethically-sourced materials, but the way users choose to consume fashion. It’s choosing not to purchase fast fashion capitalizing off current style trends, and shopping from sustainable brands or opting for secondhand option.
Sustainable products are created with environmental, economic, and social benefits for consumers and the environment. The benefits begin from their raw materials and last throughout their life cycle. Sustainable back-to-school clothes shopping is beneficial for all parties involved. It can be more budget- and environment-friendly, and the perfect opportunity to teach your kid about sustainability and climate change.
“It’s teaching our children how to live consciously, sustainably, and ethically,” Geovana Flores, one of the co-founders of the Polar Society, told Parentology. “And what better time to start teaching than when they’re learning how to learn.”
What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Products?
Sustainable clothing, and products in general, come with plenty of benefits. The most obvious benefit being environment-friendly, because the products are created to benefit the environment and consumers rather than harm them.
Choosing to be more sustainable with the products you buy is also great for your kids’ health. Textile processing uses two thousand different chemicals, including formaldehyde, lead, and mercury. Only 16 are EPA-approved. With sustainable clothing, you get to know how the products you give your kids are made, from the raw materials to the finished product you purchase.
Sustainable consumerism encourages better spending habits, a complete budget-saver when it comes to back-to-school shopping. Total back-to-school shopping accounted for nearly 17% of total retail sales back in 2017. Clothing made up a large sum of that number, with 73% of parents admitting that kids’ wardrobe took up the majority of their back-to-school budget.
Less is more, and when you are not jumping after every good deal just because it looks like one, you will ultimately be saving.
How Can You Start?
1. Don’t just dump the majority of your closet because it’s considered fast fashion and buy a new closet full of sustainable options. instead, look to see what choices can make your consumption practices more sustainable.
2. Take account of what you already have — donate what you don’t actually wear and take note of what is in your closet and what you want to add to your closet. Consider tailoring or making minor repairs to clothes that don’t quite fit right or have small tears instead of tossing them out.
3. When it comes to actually shopping for clothes, try to shop less. The world consumes around 80 billion new pieces of clothing year, a steep 400% increase than the amount the world consumed just two decades ago.
4. Back-to-school shopping season comes with plenty of sales and promotions for updating your kid’s wardrobe. A good deal on a shirt for your child may seem like one minor choice, but multiple of those smaller shopping trips add up for your budget and the environment.
5. Choose sustainable brands and products when possible and limit purchases to what you actually need.
How Do I Tell My Kid about Sustainability?
While you might be ready to start sustainable back-to-school shopping, your child might not be just so ready for the change. They still might ask you to follow the latest trends and go out shopping to get all new clothes to show off at school to their peers.
Flores offered advice for parents struggling to initiate the conversation about sustainable clothing to their kids. “As parents, we want to create a more sustainable future for you. We as a family should do our part to leave a healthy environment for you,” she said as a suggestion. “Together, we could play a role in helping some of this suffering due to climate change by helping to preserve the natural habitat.”
The conversation will most likely not have a simple starting point or ending point, but hopefully transition into a consistent practice as you and your family continue your sustainability journey.