As the Mother of 3 boys, but also as a nature lover, you can imagine that the amount of waste my kids create may drive me a little nuts. When my 5 year old starts doodling on one piece of paper that ends up being 30 pieces with one tiny ninja drawn on each page.. in come my lectures about the “poor trees!” and “The Lorax” is read for that nights bedtime story.
But does it always work? Nope.
So what can I fix? What I’m charge of. I can control what I feed them, how I dress them, and what I buy them… for the most part.. or at least til they’re petulant teenagers.
I’ve been lucky enough that each of my kids are about 2 years apart, so once an outfit no longer fits – it automatically goes down the pipeline to the next child. But what about stained tee shirts, pilled sweaters, and holey kneed pants?
For us Mamas who care about the earth and/ or who are on a budget – these tips should help!
When I find myself with an item with stains (which is always) – I first try to stain remove, but if that’s a major fail, I opt for my “tie dye bin” – a stack of stained pieces in my closet that I save for a bi-Monthly tie-dying where all my kiddos old pieces gain new life and coveted status with fun tie dyed colors and styles that totally obliterate even the meanest oil stains. People sometimes ask me where I bought the cool tie dyed clothes my kids wear.. little do they know the outfits are pieces most people would consider garbage! To get great tie dye tips, hit up Pinterest. You can even tie-dye using natural materials you have at home like coffee and tea or berries, but the colors aren’t as vibrant as their chemical-based friends. I often even include my kids in this activity, so it’s both craft and function!
Pants with holey knees either get cut into shorts (with the remaining leg fabric going into my textile recycling bin) OR I patch up the hole/s with scraps from my textile recycling bin as knee patches! Nothing looks cuter than a little pattern popping out from the knee of a child’s denim pants. This always looks like a stylistic choice, and not a quick fix.
Upcycling is a Mama’s BFF!
Nary a cloth goes to waste in my crafty coven! Long sleeves with chewed on or stretched out sleeves become rock n roll tee shirts or tank tops, sweatshirts with destroyed elastic wrists become moto vests, old denim jackets get covered in thrifted patches or pins, there is always a way to make something old cool again!
Stretchy Pants For The Win!
There is a way one child can wear the same item for more than a year. Simply buy adjustable clothes – long dresses that can turn into minidresses as they grow, pants with elastic waistbands, leggings that can scrunched at the ankle til they fit peg legged, or just order a size up – cool baggy hoodies can turn into fun shrunken hoodies as they become less hip-hop and more punk. C’mon, we all had that stage… hopefully they’ll skip over the safety pin in the nose.
I’m gonna wash that waste right outta my hair!
Wash your kids clothes in cold water, and line dry when/ if you can. The less heat that hits your clothing, the longer they will last. You know all those balls of lint that come out of your dryer? That’s fabric and thread (and in my household, maybe cracker crumbs and cat hair too) pilling off your clothes. Try to avoid that wear and tear by cycling outfits so each item doesn’t get over used.. and ruined. The likelihood that they’ll destroy those sweatpants if they were them twice a week instead of thrice goes down exponentially when other pants can come into play! Also, as Alicia taught me in this article; ” Since wastewater can flow to the ocean, it’s important to use a Guppy Bag for your synthetic-fiber based clothing items. Guppy Bag prevents microfiber pollution. It basically acts as a filter; otherwise tiny plastic fibers will make its way to the waterways and harm our precious marine life.”
The is the end.. my lovely friend.. the end..
Pieces that cannot be saved with minimum sewing skills – like your neighbors ginormously tall child’s pleated polo pants from the 80s – may need to sashay away. But remember that there’s not a single thing that cannot be sold or donated! Any item in your household can be sent to GiveBack Box, dropped off at a Goodwill-type store, or given to a friend or neighbor with younger/ older kids who need the item you cannot use. (See 20 Ways To Ethically Purge Your Old Stuff)
Chloé Jo Davis is the Director of Digital Content at The Kind Life, a Mom of 3 human little boys, and 4 rescued pets in Connecticut.