One moment they barely fill into their pants, you blink and their legs are already sticking out! Kids just grow up at such a fast pace they are in constant need of new clothes, but while buying the clothes can be a hassle another thing that we sometimes forget is clothes disposal. More than 85% of clothes end up in landfills and as textiles can take about 200 years to decompose, they stay there slowly choking the earth. But you can help reverse this! Make your kid's childhood sustainable by ensuring that their clothes are disposed of sustainably!
We got into a conversation with Kirti Poonia(Relove) and Varsha (a mommy of a three-year-old), to understand how they disposed of clothing sustainably, we also added in the information collected from our Instagram community to create the perfect guide for you to do your kids clothes disposal sustainably!
What is sustainable disposal of clothes?
“I think in any way that it does not go into the landfill, either through reuse, upcycling, or recycling, “answers Kirti. Sustainable disposal of clothing aims to reduce the number of garments that end up in landfill and instead find ways to help keep them in circulation, all while helping the earth!
If you have certain clothing items of your kids you want to dispose of, you can:
- Repair it
- Return it/ Recycle it
- Upcycle it
- Swap it
- Donate it
- Resell it
- Compost it
The methods have been elaborated below for your convenience!
Are you disposing of your kids’ clothing because of small tears or holes? would you still use the clothing if the damage wasn’t there? If yes, then instead of disposing of your kids’ clothing you should be repairing it! If you don't have the time to be able to repair damage on your own you can seek a neighborhood tailor or repair shops online that will be more than happy to help you out. repairing clothes ensures that it lives a full life and after that, you can resell those clothes! (Yes, damaged ones too! More information below)
Return it/ Recycle it
Many sustainable brands today follow the principle of circular fashion and in line with that offer returns on their clothing! You simply have to visit their outlets and return the clothes purchased from them! If your brand does not offer returns, you can look for brands like H&M that take your old clothing and give you discounts on new products. The clothes collected are then recycled and made into new products!
Upcycling is the process of repurposing waste textiles into something new and giving them a new purpose.
Upcycling can be a fun and creative way to give your kid's clothes a new use. You can make cutesy tote bags out of t-shirts or pretty Lil scarves and headbands from skirts, or a funny doll out of your kid's jumper, the options are endless! An idea we love, given by Sreedevi Renjith, is of making it into a quilt! Your kids’ old clothing artistically joined to make them a quilt that can keep them warm, how cute is that? You can look at organizations like: Oh Scrap Madras
You can also make upcycling a fun activity where your kids have loads of merry trying to make stuff out of their old clothing! It can also be a way to teach kids about upcycling and sustainability without being boring!
Kirti loves swap parties! And so will you once you find out how fun they are. Swap parties are a great way to give your kid's clothing a new life while also gaining new clothes. Host a small brunch and invite your friends and acquaintances who have kids, the condition to state on the invitation would be: to bring their kid’s pre-loved clothes with them! After that, it’s just hours of playful banter and swapping of clothing, who said disposing of clothing had to be boring?
The kindest way to let go of old clothing would be to donate it to the underprivileged. Seeing the kids run around in your Lil one’s old clothing and the wide grins on their faces is enough to make it all worth it!
You can either donate it to an organization or to people who you know might need them! For clothes that her daughter has grown out of Varsha donates them to her maid, she says, “I kind of dispose it to my maid because she has a child, who's a girl and is one year younger than my daughter so I feel that's the best option, you can help them and they help you in return.”
An issue Kriti raises with donating is that we sometimes we don't really know what happens to the clothes after we donate them, she says, "if you are donating then make sure you are donating to the right place, because often we just give it to somebody at home who is not really going to use it. They are throwing it and you are not aware that they are throwing it, that's worse because it's not responsible disposing at all and we clear our conscience by saying we gave it to somebody!"
“My daughter doesn't wear full sleeves and full pants, and I have so many of them which are just brought because we like it but she's not ready to wear it those are kept like that, from this a question arises what do I do with them?” asks Varsha, this is a problem faced by many parents. If you are currently staring at a pile of clothes that have been minimally used and will most likely not be worn again you should look into selling them!
Some websites that you can use to resell preloved kid's clothes in India are - Tiny Things, Sold Resold, and Up Tot, among others. You can also log on to Facebook and find groups that deal in pre-loved kid's clothing, you'll be able to connect with like-minded people who will be interested in buying your kid's pre-loved clothing!
Can I sell damaged clothing too?
Yes, answers Kirti,” we had a dress come in which had small pen marks and we told the buyer we are not shipping this garment for this reason, and she was like hey I don't mind because my kid is going to add one more pen mark to it and she took the dress.” Relove has made selling damaged clothing online easier with it’s new feature called Rescue! You can also sell clothing online through other thrift platforms, just make sure to state the level of damage correctly so as to not surprise the buyers.
Did you know that your kid’s old clothes can become food for your plants? Surprising but it’s true! Clothes made out of 100% natural fabrics can be made into compost! You can check if the clothing you have is biodegradable or not by looking at the tag, it will mention the fabrics used and in what percentage, based on that, if possible, you can remove the non-organic parts and then compost the rest.
While sustainable disposal of clothing is a great way of helping the Earth, Kirti and Varsha both agree that sustainability starts with buying. Buy clothing for your kids only when they need more and try to cut down on impulsive purchases as much as possible.
Another way to make buying sustainable is to buy smart: “I had a dress which had a belt and I wore that dress for 4-5 years right where the belt every time could be adjusted, it was like a very easy singlet dress, so I could grow with the dress!” says Kirti, she suggests buying clothes that can be used for a long time.
Lastly, you are now armed with information on how to dispose of your kid's clothes sustainably, go on make the earth proud!