Around 75% of clothes are largely lost to landfills or incineration, never re-entering the economy and children's wear industry has by nature a huge impact on that. Just imagine that over 183 million items of children's clothing are thrown into landfill in the UK every year and a lot of value is lost due to clothing underutilisation and the lack of reusing products and materials!
Have you ever really thought about it? Well, I certainly have and here's my little story of becoming an eco-conscious mother of two toddlers.
When I gave birth to my first daughter, I was 32 and so excited. I prepared a list of baby products that I needed to buy and that task felt like a piece of cake for me. I had worked in the parenting goods industry for 12 years so I knew what to buy and focused on the essential baby products and clothing. Soon after having the first child, I started to experience how massively underutilized baby clothes really are as children grow out of 8 sizes during their first two years of life. I had never thought about this issue so deeply but as a growing sustainable fashion advocate I felt very bad about all the waste that the children's wear industry was generating day by day. The current linear economic model just doesn’t consider what will happen to the children's clothes after they are not being used any more.
What did I do next? At first, nothing much because I didn’t find any good solution for my worries. I kept reusing the garments that I had to buy for as long as possible and when my firstborn, Isabel, grew out of her clothes, I passed these on to my friend’s child. I felt good about it and I got everything back by the time my second daughter was born. Around the time when Isabel turned 2 years old, my friend’s wife, Kristiina Koort, reached out to me. She was also a mother to a growing toddler and had experienced how piles of quality clothes are outgrown by her daughter but are far from their useful end and are taking too much space in her wardrobe. We decided to run a consumer study in order to understand how other parents felt about buying, renting and reusing children’s wear in Estonia, our home country. This study marks the start of our partnership as it motivated us to go a step further and start doing something about it that could help to redesign the way parents consume and support building a more sustainable children’s wear industry.
But how about you? Are you buying new or preloved children’s wear? What are you doing with your child’s outgrown clothes? Would you rent instead of buying new? Going forward, we’re now doing a consumer study in the UK and need your help. Please commit up to 5 minutes of your time to answering 10 questions. The survey is short and your response is greatly appreciated! Only together we could raise awareness and promote change for the better.
Click here to fill in the survey on ‘Reusing Kidswear in the United Kingdom’.
Written by Ines Karu-Salo, a mother of 2, impact entrepreneur and researcher, co-founder of The Rewear Company.