School Shopping - Create a Green Student Part 2

August 3, 2010 Two comments View all articles in Family

Your kids are healthy, strong, and growing . . . right out of their clothes. Come September, they'll be in dire need of a wardrobe update. At which point, your main priority will just be getting their ankles and midriffs covered in time for school. But what if you made this year's shopping trip more environmentally responsible? We've put together some tips to make your kids' wardrobes both Earth friendly and modern, along with ways to make their past, present, and future clothing last longer. It's a little extra time and effort added to your already busy schedule, but every step you take to green your wardrobe, or in this case your kids', helps protect our air, water, wildlife, and wilderness. Not to mention, you'll be teaching your kids environmentally responsible habits by example.


Why? Because everything from growing fibers and manufacturing fabric, to styling individual garments and shipping to retailers requires fossil fuel combustion. If you get the most out of your kids' clothes instead of needlessly buying new ones, you'll decrease global warming and conserve nonrenewable resources.

  • Depending on the age of your kid(s), gender-neutral clothes could be easier for them to share; not only with each other, but with neighbors and friends once they've outgrown them.
  • Your kids will get a few more months' wear out of their clothes if you buy them slightly larger and/or stretchier.
  • Don't buy outfits, buy versatile separates. Choose pants, shorts, tops, and sweaters that can be mixed and matched. This way, if your kids outgrow their bottoms, the tops should still work, and vice versa. Not to mention, they'll have a lot more options to choose from come laundry day. 
  • Replace the Buttons for a Different LookQuick alterations can give some clothes new and different looks or functions. You could cut off pants to make shorts or capris, or maybe just replace the buttons on a shirt.


Reusing saves natural resources both in creating the material and processing it because it's already been done. And it saves your money. So when your kids have finally outgrown or moved on from their clothes, don't just put them in the dumpster: REUSE.

  • Have a yard sale to make sure your kids' clothing lives to see another day and clothe another back. If you don't have enough merchandise for your own yard sale, get together with neighbors so there's more to attract customers.
  • If yard sales aren't your thing, just pack everything up and sell it to a consignment shop. While you're collecting their outgrown clothes, go ahead and gather their old toys and games so you only have to make one stop.
  • Maybe your family and friends have need for hand-me-downs; it couldn't hurt to ask. And if they don't want your discards, you could always leave the clothes in a box marked free on your curb.
  • If you prefer to donate, charities like Salvation Army often do pickups at your convenience and give you a receipt for tax deductions.


Fashion trends work against nearly every eco-ethic: shoppers buy clothes and then ditch them for newer styles, which leads to overconsumption. You can beat the industry at its own game by buying clothes that endure and transcend the energy and resource-wasting trends.

  • Traditional garments like blazers, jackets, and sweaters endure and are worth the extra money. If you purchase classic colors, patterns, and cuts these articles won't raise such a fuss when they're handed down.
  • Try not to let your kids pigeonhole their styles. Let them know that fashions change frequently, so they shouldn't be slaves to someone else's tastes. There are some manufacturers with organic T-shirt lines that print slogans with little or no cost. Help your kids be creative and come up with messages about being eco-friendly, or even their favorite hobbies or subjects.
  • If there's someone in your house who ‘just like totally has to have that fantastic new top,' simply buy fewer fashion items and let them be enjoyed while they're stylish. Remember to recycle them at thrift shops or sell them to consignment stores once the styles have changed.


Why? Because any clothing made of nylon, polyester, or acrylic was originally derived from fossil fuel. It takes one-third pound of pesticides and fertilizers to produce enough cotton for just one T-shirt. But buying clothes made from organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, silk, linen, or wool reduces pollution, saves energy and water, and helps reduce landfills. The easiest way to find organic clothing retailers for your kids' back to school needs is to shop online:


  • Rubber ShoesRubber processing includes compounding and mixing, milling and calendaring, extruding, coating, cooling and cutting, building, vulcanizing, and grinding. All of this generates emissions, wastewater, and solid waste material. Sustainable practices, however, properly handle wastes and healthily harvest trees. Recycled or reprocessed rubber is becoming more common and can be purchased in the form of your kids' new school shoes at websites like
  • Leather ShoesLeather processing involves the factory farming of cows and pigs and a mix of harmful chemicals to treat the animals' skin. When buying leather shoes for your kids, look for fair trade organizations; they rely on free-range cattle and good working conditions for employees. And instead of having their leather shoes replaced, get them repaired. This not only supports a local business, it saves natural resources.


Heather Tatro on Sept. 15, 2011 at 8:09 a.m.

You neglected to suggest re-sale shopping. Taking in your gently used kids clothes to a local re-sale shop and purchasing 'new' ones for your youngster is the BEST way to be an Eco-savy consumer. I buy re-sale before I buy new whenever I can. eBay is also a great resource if you're looking for something specific. My kids wear many high end, boutique and brand name clothes, it looks like I spend a fortune on their clothes. We're helping to save the planet and money at the same time!

Chasing Green on Sept. 15, 2011 at 8:53 a.m.

Good point Heather! Just took my daughter to Buffalo Exchange a few weeks ago for that very purpose.

Share Your Thoughts:

Comments are moderated to filter spam.