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How to Shop Fair and Ethical with Kids

I am Mom to a 13 year old boy and an 11 year old girl who is passionate about fair trade and ethical clothing. I have favorite ways of shopping...

I am Mom to a 13 year old boy and an 11 year old girl who is passionate about fair trade and ethical clothing. I have favorite ways of shopping ethically for myself, but what about my kids?

(Image: Eden by Elegantees)

Kids of all ages grow FAST and are notoriously hard on their clothes, so though I might be able to justify spending a bit more on ethically made items that I’ll wear for years I can’t afford to do that for my kids every time they grow. While I don’t have all of the answers, I do have a few tips for being a conscious consumer AND still keeping my kids clothed on a budget!

There are several companies who are producing ethical kids’ clothing at a reasonable price and wonderful quality, including Pact,  Eden by Elegantees, and  Primary, but sometimes being an ethical shopper takes more creativity than just buying new.

(Image: Eden by Elegantees)

**Shop Secondhand.  Secondhand fashion is ethical because it keeps useable items out of landfill in addition to the fact no new (potential) slave labor is used in the manufacturing process.   Whether it’s your local thrift store, online at places like ThredUp & Poshmark or even Facebook Marketplace there are often great items available at an incredible price. Recently, I was able to buy my daughter two pairs of trendy sneakers on Facebook Marketplace that were in perfect condition. Not only did I make my tween extremely happy, but I saved money by buying 2 pairs for less than the price of one new one! 

***Clothing swaps.  Clothing swaps are a FREE way to get clothes secondhand. Once a year the moms group at my church has a clothing swap. Ladies bring the clothes  their kids are no longer wear and everyone can “shop” what they need. Leftovers are donated to families in need or to the local thrift store. Not part of a moms group? Host a playdate at your house with your friends!

**Repair what you have. Instead of throwing away an item that has seen better days and replacing it with something new, repair what you have. I am NOT a seamstress, but I know how to work a sewing machine so when a friend was getting rid of a basic one several years ago I took it off her hands. When my daughter has ripped knees in her jeans I hem them up and turn them into shorts. My son recently the zipper ¾ of the way off his Boy Scout zip off pants and I was able to sew the zipper on the rest of the way, which saved me from buying him a new pair of these expensive pants.

**Buy less. Sometimes buying from big box retailers is unavoidable. When the above options aren’t reasonable there’s always your favorite store that offers $5 kids shirts. This is a journey and sometimes a $7 sale on kids jeans means stocking up for winter.  When you’re in this position, buy only what you need.  Many of us have had the “Oh my goodness . . . it’s cute, it’s on sale and my child would love it” experience, but I’m buying as little new as possible in these situations and sticking only to true needs.. Sure, there are times I see something that’s amazing and I know they would love, but only get it if they need it. This cuts down on clutter in my house, it cuts down on my spending, AND it cuts down on me contributing to fast fashion.

(Image: Eden by Elegantees)

For more resources for parents, check out Still Being Molly’s Kid’s Clothing Directory.

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