The 7 Rs of Back To School?
Recess. Rulers. Report cards (bleh). Reading. Review. A(R)ithmetic…
Ok, so there aren’t quite 7 Rs of School. But there are 7 Rs of Fashion! And they do apply to school… our school wardrobes that is. So I guess we can kinda say there’s 7, right? Close enough.
Most people’s heads would spin around twice if you told them there were 4 more Rs to the circular cycle that most already feel overwhelmed by. What more could you possibly do with a glass jar, a tin can, and the shreddings from the morning newspaper, let alone the clothing in your wardrobe. Well, you’re about to find out. Prepare for your head to spin. Twice.
Everyone remembers their children’s first day of school. The nervous laughter, lunchboxes clenched tightly, marching as a little army all clad in newly minted graphic tees and printed shorts. Would they laugh a little less if they wore their sneakers from last year? Would fights break out amongst the 6th graders and the 2nd graders over who wore the crop linen pant better? Most likely not.
Focus your efforts on pre-school activities and books instead of a whole new back to school wardrobe. What you don’t need won’t kill you.
These days, there’s so much choice for kids at the local thrift shop. Many clothes have hardly been worn! But what about the hand-me-down? It’s eco-friendly and free. What your eldest one has grown out of your little one can take pride in! Take those overalls that are just a smidge too tight and pass them down. You could even get your kids in on the fun by encouraging them to decorate the new piece of their wardrobe to make it their own. Arm yourself with sequins, fabric paint, and coloured thread for maximum creativity points.
After all, don’t blame the poor overalls, it’s not their fault. They deserve to be loved for just a little bit longer.
You recycle every day. That yogurt cup, an expired coupon, glass bottles (milk or wine, we’ll never tell), amongst tons of other packaging used in both food and home goods. So why not our clothes?! The said overall (refer to Reuse) has lived a lofty and fulfilled life, having clothed two little bodies for countless happy days in the sun, cookie binges (chocolate stains included), and tag in the park. What now? They don’t fit either one of your munchkins, they’re decked out in stains galore and are falling apart at the seam. Recycle ‘em.
Some of the municipalities in Canada are beginning to facilitate the disposal of textile waste through pick up programs and drop off bins. If you’re in the city of Markham these depots are quickly taking over the city tackling textile waste, one pair of overalls at a time. If you live elsewhere hit up the closest H&M to add your worn out textiles to their garment collection program.
The New Kids on the Block
That’s right. It’s not just for the kids. Research, research, research. Ask those important questions! The ‘whys’, the ‘hows’, and the ‘wheres’! Dig deep into the production of some children’s apparel brands on the market and you may not like what you see.
A good rule of thumb is to look for brands that display their ethos loud and proud (on their website, or with Fair Trade logos on their tags), with no intention of obscuring the truth behind their production and sourcing. Whether it be fair living wages for their workers, the use of recycled textiles, or a reduction in water usage there are so many great brands on the front lines of the ethical fashion movement.
Got an old and tired bathrobe? Add buttons and some stuffing and you have a teddy bear. Got a stained t-shirt? Snip it up and sew it into house rags. Got a pair of jeans that have seen better days? Make a coin purse. You get the picture. Everything that is old can be new again with a little imagination and a sewing kit.
Have your kiddos brainstorm what some of their well loved clothes could transform into. I’m sure they would be happy to draw you a well detailed (if not slightly over crayon-ed) blueprint.
Wait! Don’t put the sewing kit away! There are socks to be darned and pants to be hemmed! You guessed it, spare and repair. Whether you’re a self-taught warrior or employ the hands of a more seasoned professional, repairing your clothes can be both easy and cost effective. There’s even a whole new hip thang called visible mending!
Our tip is to keep a basket or bin in the house, closets are usually best, with a number of clothing that requires some extra love. Once you have a moment to yourself or are on your way to the seamstress, the bin will be nicely organized and ready to go.
Your 14-year-old boy is a string bean but insists on wearing a suit for his graduation. You’re attending a wedding and your 10-year-old daughter has nothing to wear. Do you buy the special occasion items that will be too small in a flash? Why would you when you can rent them?
Check into children’s clothing rentals in your area and save yourself the migraine (and money) of suit shopping for a 14 year old. If there are none to be found, try the free version of renting, called borrowing! Never stress over a grad, wedding, or birthday party again. You’re welcome.
School is always the bearer of new changes as the leaves fall to the ground and it becomes acceptable to pack extra pumpkin pie in your kid’s lunch. So many words come to mind. Renewal. Reinvention. Reconstruction. Of your projects, your spirits, your attitude, but also, your wardrobe.
Take a couple extra steps this fall and make the commitment to a more sustainable wardrobe for your family. When your kids look back they’ll fondly remember the old pair of jeans that cheered on with them as they won capture the flag, the holy mittens that once were strong enough to bear a million tiny snowflakes, the cotton undershirt that hugged them in the chill of early spring. But most of all they will remember the care that was taken by a parent who bought them, repaired them, cared for them, and cherished them.
To all of the clothes that protect, shield, warm, and comfort our children. We salute you.