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Recycling Kids Stuff

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Every year, Americans spend a whopping $33 billion dollars on kids' clothes, clothes tots are likely to outgrow long before they show any sign of wear. This stat may seem overwhelming, but there are things a parent can do to combat this proliferation of wasted purchases and money. Below are some great, eco-friendly tips that'll keep more green in your pocket and green your lifestyle at the same time!

  • The kids gear and clothing market is huge with the stroller industry alone totaling $332 million. According to a CMU study, every stroller made contributes a significant amount of greenhouse gas, pollutants and toxic chemicals to the environment, and there's little better to be said for the production of most other kids' items. The simplest way to reduce the impact of all this quickly outgrown clothing and gear is give it a longer life and get more use out of it. A few ideas to consider:

  • When you're looking to buy, a great place to start is a local kids' resale shop. Items are usually inspected before the store takes them in, so you're typically getting a gently used good that is still in excellent condition. Inventory will be unpredictable and you may not find the exact item you're looking for, but with patience, you'll have good luck.

  • If you have gear and clothing your children have already outgrown, a yard sale will help it all find a new home where it will be loved and used, rather than sitting in your garage taking up space or being tossed out to add to our landfills.

  • Turn to the "sharing economy" to transform outgrown goods into great new finds. Online swapping sites like Swapdom make it incredibly easy for parents to trade all things baby and kids' for new kids' goods or items for themselves. With Swapdom, for example, users simply request items they love, tell Swapdom what they would like to offer in exchange, then sit back and let the site organize a multi-person swap for them. All of this is done for nothing more than the cost of shipping and a $1-$2 fee.

  • Get creative to make hand-me-downs and unused items useful again by upcycling them. Perhaps those outgrown clothes can find a new life as part of a quilt or decorative pillow. Or, maybe the changing table your sister-in-law no longer needs can be refinished, revamped, and used as a pretty beverage cart or side table. It's amazing what a little ingenuity can do to save your budget!

Considering a typical baby grows an incredible 10 inches in the first year and the average 6- to 12-year-old grows two and half inches annually, it's no wonder there's such a market for baby and kids' goods. We want our kids to have an impact on the world, of course, but by recycling all those barely used clothes, strollers, safety gadgets, shoes, toys, etc., we can help ensure that it's only a positive one!

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