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Back To School Clothes Shopping

The excitement around back-to-school shopping never feels like a far off distant memory for me. Maybe it's because I've always gotten caught up in the "back to school" shopping mode even as an adult. This year many of you may feel a greater need to "redo" your family's wardrobe as the kids head back to school and many offices reopen simultaneously. 

Our fast fashion addiction though isn't particularly eco. So, if this year you're looking for some ways to be "eco-cool", we've got your back!

Host a Clothing Swap

"One man's trash is another man's treasure" or in my case, Dina down the street's Anthropologie dress from 2 years ago is a real prize. Gosh I want that dress! 

One great way to restyle wardrobes and get the kids next size up clothing is to call on your community to make swaps together. Grab a set of friends, family members, church congregants or your neighborhood moms and set up tables and racks to swap. 

I hosted a kids one in our neighborhood last year (outdoors of course) after receiving requests  for gently used items. With 5 kids size stations it was a huge success and an easy way to keep clothes moving in a circular economy.

The Conscious Merchant will be teaming up with a few other businesses this Fall for a clothing swap and DIY altering workshop. Stay tuned for details!


Check Out Your Local Resale Shops

Secondhand clothing and "thrifting" is growing in today's economy with more and more resale shops popping up in cities. Stopping in and checking them out is a great way to support local business and again keep the circular economy going. I really like them too because in most of these stores someone has already vetted the items for wear and tear.

For kids clothing I always suggest checking out Once Upon a Child's locations. In the Denver Metro area, Little By Little in Arvada has a wall of secondhand clothing too!

Buy and Sell on E-Commerce Sites

The Internet is filled with endless opportunities for buying and selling, so my list will definitely not be exhaustive but rather inspirational to get you going :-) E-commerce has created a great place for doing secondhand shopping through platforms like eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Poshmark. Here you can buy clothing and even sell the items your family outgrows. 

The drawback, in my opinion, is that on some sites you don't get to always see the quality (or authenticity if you're looking for something higher end). But if you don't mind an accidentally missed stain or are good with a needle and thread, you can find incredible deals! 

RENT

Fashion is my form of artistic expression. I can't draw, make clay figures and while I'm trained in piano, it's not my thing. FASHION is my jam and that's why I LOVE the continual development of rental companies. There are absolutely downsides like wrong sizes, shipping fees and carbon impact, but, at the rate our society orders and returns firsthand clothing, I truly believe this model leads us in a better direction for the environment. 

Kids sites I highly recommend checking out include: 

"I'm just not there yet..."

I get it, I do. If you're not at a place where you're ready to ditch your favorite store or the experience of shopping new things, there are fabrics I'd love for you to consider!

Recycled or Organic Cotton

Grown without all the harmful pesticides and produced without the dangerous chemicals that normal cotton uses, organic cotton is preferred when accessible. Look for GOTS or OEKO TEX Certified products for a seal of clean approval. 

The most sustainable way to wear cotton though is recycled! It's circular (recycling once used for new purpose) and uses less water and energy then new fabric.  

Organic Hemp

The hemp plant itself required very little water to grow. It also returns 60-70% of nutrients to the soil that it lives in! Plus, when it is spun into a fabric, the process requires no chemicals whatsoever. Some companies choose to use chemicals to speed up the process so ask questions ;-)

Organic Linen

Did you know it's made from a plant? Yep, flax! And similar to hemp, it requires little water and little-to-no pesticides. Best part, it is completely biodegradable when left undyed!

While processing doesn't require lots of water, a larger amount of energy does go into processing linen, but still less than other fabrics.

Tencel

Another biodegradable option, the production of Tencel uses only one-third of the water that is needed to produce it's similar counterpart rayon, and over 99% of the water and solvents used are able to be recycled!

You can read more about our opinion on Tencel in our bedding blog.

Recycled Polyester (rPET)

Reusing plastic water bottles into fabric is a thing, and we think it's a pretty cool option. rPET can be recycled several times too, creating a more circular system. 

There is a downside though. Like virgin polyester, it releases microplastics into the waterways when washed. So, wash less and try a Guppy Bag or a machine filter from Girlfriend Collective!

Note: Bamboo is NOT on the list, while popular it's not here. Just say'n...

As always, do what you can, find the price points that work for you, but do your best. We're always here to help if you need help or suggestions.