713 gallons of water. That’s what it takes to produce one cotton t-shirt. ONE. 713 gallons of water is enough for one person to drink for 900 days by the way.
If that fact alone is not enough to make you concerned about textile waste in this country, then there may not be much hope for you. That’s all it took for me to rethink my shopping habits. And that was before I started researching the topic even more and discovered these frightening statistics:
- 21 billion pounds of textile waste is sent to landfills in the US alone (each American throws away 81 pounds of clothes per year on average)
- Only 10-15% of donated clothing actually ends up on the rack
- It takes up to 200 years for some materials to degrade (and it emits methane as it sits there)
- Only 15% of the billions of pounds of textiles produced every year is recycled (even though nearly all clothing and shoes are recyclable)
While recycling programs for textiles exist, it’s not nearly as easy as tossing your newspapers into the big blue bin to put out at the curb once a week.
So rather than add to the growing problem that is textile waste and scrambling to try and fix it afterward, why not prevent it?
That’s what we’ve started to do.
After Calista was born we were very fortunate that a friend passed on bags and bags (and bags) of clothes. We didn’t HAVE to buy anything. I spent so much time sorting through it all. Matching up outfits. Organizing the closet and dresser drawers. And then she grew before she got to wear more than half of it and I was doing it all over again for the next size up. Whatever you do, don’t add clothes to your baby registry.
If the average lifespan of an article of clothing is 3 years for an adult, it’s about 3 months for a baby. It might be about a year for a toddler or school-aged child.
So I am done with new clothes.
For me and for my girls. And I’m dragging my husband down with me. One of the best ways I can come up with to help combat textile waste in addition to simply buying less is to purchase secondhand. Not because I’m cheap (I prefer thrifty anyway). Not because we can’t afford new clothes. Because, for the sake of the planet, we can’t afford NOT to.
Last year I found myself scrambling to find a Buffalo Bills shirt for Calista before football season started. I wasn’t willing to spend $25 on a shirt she’d wear maybe 7-8 times before she outgrew it. So I walked into my local Kid to Kid store for the first time. Not only did I find what I was looking for, I found a place to go for all of my baby and kid gear and clothing needs.
Kid to Kid isn’t just a place to buy and sell clothing (yes, you can sell your gently used items here, too). You can find maternity clothes, baby carriers, breast pump bags, formula, strollers, books, diaper bags, high chairs, cloth diapers, toys and SO much more. When I needed a formal dress for Calista to wear to Camila’s baptism I didn’t think twice about where I would shop. I found the perfect dress at Kid to Kid, and paid a whopping $4. That’s less than what most of my friends are willing to shell out for a latte at Starbucks. At my local store onesies are just $0.25 – all day, everyday. They have a book club that allows your child to select a book for free each month when you shop in the store. There are weekly sales and lots of special promotions and additional discounts year round. They don’t have to do all of these things, but they do.
They’re leading the way in helping to reduce waste in this country while boosting the local economy and supporting the community at the same time.
When your child outgrows their Exersaucer or you find yourself with a pile of clothes they never got around to wearing before their last growth spurt, rather than storing it all in the basement (and saving it for that garage sale you’re never going to actually have) you can bring it in and get cash for your goods. You win because not only do you not have to trip over it every time you open the basement door, you’ve got a little cash to spend. Someone else wins because now they can purchase your gently used stuff at a fraction of what they would pay at Target. The planet wins because that’s one less piece of plastic and one less pile of clothing that will end up in a landfill.
Everybody wins at Kid to Kid.
Kid to Kid helped families recycle over 7 million items and kept thousands of pounds of clothing out of landfills last year. When you bring in items that can’t be sold in the store, they’ll donate them for you. My local store has helped so many wonderful charities in the city of Buffalo. These charities help women and children in need, refugees locating to Buffalo, and survivors of domestic violence.
Textile waste is a growing problem that has detrimental effects not only on the health of our planet, but the health of our kids, too. The plastic crisis is out of control. Consider shopping secondhand the next time you need something. There’s a good chance Kid to Kid has what you’re looking for.