Family with a budget

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Thoughts on clothes and consumerism

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The fashion industry is one of the worst things for our environment, and I personally prefer not to support it. There is such an excess of second-hand clothes out there, that there’s really no reason for anybody to buy their clothes new. Not to mention it gets expensive.

In my family we also don’t like to spend our money on clothes. Our clothes budget is mostly spent on the kids, as they are constantly growing and need new clothes for every season. When they were little, I almost always bought their clothes used. There are plenty of great apps or online stores where people can post items that they are selling. Sometimes items with the tag still on were selling for very cheap, because small kids grow so fast and don’t always wear their clothes out or wear them at all, before they need the next size.

So in general, it was always easy for me to find cheap, used clothes in good condition for our kids. This came in handy, as our budget a few years back was very tiny, and kids here in Denmark need a lot of clothes, especially for daycare. Rain clothes, thermo clothes, snow suits, hats, gloves, thermo boots, rain boots, Winter boots etc. in the Winter time. For Summers it’s sandals, sneakers, sun hat, shorts, swim suit, long pants, t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, Summer jacket… and so on. You never know what the weather will be like here, but we have many months of rain and cold weather, and even Summers may not be that hot. Or they could be very hot. So you always have to have a little bit of everything ready.

For the past few years, however, as my kids are now 9 and 11, they have started to care what they wear, and in my experience it’s not always as easy finding second-hand clothes for cheap in bigger sizes. And with a busy life it’s easier to just order a big package of new clothes online from a popular store and be done with it. So I have done that on occasion, when I haven’t felt like waiting or doing the research to find good second-hand deals that the kids were ok with too. Too much hassle, and as our budget increased with two full-time salaries, I thought “why not just save myself some time and energy”.

It’s so easy to slide back into consumerism. And I always excused myself with a lack of time or the fact that we can afford it now. But I’m not going to do that anymore. We have been spending way more than we need to on clothes for the kids for a while now.

I have always prioritized new shoes for them though, even when we were on a shoestring budget, and that will still be the case.

So the other day when my son needed some new clothes for special occasions, I looked in my go-to second-hand app. And I found 2 pairs of new brand name jeans and a dress shirt, all still with the tags on, for $25. You couldn’t even get one pair of those jeans for that price here.

When it comes to clothes in general for all four of us, we have enough but not too many. I barely buy clothes for myself either. In fact, the underwire in my bra came out the other day, and I started looking online for a new one (I actually only have two bras that I take turns using while the other one is in the laundry). I only buy quality bras so a new one would cost me $70!!! So instead of closing my eyes and ordering one, I decided to repair the old one. The trick is to find some thick fabric and cut a small piece off to sew onto the bra so it covers the underwire hole and prevents it from coming out. I actually used an old holy sock for that, because the top part of the fabric on it was a bit thicker, so it did the job. It may not be pretty, but it doesn’t bother me and hopefully this trick can be useful for others as well.

Repairing your clothes and taking care of them can really prolong the use of the items. Small holes can often be repared quickly and without it being noticable. Buttons can be sown back on if they fall off. And if a piece of clothing has become washed out or worn out, I’ll sometimes keep it and use it as weekend clothes or as pajamas, depending on the clothing.

There are absolutely plenty of ways to avoid or postpone shopping for new clothes as well as to shop smart, which benefits both our environment and our wallets. And oftentimes we just don’t need as many clothes as we think.

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