Written by Rent-a-Romper customer and mom, Dara Smith
Ahh, it’s the most hectic time of the year. School is back in session, and you have some more time to yourself to do…well, whatever you want! Or, at least that’s what you hoped… In reality, back to school means lunches to pack, activities to plan and holidays on the horizon. The change in seasons also means you might be swapping out your kiddo’s clothes for the year ahead. But before you throw more outfits into storage, pull out the pile. Because there's no better way to start the school year (and a new season) than with a clutter-free home.
Closet clean-outs can feel overwhelming, so we’ve mapped out four simple ways to get your little’s clothes out of the house without tossing them in the trash.
Here are 4 ways to offload used baby, toddler and kid clothes
There’s nothing wrong with saving old clothes. But it’s easy to lose track of the treasures you’ve stowed, and when they’re sitting in storage, they aren’t used! These space-saving solutions offer economic and environmental benefits you might not have considered, along with their pros and cons.
1. Give your child’s used clothes away.
What’s more appealing than sharing precious mementos with those you love? Giving clothes to friends and family can provide the extra dopamine your brain craves.
The pros and cons of giving your kid’s used clothes away
Giving away your kid’s old looks might seem like a no-brainer, but there are a few things to consider first.
- Sentimental value. If you’ve loved watching your little coo and crawl in their outfits, you’ll adore seeing their getups on another baby you know. Watching your baby’s styles get a second life brings back memories of those precious early years in the most feel-good way.
- Convenience. If you live close to whomever you’re gifting, dropping off garments can feel like a breeze. Without researching donation locations, you can say a swift sayonara to your baby’s ex-wardrobe.
- Possible returns. If you’re not positive you’ll need something again, you can arrange for your friend to return it whenever you want it back. Chances are your giftee’s babe will size out (and then some) before you need to make the request. But there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it back in good condition (or at all).
- Unpredictability. Just because you’re ready to ditch your kid’s used clothes doesn’t mean your circle’s prepared to receive them. A mismatch in needs, seasons, personal style and schedules can make giving clothing away unrealistic when you need it most.
- Effort. Out of respect, you’ll want to ensure every item’s clean and in top shape. But sorting and washing all of your little one’s fashions can take a lot of work, especially if they need repair or have stains.
- Environmental impact. Very often, once you hand off hand-me-downs, you have no idea what happens next. Even if you share sustainability values, your giftee may not follow through on the hopes you have for your little’s wardrobe.
2. Sell your kid’s used clothes.
Today, resale means more than garage sales or thrift shops. Baby clothing exchanges and children’s consignment stores occupy nearly every platform on the internet—and most neighborhoods. So, while it is possible to recover some of your little one’s wardrobe costs, there’s usually quite a bit of work involved.
The pros and cons of selling your kiddo’s used clothes
With an average of 6% of the cost of raising a child going to clothing, it’s pretty neat that you can make clearing your closets a side hustle. But before you start reselling, there are a few points to ponder before hitting the market.
- Savings. With the rising costs of pretty much everything, who wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to make extra cash? Whether hosting a yard sale, selling on social media, posting on a baby resale site, or dropping clothes off at your local consignment, you can recoup some of your investment.
- Opportunity. With so many places selling used swag, there’s lots of potential for reselling your child’s clothes. If someone in your neighborhood doesn’t need your little’s previous size or style, you can likely locate a family online who does, or drop them off at a local consignment shop.
- Reuse. Studies show that by extending a garment’s life for just nine months, you can reduce its water, waste and carbon footprint by up to 30%*. So, recirculating your baby clothes via resale outlets can further that goal. Your efforts will go even further if you work with services that also share your values.
- Too Much Effort. To see success, your child’s clothing should be free of stains, damage and wrinkles. Also, buyers will want pictures to guarantee quality before purchasing. So, you’ll not only be cleaning your kid’s used clothes but snapping photos, writing descriptions and marketing them, too. And like any consumer good, your inventory will need a promotional spin to snag a sale. You’ll also have to trek to the post office to ship resold items to their new home or wait while your consignment appraiser processes your resale stack. Even then, not everything will sell, and you’ll still have to figure out what to do with the remaining outfits.
- Lack of Transparency. Like giving away old clothes, you won’t have insight into your cargo’s whereabouts after it leaves your home. So, if reuse and sustainability drives your entrepreneurialism (like it drives ours), you might want to rethink your strategy.
Donating your gently used goods can help parents in your community find more affordable clothing options. As more families feel the pinch of inflation and an uncertain economy, having access to clothing at lower-than-retail prices is becoming increasingly important. Donating doesn’t just help families shop below budget, it also provides instant sustainability benefits too!
The pros and cons of donating used baby clothes to charity
Donating to charity always seems like a good idea. But the process can be a little more involved when it comes to giving up your kid’s clothes.
- Impact. Cradles to Crayons, a nonprofit fighting children’s clothing insecurity, says two in five children live 200% below the poverty line. So, low-income families often lack necessities like clothes and diapers. Donating used garments can fill the gaps for millions of caregivers in need.
- Convenience. From Goodwill to Dress for Success, countless local and national organizations accept secondhand clothes. Just pull up a search engine and find somewhere credible that makes you feel good.
- Savings. According to TaxSlayer, U.S. tax laws let you deduct charitable donations (including clothing) worth up to 60% of your adjusted gross income. So, depending on the quantity, you could receive tax benefits for your generosity. Even better, some organizations like Goodwill offer impact calculators to help project possible savings.
- Effort. Even when giving clothes away, many donation sites have requirements for what’s accepted so you’ll need to sort items before dropping them off. For example, to ensure families get quality items, One Warm Coat won’t take coats with holes or stains, and after COVID-19, Baby2Baby will only receive brand-new items. So, finding outlets for your little one’s used apparel can feel a bit like playing Tetris.
- Environmental harm. According to The Atlantic, 80% of clothing donations to thrift stores like Goodwill or The Salvation Army don’t reach the public. Instead, they’re thrown away or shipped overseas to create a new set of textile waste and ethical concerns. Without transparency, you’ll never know if your contribution does more harm than good.
4. Add your kid’s used clothes to a community closet.
Recently, children’s rentals have also increased in popularity, helping parents keep up with their kids' growth. Rent-a-Romper’s community closet delivers all the pros of the above solutions (without all of the stresses).
The benefits of sharing your kid’s used clothes in a community closet
Shared closets might sound unfamiliar, but the concepts have gained traction over the last decade. Rent-the-Runway led the charge in 2009 by renting out discounted runway styles from its communal fashion bank. And thanks to brands like Nuuly and Fernish, the rental market expects 9% growth over the next five years.**
We’ve joined the ranks to extend renting to little ones. After all, between messes and non-stop growing, babies and toddlers cycle through more clothes than any other age group! On average, Rent-a-Romper uses each item 5-6 times before it is recycled sustainably. So, unlike resell or donation, with renting, you know the item is guaranteed to be remain in circulation as long as possible, then disposed of responsibly.
- Save (a lot!): At Rent-a-Romper, we want to make it easy for you to offload clothes you don’t need anymore. When you contribute to our community closet, you will receive credits that can be used toward future orders.
- It’s oh, so convenient: As busy parents ourselves, we value time more than anything, so we’ve simplified our clothing contribution process. While clothing in gently-used condition is more likely to be worn again, we’ll accept any garment that hits our doorstep—no matter how worn or damaged it is. Just pack it up, request a prepaid shipping label and ship it over. We’ll handle the rest! We can even send you a compostable shipping bag if you need one. By accepting your contributions in any condition, together we can keep more clothes out of the landfill.
- Impact: Since our launch, we’ve diverted well over 500 lbs of textiles from landfills and saved 1.4 million gallons of water—and we’ve only just begun. Our circular model uses thousands of garments already in circulation and helps keep them there. In fact, we never discard or trash clothing. Instead, we work with communities, charities and companies like For Days to repurpose what we can’t use.
- Community: We understand how hard it can be to part with your kiddo’s favorite finds, so we keep it all in the family. We love to feature littles in their rentals so that you can see your preloved goodies in action on social media!
We hope you feel a little lighter knowing there are simple ways to ditch your kid’s clothes sustainably. No matter what you choose, you’re making the right decision for your family. And if you need extra support, simply hand off the task to Rent-a-Romper, and we’ll take extra special care of your little one’s outgrown clothes.
Ready to become a part of the Rent-a-Romper community? Take the first step and add unwanted kid's clothes to our community closet! We take contributions in any condition and can't wait to spruce them up and send them to another loving home or recycle them for their next adventure.
*WRAP. (2020). Design for Longevity: Guidance on increasing the active life of clothing.
**Mordor intelligence. (2021). Online clothing rental market - growth, trends, COVID-19 impact and forecasts (2022 - 2027).