Zero Waste Pregnancy: Maternity Clothes
First of all, my apologies for the delay in content, but it’s for a good reason! My husband and I are expecting our first child this fall! We are so excited and really looking forward to this time of our lives. Frist trimester was buh-ru-tal and boy am I happy to have moved through the 2nd and now on to the 3rd trimester.
Like many moms to be, I have spent a crazy amount of time researching baby bottles, cribs, breast milk storage, clothing, etc. It’s amazing to me how much stuff is out there (and do we really need it all?!). I’m on a mission to have as eco friendly pregnancy/newborn experience as possible. And so begins the first of many posts including all you need to know for a low waste nursing, diapering, sleeping, breast feeding, playful bundle of joy. But lets start with you shall we? Time to dress that growing baby bump!
Whoo hoo! New wardrobe time!
As your bump/boobs/butt grows, your existing closet options dwindle. There are so many changes happening to your body (other than weight gain). Breasts can grow up to 1-2 cup sizes (maybe more) and blood volume increases by 40-45%. It’s no wonder clothes simply don’t fit the same. So how to get the clothes you want and need while striving for an eco friendly and/or zero waste pregnancy? You’ve come to the right place.
I am an avid proponent for purchasing used when possible. Granted, this may put you in the situation where you have to decide between a used item made from non-sustainable materials versus a new item made from renewable or eco friendly materials. At the end of the day, the resources required to make new clothing will astound you. Did you know it takes 2,700 liters (713 gallons) of water to make 1 cotton shirt!? (World Resources Institute, 2017). That’s the same amount of water one person drinks in 2 1/2 years. This is because cotton is a very thirsty crop. It’s also responsible for approximately 24% of insecticide use and 11% of pesticide use.
So maybe synthetic fibers are better then you ask? Not necessarily. Polyester, for example, has a very high carbon footprint (more so than that of cotton). In 2015, polyester textile production was responsible for releasing 1.5 trillion pounds of greenhouse gasses (that’s the equivalent to the annual emissions of 185 coal powered plants!). (World Resources Institute, 2017). Not to mention these materials can shed micro plastics in the wash cycle, wrecking havoc on our waterways and oceans. So… what are my options?
1. Buy Used
There are so many ways to purchase gently used maternity clothing. Check your local thrift, consignment, or vintage clothing store for new wardrobe finds. The nice thing about used maternity clothing is that they are likely to be in decent condition as chances are they were worn for fewer than 9 months.
Online stores for used maternity clothing:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Isabella Oliver (pre-loved section – UK only)
- La Belle Bump (pre-loved styles)
- Maternity Traders
- Rent the Runway (check out the clearance section for used styles!)
- Swap Society
Do you have friends or family members who have recently had a child or are done having children? Perhaps they would be willing to loan or gift you their used maternity items. Rental services are another great option, particularly if you do not want to accumulate a bunch of maternity wear.
Where to rent maternity clothing:
- Mine for Nine
- La Belle Bump
- Le Tote
- Rent The Runway
- Motherhood Rental
- Swap Society (similar to a rental system with their return and exchange program)
3. Buy Responsibly
If renting or buying used simply isn’t for you, choose environmentally conscious clothing companies for your maternity wardrobe. Keep end-of-life in mind when purchasing clothing. Can it be worn after you’re no longer pregnant? Can it be resold or recycled easily? Does the company accept it back for resale or recycling? While there are a number of sustainable and sustainable-ish brands out there (really look at companies’ sourcing, manufacturing, and distribution practices), the following are two of my favorites.
1) Pact makes their clothing from organic cotton in Fair Trade Certified™ factories. They also offer carbon offset shipping and their cardboard boxes are made with 98% post-consumer recycled material. There is a plastic bag inside however, Pact asserts that it is biodegradable without microplastic or toxic residue. Learn more about their bag here.
2) Another maternity clothing brand that gets the AGI seal of approval is Isabella Oliver. Their sustainability, environmental, and social justice initiatives are extensive. They are carbon negative, Certified B Corp, and donate 10% of profits to charities. Packaging is completely plastic free. Learn more by reading their impact report here.
4. Have Fun
Be sure to enjoy the process of decorating your new baby bump! And you know, if you chose to purchase a new item because it makes you feel wonderful, that is totally okay. Don’t be too strict or hard on yourself, especially with all the change your body is going through! Having a 100% zero waste pregnancy can be challenging but do your best and don’t forget to spoil yourself a little in the process. And if you’re looking for other ways to go green, learn more about how to get started here.